I Keep Thinking About This Quote From The West Wing

“If they’re shooting at you, you know you’re doing something right.”

I’ve seen every episode of The West Wing, and that is my favorite line from any of them. I’ve used it in more than one sermon, and, since the bleak dawn of Wednesday morning, it keeps coming to mind. As I listen to podcasts and read papers trying to explain America’s election of an unapologetic misogynist and racist, Andrew Macintosh from technical support is emerging as my source of solace.


What Tuesday revealed was hiding in plain sight for at least eight years: tens of millions of our compatriots resent the change in America that elevated an African American to its highest elected office and that unapologetically pursued an agenda of marriage equality for LGBT persons, deferred deportations for undocumented migrants, affordable health care for the uninsured, and stricter regulations on carbon emissions for the sake of the climate. President Obama has stood for multiracial leadership and a more collaborative posture towards the rest of the world, and for many, many citizens of this country, that is loathsome.


I wonder how we would assess the impact of the past eight years if the champions of a crusading, white, male-driven hegemony had not been upset by it. I wonder if making enemies among those whose vision of America is stuck in the post WWII era culture and economics is the worst thing you could achieve as a progressive. I don’t think it is.

Yes, we will have to learn to work together. Many of the gleeful victors of this election are not persuadable (if you love David Duke . . . ), but many more are. If the gains for inclusion and equality that have been made since ’08 are erased in a stroke over the next four years, then this observation will provide little solace. But it feels like, of all the emotions stampeding over the bodies of the vanquished this week, perhaps we should add satisfaction that what we are working on is worthy of such opposition.

If they’re shooting at you, you know you’re doing something right.

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