Today is a very unique middle day. Yesterday was the season premiere of the fifth and final season of The Wire (except for those people who sneaked it early on HBO on demand), and tomorrow is the New Hampshire primary.
Yesterday, The Wire continued present us its vision of why America needs change more than anything and why that change will never come. Season 3 - the season most directly focused on reform - takes the complex world of the first two seasons, and shows how that world will not deal with reforms no matter if the reformer is a drug lord or a police captain. Season 4 added the failure of the American school system (and family) to the mix. Now we have Season 5, which seems intent on taking everything that came before and adding the press into the mix. Granted, the episode felt a little cramped and the introduction of the Sun reporters felt more like the slow intro of our cops in Season 1 than the thought-provoking debut of our school kids in Season 4. However, what we were really presented with was a final vision of the destruction of hope, whether through Carcetti's cuts, McNulty's decent into alcoholism, or Marlo's silent war on the co-op. Who knows what the rest of the season will bring, but it's going to be tragedy. The media is the institution tasked with informing us of the failure of the other institutions of our society. Over the next 13 episodes we will most likely come to see is that the media is no more successful than those it's supposed to be reporting on.
Tomorrow, the New Hampshire primary will continue a primary election that the media has dubbed to be about change. The lead story coming out of Iowa was that with Obama's and Huckabee's wins, the voters declared the need for change. New Hampshire will be either continuation of that theme or perhaps mark the end of it. Or perhaps Hilary and McCain will take up the change mantle. It really all depends what the media will tell us.
Today, we are caught in the middle. We have been presented with the most compelling criticism of America that our modern world has created, and we are on the eve of what could be the beginning of a remedy. Whether Obama's change will crash the way Carcetti's has or Hillary's change will be like Royce's - more of the same old, we don't know. But we have an opportunity to try to make a difference. And as much as they fail, the battered heroes of The Wire who continually fight a never ending up hill battle should remind us that even though the system might not work, small victories are worth fighting for.