Watch The West Wing cast's emotional plea to vote: 'We have to stay engaged'
"What's next?" was President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet's go-to phrase on The West Wing, and the cast of the show is asking the same question ahead of this November's election.
In an exclusive video to mark EW's cover story reuniting the West Wing cast, creator Aaron Sorkin is joined by Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Bradley Whitford, and more stars from the beloved series to encourage fans to vote.
Sorkin and Whitford, who played Josh Lyman, say the political drama exemplified true American values.
"Each and every episode of The West Wing was a taking back of the word 'patriotism,'" Sorkin says.
Whitford adds, "Its legacy is a celebration of not only public service — but the thing I'm proudest of is that it was not cynical."
The cast goes on to emphasize that voting is neither a partisan issue nor an extracurricular. Instead, the actors stress that voting is a vital duty that citizens shouldn't take for granted.
"I believe in our rights as Americans to participate in choosing our leaders and choosing our destinies, and everybody should vote. Because voting shouldn't be a partisan issue. It should be an American issue. Everybody's vote counts equally — or should," Lowe says, channeling his optimistic character, Sam Seaborn.
"This country is based on the idea that the future is an act of our own creation, and political participation by everyone is really important," Whitford adds. "Politics is the way you create your moral vision. It's not an extracurricular."
Richard Schiff and Hill highlight that there's a lot at stake in 2020 and people need to hit the booths if they want change.
"There's never been a more important moment in our history," says Schiff.
Hill continues, "We have to stay engaged if we want to see ourselves reflected in our country."
The cast is also gathering together to promote the upcoming West Wing special to benefit When We All Vote, Michelle Obama’s nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring that everyone is registered to vote. The special is set to air this fall on HBO Max.
“This is the first time we’ve done this in 20 years,” Sorkin tells EW for the cover story while noting cast members and producers have supported individual causes. “Never before have we gathered the cast onto [the show] logo in front of [W.G.] Snuffy Walden’s [theme] music and done something as The West Wing.... I don’t think anybody would argue that right now, if you have any capital at all, spend it.”
Throughout its run from 1999 to 2006, The West Wing earned critical acclaim for its examination of politics and its depiction of dedicated White House staff serving under the principled President Bartlet (Martin Sheen).
Watch the entire video to hear more from the actors, also including Joshua Malina and Janel Moloney.
To register for the upcoming election and find other voting resources, visit When We All Vote, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to ensuring everyone is registered to vote.
For more on The West Wing cast reunion and EW's 30th anniversary, order the September issue of Entertainment Weekly now. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.