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WWAKD (What Would Alex Keaton Do)


It’s been almost twenty years since Family Ties went off the air. And, Alex P. Keaton’s political idols Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan have each gone off to their deserved places in history. Yet I still get asked a lot, well okay maybe not a lot but more than twice, whether Alex P. Keaton would be a Republican today. And, if so, who would be his candidate in the 2008 presidential election?

Before I go any further I should point out that I’m a registered Independent. I vote Democratic most of the time but not always. And, I am part of the 75% of Americans who strongly disapprove of the job George Bush has done as President of our United States.

I should also point out that in order to properly represent Alex and his political point of view I, as well as the rest of the Family Ties writers, did a great deal of research on this subject. And during that time I developed a very healthy respect for the true conservative point of view. A powerful and proud strain of American political thought. And, even today I bow to no one in my desire to see the capital gains tax eliminated.

Alex Keaton was a true conservative Republican. He was for limited government. He was strongly against government involvement in the personal lives of its citizens. He was competent and capable. The ultimate over-achiever. But, above all Alex Keaton was a firm believer in the power of ideas. The true conservative belief in the competitive marketplace of intellectual discourse. Where the best ideas win – usually Alex’s. And, so it’s difficult to recognize in this current incarnation of the Republican party, a party whose legacy will include Terri Schiavo and Hurricane Katrina, a place where Alex Keaton might feel the least bit comfortable.

Alex was smart. Real smart. And, proud of it. He also believed deeply in the power of science. And, the free exchange of scientific ideas. Uncensored. Unfettered by excessive government regulation. Not stifled by religious orthodoxy. Not re-written by political hacks with no academic or scientific credentials. So, it’s hard to picture Alex in a party which seems to be waging war against science. And, where their presidential candidates seem comfortable debating whether or not the earth is round.

On the other hand, I can’t see Alex easily voting for a Democrat. Alex was loyal. I think his natural inclination would have been to go for John McCain. But, that would have been John McCain in 2000, when he was still talking straight: Jerry Falwell was an agent of intolerance. And, waterboarding is torture. McCain going back on those two key points would have certainly kept Alex from pulling the lever for him now.

I think Ron Paul’s message is one that would resonate with Alex. And, he would appreciate Paul’s intellectual power, and his willingness to state his positions unequivocally and without regard to which way the political winds were blowing. I think he’d really like Huckabee’s ideas of getting rid of the IRS. (I know I do.) But, ultimately Alex likes to win and I think that would have kept him from fully committing to either of those guys.

Hillary Clinton? I have to disclose that I’ve known Hillary Clinton for 20+ years. I think she’s a warm, funny and caring person of formidable intelligence. And, I admire her greatly. And, I would love to be able to say that Alex would vote for her. But, I don’t think I believe that it could happen. If he did vote for her it would have to be a “very special” episode of Family Ties, indeed.

So, what about Barack Obama then? I honestly don’t know. I think Alex is an Independent now. And, certainly as deeply engaged in politics as ever. He would be intrigued by Obama. Impressed with his eloquence and his intelligence. Unhappy with his plan to tax the wealthy at a higher rate. But, keenly aware that eight years of neglect and corruption and no-bid contracts have to somehow be overturned. And, I think Obama’s slogan is very similar to Alex’s own personal mantra – “Of Course I Can.”

I think that Alex might just be ready to take a chance. Might just. I can picture him stepping into the voting booth, closing the curtain behind him, taking a very deep breath and then for the first time in his life putting his hand up to the Democratic party lever. He touches it tentatively, trying to get comfortable. Takes his hand off. Puts it back. He grasps the lever firmly now. Squeezes it. And, as he’s about to pull we FADE OUT. And, there’s your ACT BREAK.

For what it’s worth Michael Fox and I have differing opinions about just where Alex Keaton is today. I believe he does pro bono legal work for The Children’s Defense Fund.

Mike thinks he’s just now getting out of prison.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 29, 2008 4:04 PM.

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