Alex Massie

The Politics of The Wire

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Jonh Goldberg says that The Wire should be more popular amongst conservatives. He argues that conservatives should love The Wire because it shows what happens when you let Democrats run a major, if declining, American city. Well! At a certain point this is too dull for words: have we really reached the stage where even TV programmes have to be apportioned between conservatives and liberals so that watching television becomes a dreary act by which one demonstrates ones political allegiance?

In any case, if you have to investigate The Wire's politics, it seems to me that you might be tempted to conclude that it endorses a libertarian view of local politics, rather thanĀ  conservative or liberal perspective. No wonder it's such a trendy show to like... The evidence is there: manifest failure of a crippling and immoral war on drugs? Check. Manifest failure of a school system resistant to reform and implicitly ripe, therefore, for real school choice? Check. Desperate consequences of the criminalisation of prostitution? For sure. Ghastly consequences of local government and planning regulations held hostage by rent-seeking? Yup, that too.

Factor in The Wire's popularity amongst educated pointy-headed Beltway-libertarian types and the fact that it wasn't very popular across the country as a whole and, yup, it seems clear that The Wire was probably too libertarian to be successful. Hence no EMMYs and precious few viewers.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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