Democracy on TV

I’ve just finished watching the first series of the West Wing. I don’t have a TV but have rigged up a DVD player to a projector to watch movies. It works well, even if West Wing doesn’t really need a screen 10′ across.

It’s a great show and gives a real insight into life behind the scenes in the US equivalent of No.10. So what do we have in the UK? Spitting Image? Yes, Minister? Yes, Prime Minister? The New Statesman? All great shows but all very different from the West Wing which manages to be funny (but not in a British way if you get my meaning), sharp-witted and yet, at the same time, makes you respect even more the work that goes into running the “office of the president”. If real life is even 1/2 what this show makes it out to be, then I’m yet more impressed.

What impresses me really though is the way that the show educates me about the political process in the USA – it covers topics from campaign funding through mid-term elections and even the Ethanol tax credit. It’s a little bit of democracy on TV – a way of seeing how a country is run and the effort that goes into making what are seemingly small decisions. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a way of seeing how much jostling, manoeuvering and outright positioning has to take place for every decision, small or large, short range impact or long term impact. Something like this in the UK would be great – spotlight on Parliament, Number 10 and Number 11.

By the by, one thing that intrigues me is that almost everyone in the offices seems to use Apple powerbooks (the old style black ones).

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