October 12, 2020
The West Wing creator has attracted scorn for his rose-tinted view of American democracy in the age of Trump. But maybe his idealism isn’t such a bad thing
The Trial of the Chicago 7: is Aaron Sorkin living in a liberal fantasy land?
Rarely has Aaron Sorkin looked so out of step with reality. Speaking last month, the poet laureate of idealised political discourse outlined how he would write election night 2020: “Trump does what we all assume he will do, which is not concede defeat, claiming the election’s rigged and the Democrats cheated. For the first time, his Republican enablers march to the White House and say: ‘Donald, it’s time to go.’ I would write the ending where everyone does the right thing.”
As many were quick to point out, sadly we are not living in an episode of The West Wing or The American President, both of which Sorkin had a hand in. US politics is not conducted as an articulate, rapid-fire exchange of ideas conducted between well-intentioned people walking quickly down corridors. The recent presidential debates gave us the real, undoctored version, and it’s more like a Caps Lock Reddit thread live-read. Sorkin’s romanticised vision of American Democratic norms was rejected as fancifully naive, and some went a lot further, arguing that while liberals wallowed wishfully in Sorkin’s fantasies, the hard-nosed Republicans had occupied the reality.
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