Apologies if you're unfamiliar with the show for the spoilers inherent in the video, but I spent a lot of time this week pointedly not watching the news and instead bingeing "The Good Place", which is my favorite insanely silly show with a lot of heart and intelligence. And it all boils down to a single question: "What do we owe each other?"
That question, the fundamental one of Hobbesian Contractualism, really marks the difference between liberal and conservative mindsets. Part of what feels so much of a betrayal is the breaking of the implicit contracts that we thought that Republicans agreed to (although the reality is that Republicans have been breaking those contracts since Newt Gingrich's Contract on America). And the Democrats don't seem able to get themselves past those old contracts that the Republicans don't care about. We liberals and Democrats understand that we owe each other support, respect, and dignity, irrespective of their race, gender, sexuality, country of origin, or bank account. That is simply alien to the conservatives, who believe the only others who merit respect are those who look, act and think like them.
I used to have the optimistic hope that most people at least want to be good. I don't know if that's true, at least when it comes to those in office. But that shouldn't stop us. As show creator Michael Schur puts it:
“It feels, all the time in life, like a bad decision is right in front of you,” Schur said. “No matter who you are, there’s the opportunity to make bad decisions and hurt people. And it takes work just to keep not making those bad decisions. It takes a lot of concentrated effort to do the right thing all the time. Hopefully, you get so used to it, and it becomes such a part of who you are, that it doesn’t take work — you’re on autopilot making good decisions. But not always, and for a lot of people, not ever. You don’t have to look very hard to see a group of people in this country who have given in and are just making the worst decisions you can make. Like the most selfish, the most corrupt, the most evil decisions — and they’re just doing it as a matter of course. And it’s way too late. They’re never gonna go the other way.”
In the face of so much badness, Schur said, it is always tempting to give up. But the heroic thing is simply to try.
“You have to work at it, every day,” he said. “It’s so hard. The temptation will always be there to go: ‘Oh, no one’s watching. No one’s looking. I’ll just do this.’ Whatever ‘this’ is. If you throw a coffee cup at a garbage can and you miss, you could just walk away. The amount of bad you put into the universe is very minimal. But someone else is gonna have to come along and pick that thing up, and it sucks. It’s not that person’s problem, it’s your problem. And it’s a very slippery slope. As you get accustomed to one kind of bad action as permissible, then the Overton window shifts, right?
The Republicans have shifted the Overton window way the hell over to a place that is scary and dangerous to most of us. We have 30 days to rev ourselves up to push back. If you're already registered, then find someone who isn't. Look up OneMoreVote.us or VoteSaveAmerica for other ways to get out the vote. Volunteer to drive seniors to the polls. Make phone calls. Canvas neighborhoods. The choice to support good and what we owe to each other is yours to make. Make the Good Choice.
ABC's "This Week" — White House counselor Kellyanne Conway; Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network; Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. Panel: ABC ‘s Matthew Dowd; former Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.; Rachael Bade of Politico; and Shawna Thomas of Vice News.
NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Tarana Burke, civil rights activist; Alyssa Milano, actress. Panel: presidential historian Michael Beschloss, author of “Presidents of War”; Republican strategist Al Cardenas; Kasie Hunt of NBC News; and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute.
CBS' "Face the Nation" — Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Susan Collins, R-Maine. Anthony Salvanto, CBS News elections & surveys director; Greg Miller of The Washington Post. Panel: John Harris of Politico; Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post; Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review; and Nancy Cordes of CBS News.
CNN's "State of the Union" — Collins, Hirono; Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio. Panel: CNN host Van Jones; former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.; Amanda Carpenter, author of “Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us”; and Jen Psaki, former White House communications director.
CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" — Madeleine Albright, former U.S. secretary of state (Bill Clinton administration, 1997-2001) and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (1993-1997); Gen. Colin Powell (ret.), former U.S. secretary of state (George W. Bush administration, 2001-2005) and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-1993).
CNN's "Reliable Sources" — Frank Sesno, director, School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University; Olivia Nuzzi of New York magazine; April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks; Brian Karem of Sentinel Newspapers; Susanne Craig of The New York Times; Karen Attiah of The Washington Post; Michael Gottlieb, attorney for Aaron Rich.
"Fox News Sunday" — McConnell; Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee chairwoman; Matthew Wendel, manager of Blair House. Panel: Juan Williams; Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Mitch McConnell; Chris Stirewalt; and Marie Harf, co-host of Fox News Radio’s “Benson and Harf”.
So what's catching your eye this morning?