15 Episodes of The West Wing We Need Now More Than Ever

12 of 16

7.17 Election Night Part II / 7.20 The Last Hurrah

After a long, sometimes tense and exhausting campaign, election night is upon the Santos and Vinick teams. It’s a heavy and emotional one for all sides and beyond as they deal with the death of Santos’ VP candidate Leo McGarry – stemming from real life sudden death of John Spencer, packing an extra mournful punch. The votes are pouring in throughout the night, and the teams are realizing there’s nothing left to do but wait.

And when Arnold Vinick loses by a close margin in the end, his team pushes and pushes him to fight it, to push for a recount and to do anything to make sure, to invalidate this, to make it right.

But Vinick is firm on his point – win or lose, he was doing so graciously and with dignity. If he had won, he would’ve accepted it without question. As the loser, he would do much the same – accept defeat, and know that the people had spoken.

Weirdly, these days, we even have winners being sore…winners?

There’s something to be said for dignity, grace and professionalism in politics, something many fear is lost these days. Arnold Vinick was a good man, and he gave his best fight. In the end, the respectful relationship he had with Santos paid off, when Santos later appointed him Secretary of State in a show of bipartisanship. Santos knew, even throughout the election, that Vinick was stronger on foreign policy than he was – and he trusted him to do well, to do right.

Such a move I, unfortunately, can’t imagine today.