One item on my summer to do list has been to watch Parks and Recreation- a show I had never watched until now despite being informed I embody Leslie Knope multiple times. I have not been disappointed in this endeavor and am using every ounce of willpower to make the last episodes of the final season last as long as possible.
Since its final season aired in 2015, the series has left behind a strong legacy as being a feminist show, with Leslie Knope as the show's fearless protagonist, breaking the glass ceiling with her infinite amounts of optimism as she navigates her way through the bureaucracy of government.
In the final season, Leslie's husband, Ben Wyatt, decides to run for Congress and in one of the most recent episodes I watched, I found myself wondering, "Where is the Ben Wyatt of 2018?"
Somewhat ironically, the final season takes place three years into the future so Ben Wyatt is indeed running for in the 2018 election. However, the show could not have predicted where America would be politically today at the time the episodes were being written. This though, makes me ask the question with even greater curiosity.
Ben Wyatt, I can say with confidence is a feminist. He is a man who has a career of his own that he is devoted to, but still acknowledges the importance of his wife's career and is an active caregiver in his family.
In the episode that sparked me asking the question "Where is the Ben Wyatt of 2018?" he and Leslie are juggling traditional roles of spouses during the campaign. As someone who is knowledgeable about government Leslie isn't going to just take a backseat and pat her husband on the back the entire campaign, she has opinions of her own, and Ben wants to allow his wife to have an active role.
If you watch this clip from the show, I think it sums up their relationship pretty well and makes a powerful statement about breaking out of the social categories that have been built up around politicians.
In this ever-important midterm election, I am not sure we have any Ben Wyatts, but Congress sure as heck needs some.
Since 2016, we have seen more women enter the political arena bringing with them a wide span of ages and a diverse array of cultural backgrounds. This is great, as a woman, it is extremely encouraging to me to see the glass ceiling being shattered and for more women stepping up and being given the votes that will allow them to make a much-needed change in our country.
But women are only 50 percent of the population.
Bringing more women into Congress isn't going to allow for all of the change we need. We need more opinions and those opinions need to come from women, but also from men of different views than the ones who have held on to their seats in Congress for long enough.
Many of the men in Congress are out of date and do not hold progressive ideas, be they moderate, conservative or liberal. In addition to more women in Congress, we need younger men to join in on the conversation.
What was also great about Ben Wyatt is that he was running for a seat in a small town in Indiana. It wasn't a big city in some notoriously liberal state. By developing the character of Ben Wyatt in the way he was I think it shows that it is possible for middle America to bring in younger members of Congress who reflect diverse values and backgrounds.
You can call me crazy for believing this and making this argument based off of a television sitcom that may portray a small middle America town in an idyllic and perhaps utopian way, but I do believe it is possible.
The demographics of America are changing, all across the country, and it has been brought up a lot, but this means our Congress needs to look like our country.
There has to be some real-life Ben Wyatts out there, and they need to be running for Congress. These next-generation congressmen should be bringing their families with them, supporting their wives in whatever career they want, and also be collaborating with the increasing amount of congresswomen who are their equals.