Speculative Fiction

August 28, 2008 at 9:40 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

One of the reasons I love(d) speculative fiction by Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke,Ellison,Robinson…is that it ended up showing parts of our future remarkably clearly.  40, 20, 15 years ago, ‘science fiction’ writers wrote about things and projects that exist now.

(Although they clearly missed the boat by pouring their love of gagetry into the jet packs and flying cars we were all supposed to have by 1978.)

Recently, I’ve loved another kind of  speculative fiction,… The political kind.

Aaron Sorkin’s work caught my attention with the movie ‘The American President,’ and then during “The West Wing”‘s run, when, if I was only permitting myself one hour of primetime TV, that was it.

In Sorkin’s world, it’s ok to be smart, and witty and earnest, and full of many specific policy plans (Since this was TV instead of reality most of the wonky stuff actually passed.)

But I honestly believe that some unintentional prescience was at work….hear me out.

We have seen the many many real people who worked for the Democratic campaign, and helped to put Mr Obama in this moment.

Some fictional people ended up paving the way for his candidacy as well…

Without self deprecating but direct fictional President Andrew Shepherd…political junkies wouln’t have suddenly noticed a 10% drop in their cynicsm when they left the theater…and began a bit of hope…(Even the Republican hopers, the genuine guys for whom ‘straight talk’ is not a political tool)

And further…with the fictional president Bartlett of the West Wing, an economist, devout Catholic and tenacious fighter for the so-called ‘liberal causes’ Education, Jobs, Crime reduction, international peace negotiations…and more…  Lots of us left of the NeoCons watched that and said, “Why can’t we have a real president at least half as foccussed and committed as that guy?”

…And his sidekick, tough, plain speaking Leo McGarry…an unabashed pragmatist  who said exactly what he felt, just a bit too often, who kept the adminstration’s focus steady, particularly during the manufactured crises, that any TV show must have in May and November…

Sorkin was writing about an America that *could be* if some fundamental things changed.

When I see Barack Obama, and Joe Biden (who I don’t like much personally, but think will make a great campaigner and a  decent vp), I see resonances with all of the three fictional guys above

And in the last season, Alan Alda as Republican candidate Arnold Vinick was   clearly riffing on the 2000 era John McCain (except for that part about being pro choice)

And the historic candidacy  of the young charismatic Hispanic candidate, Matt Santos….played by Jimmy Smits

I’m glad Sorkin wrote that stuff, because when that gets out into the ether, it can be a small small part of the evolution of this election.

In otherwords, without Bartlett, McGarry, Santos….

Would we have been as ready for Obama/Biden?

I don’t think so.

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