Last night, ABC aired the pilot for “Commander-in-Chief,” the Geena Davis as president show that’s been getting scads of hype lately. I planned to watch it, then write a little summary, touching on my own thoughts about a non-white-male presidency in the real world.
That was my plan. Unfortunately, I dozed off and missed a good chunk of the middle.
A few thoughts, though:
A Republican president picks an independent former two-term Congresswoman and college chancellor as his running mate? Please. Both political parties have plenty of women in their ranks; neither should have to go outside to find a veep.
The arguments over whether or not she should resign were pretty trite. “You can’t in good conscience carry out the agenda of the President who was elected,” “you’re a girl and we need a man to do it,” and “I’m a woman and I can do anything!” seemed to be the major points. Anyone chosen to run for vice-president has to know that they, at any moment, can become President. 14 Vice-presidents have gone on to become president, six of them on the death of the President.
And the ending was way, WAY over the top. In order to save a single foreign citizen from a brutal execution, she orders the United States Marines to invade the sovereign nation of Nigeria. That’s just to show those sexist Muslim nations that a woman can be tough — commit an act of war against them!
A lot of people are saying that this is a great victory — it helps get the American people acclimated to the idea of a non-white-male as President. They’ve cited “Will And Grace” as an exemplar, of how that TV show got people more accepting of gay people.
Others have said that this is a thinly-veiled plug for Hillary Clinton’s all-but-official 2008 campaign.
That’s too cynical. I think they’re just looking to score some ratings points. And they might succeed for a little while, but I don’t think the series has legs.
However, that put me in mind of something I’ve been thinking about for years — the idea of a member of a minority becoming president.
I thought it through a while ago, and came to a conclusion that a lot of others share:
The first woman president, or black president, or Hispanic president, or other non-white-male president, will be a Republican.
On the Democratic side, the leaders who aren’t white males tend to wear that as a badge of honor, of distinction. “Vote for me, I’m a woman/black/Hispanic/gay!!” seems to be the key element in their campaigns. And a lot of the Right look at that and say “so what?” They don’t want to know who you are, they want to know what you will do, and what you have done. For example, can anyone cite a single qualification or accomplishment of Hillary Clinton’s before she moved to New York and ran for that Senate seat?
That also caters to one of the uglier legacies of the Civil Rights movement. Up until the 60’s and Lyndon Johnson, the Democratic Party was the party of the hard-core racists. It still has a few remnants (Senator Byrd, please pick up the white courtesy phone), but the heirs of Lester Maddox, Bull Connor, and George Wallace fled the Democrats and tried to find a home in the GOP. They never were very welcome (witness the stiff-arming David Duke has received) and have never had any real influence, but that’s where they set up their little camp.
Between those two elements, any minority who runs as a Democrat will energize those elements of the Right, and sway enough of the mainstream GOP and enough moderates to doom their campaign.
On the other hand, a Republican minority will instantly garner a significant base to build on simply by their party affiliation. They will also draw a LOT from the middle that decides elections. Finally, they will energize a good chunk of the far left, who will label them as “race traitors” and other vile terms, which will generate its own backlash and win them more sympathy from the middle.
I’ve seen that one personally. There’s a black “community activist” in Boston named “Sadiki” who calls in to a lot of talk shows. Basically, if a story might have some sort of racial angle, you can count on Sadiki to fill up a good half-hour or so on his own, and the rest of the show with people answering him. I’ve heard him refer to “Semi-Colin Powell” and “Condoleezza White Rice” on several occasions. I can speak personally — I have found myself supporting those two a smidgen more just because I know it would piss off Sadiki and others like him.
I’ll even go a bit further. I think that a minority candidate will be nominated in 2008 by one of the two major parties.But I think they’ll lose — America isn’t quite ready for that yet. But that defeat will energize the movement, and by 2020 we will elect our first non-white-male president. (My gut says 2016, but I feel like hedging my bets.)
And it will be in no way thanks to Geena Davis.