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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Friday, September 09, 2011


I realize this blog is called "On Theatre and Politics" and I've barely written substantively about politics in a very long time. Part of that is that it was just easier under Bush, as his presidency was a constant source of outrage. It's tougher under Obama. Partially, to be honest, because I've gotten more disappointed in my compatriots on the left than in Obama himself. I get bored and tired of listening to progressives essentially throw up their arms over and over again. What is so shocking? He ran as a moderate, and he's attempted to govern like one. If he's been less bold on some issues, and even been unable to make changes in places I wish he would, that's just how politics works. But in the end, I think he is an intelligent human being who is attempting to get the best results for the American people considering the political realities of the moment. 

I like that he resists (sometimes to a fault) the impulse to fight fire with fire. The GOP's tone is not something I'd like to see matched. I'd like to see it be treated as inexcusable.

That being said, I'd like to throw out this one thought. There are a few media mantras that often drive me up the wall. One of those is that an "election is a referendum on the incumbent." The idea here is that the American people do not actually care who the President is running against, they're voting, basically, almost entirely to send a message about whether or not they believe the current officeholder is doing well. They've vote against him, the idea is, if the economy is bad, and for him if it isn't, case closed.

Of course, the truth is Obama is no more or less the "incumbent" than are his Republican counterweights. No matter how the House Republicans cast themselves as in favor of less government, it's clear that by setting the agenda and appearing as a bunch of older white men on the evening news in bulk...that they are the government. The face of exactly what exasperates the American people. If any Republican candidate stands beside them, I can't imagine he or she won't be treated as an "incumbent" in the eyes of the American people, if by incumbent what we really mean is "who we believe is currently managing things."

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