This seasons newest White House based drama, “Designated Survivor,” has captivated audiences across the nation and left its viewers considering the potential reality of the show. The series follows the story of the designated survivor, Tom Kirkman, a low level cabinet member, after a catastrophic attack kills nearly every figurehead in Washington D.C. Kirkman is the nation’s only hope in this time of terror, but he lacks experience, and the nation lacks confidence in his ability to proceed as president.
The first two episodes give a look into the military presence, police power, and an FBI investigation to determine who caused the act of terrorism. There is a theme of widespread racism towards Muslims, or rather anyone who appears to be Muslim, with heightened security against only them. More specifically, the Michigan governor has not only allowed, but ordered his police to hunt down Muslim citizens for interrogations. The governor allows the police to beat and unjustly drag these citizens into the station, against President Kirkman’s orders. The governor is not even remotely compelled to respect or follow the president’s demands because the governor feels he holds greater power than the president. He does not accept Kirkman as president, and ultimately the governor will do whatever he feels is best to protect his citizens.
President Kirkman knows he must take action, and after receiving conflicting legal opinions about how forceful his order should be, he creates his own option. President Kirkman video calls with Michigan’s governor and primarily orders the governor to release the wrongfully held Muslim citizens and stop the police from their inappropriate actions. The governor again refuses to take the president’s order, so Kirkman declares that the governor will be charged with obstructing a federal investigation if he does not. Kirkman goes on to explain that a few of the Muslim men being held are undercover agents, and it is confidential as to which men are the undercover agents. The viewer’s ultimately find out the president was bluffing after the governor agrees to the president’s orders and they end their video call. This was one of the first glimpses of strength viewer’s see in President Kirkman, and it allows viewers to believe that Kirkman may be fit for the presidential position.
The struggle between the state’s power and the president’s power is an important topic to consider during such a time of wreckage. If our nation became as post-apocalyptic as the television show portrays, states will feel obligated to protect themselves, and it could leave a nation broken, especially without a strong presidential presence. Kirkman’s lie, although unethical, may have been one of the few options he had to keep the rest of the nation from falling apart. A new president in this position would need to demand and maintain control, while still not overreaching into the state’s powers to make the moves they feel are appropriate. Clearly, the president had to step in and take a stance against Michigan’s governor, or order could have been permanently lost.
Only a mere two episodes in and “Designated Survivor” has already opened the floor for many controversial topics. It will definitely be worth it to tune in to see where the show will take its characters with such a powerful plot line.