Gary David Goldberg tells us that adorable conservative Alex Keaton of the 80’s sitcom “Family Ties,” played by adorable liberal Michael J. Fox, would vote for Barack Obama today.
It is a common, if weak debating device to bring up a revered figure long gone and invest him with the debater’s opinion. "If Martin Luther King were alive today he'd..." "Ronald Reagan would never have..." "The Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves because of..."
This happened immediately with William F. Buckley as liberal commentators, upon hearing of his death, tripped one another in order to be first in print and on the air saying how much they respected him as opposed to "conservatives today." Many of these people didn't like Buckley when he was alive, which I remind you was only about two weeks ago.
Buckley, I think proves my point. Had he died several years ago I am sure many today would say with certainty that he would be supportive of the troop surge and the policies of President Bush in Iraq. In fact, he came lately to speaking against the war.
We have no idea what King, Reagan, Lincoln or any other historical figure would say in regards to the issues of today.
In contrast, the article "Just what would Alex Keaton do?" attempts to determine who the smart, conservative, self assured young Alex would vote for today and is reasonable in doing so for this reason; the article's author, Gary David Goldberg, created the character.
It is like when we learned that Albus Dumbledore of the Harry Potter books is gay. "Who says?" J.K. Rowling says, and so that is all there is to it.
So Goldberg weaves a fair and compelling tale of Alex's loyalty to his principles and his frustration with current choices, especially McCain. That is straight out of the conversation on blogs and talk shows featuring conservatives today. In the end he has his man somewhat reluctantly, but with a leap of faith - hope - pull a lever for Barack Obama. That is the creator's prerogative.
But Goldberg slips in the middle of the exercise. It is difficult to write a character different from yourself and to have that character ring true, especially with those most likely to know him if he were actually real. It is too easy to lose the character for just a moment and have him say something that you would say; something that he would instantly speak against if you would let him.