Yes, We Can Go Back to the Green…In Certain Cases

By Steven E. Sacks, CPA, CGMA, ABC

There are times we look to the past; the simpler times. We saw this quite clearly after 9/11 when families stayed home with their kids to play board games and watch movies. Perhaps it was to mitigate the sense of trauma caused by the attack on our homeland for the first time ever. We then experienced the Great Recession, which resulted in diminished trust in government and a clear dichotomy between the haves and have-nots.

It is now 2020, and a dozen or so years since the introduction of the iPhone, the birth of social media platforms, and a plethora of apps that lead to the inevitable intrusion into our personal lives: finances, purchase habits, and lifestyle choices; stalking of our friends; likes and dislikes, and oftentimes, our political leanings.

Various media channels have lamented the debasing of our civil discourse. We point fingers. We attack. We embrace fringe-type positions as our own, thus subjugating our true thoughts and attitudes to those who scream the loudest. And on and on.

All this has made me pine for the past, but the not-so-distant past. I have revisited The West Wing, the TV show that ran from September 1999 to May 2006. A breakthrough political show that was modeled on 1996 movie American President starring Michael Douglas and Annette Bening.

Through the years, after the show ended, cynics had mocked its unrealistic view (their opinion) of the White House and how it operates, even though its story consultants had worked as speechwriters, congressional and White House aides, and others with Beltway experience. Here we see the actual hiring of the “best people.”

Daily life has many challenges; in this era, the tone and style of our Federal government has Americans shaking their heads in despair. To be sure, we are entering a phase where we no longer widen our eyes, drop our jaws or scream at the TV (though the latter may still be a ritual we cannot stop). We have become numb, resigned, scared and depressed.

Short of medicating ourselves to cushion the daily pounding, I suggest another approach: Watch the 19th episode of Season 3 of The West Wing. It is titled, The West Wing Special Episode. It is a documentary episode that weaves in scenes from the first three seasons with interviews of former presidents; White House press secretaries and senior aides; and other political heavyweights.

Viewing the episode for the first time in 18 years, I was as impressed and inspired, if not more so. I admired how these leaders and political experts viewed public service, and the emotions they felt every day when they entered the White House. The reverence; the desire to do good for Americans; the strategies and political posturing; the frustrations and the triumphs; the battles and the celebrations.

While we should not kid ourselves that there are those who enter government to reap the benefits after they leave it (just look at the players on K Street), there is still a substantial population who want to do get (the right) things done for our country: environmental protection, improvement in education, healthcare reform, immigration, reducing income inequality and myriad other areas to “do good.”

Our country, which will be 245-years-old next year, would not exist as it is if not for the collective desire of our citizens to preserve and improve on what we call America: the Great Experiment.

So, if the what is hitting the fan each day has got you down, go to Netflix and watch the special episode. It’s what the doctor ordered.

About the Author

Steven Sacks is the CEO of Solutions to Results, LLC, a consultancy that specializes in helping individuals, firms and organizations meet the challenges of communicating with clarity and purpose.