Choosing a President for Alderaan Reasons: Modern Mythmaking & the “Dark Side” of Presidential Politics

bernie-lightsaberMyth matters.

Gilgamesh slayed the great beast Humbaba. Persephone was abducted by Hades. Anubis weighs hearts at the threshold of eternity. There is great meaning to be gleaned from each of these mythological still shots, a meaning that does not depend on historical veracity, on whether they actually happened, or happen.

Oh, and here’s another one: Han Solo shot Greedo. First.

Again, myth matters. But modern myths may matter even more as we head into the heart of the 21st century and beyond. Homer had little use for sonic screwdrivers or tricorders, but it’s hard to imagine life in the pending centuries without some form of information magic wand—apologies to Thor’s Mjölnir.

Not all modern mythmaking is techno-laden, however. Neither the heroic brotherhood of Samwise Gamgee nor the swashbuckling courage of Reepicheep nor the scholarly witch-withal of Hermione require power couplings and warp drives. Even so, while no whirring T.A.R.D.I.S can ferry anyone to a point in space-time to witness their esteemed constitutions, these characters of true character are real in every ethical sense though they be composed merely of words.

Through myth—and without ever having to go quail hunting with Dick Cheney, thank the Force—we can experience the full spectrum of spite, from Uncle Vernon to Emperor Palpatine. We can also study more complex fallen states, from bully Cousin Eustace’s brief tenure as a dragon to Anakin Skywalker’s decades-long redemption that, to tell the tale, requires many a’ yellow word scrolled across an intergalactic background.

Of course, exemplars of goodness also fill the pages of contemporary myth, from the eye-twinkling sagacity of Gandalf and Dumbledore to the preternatural purr and irresistible ruff of Aslan. And the angel on the shoulder is sometimes no less complex a figure than its opposite-end demon: case in point, a space pirate with a knack for setting Kessel Run records, a conflicted Klingon or Vulcan here or there, not to mention an archaeology professor with a bullwhip e’er in pursuit of that which belongs in museums.

Speaking of which, let’s doff our fedoras to Rowling and Lucas and Moffat and Lewis and Tolkien and Rodenberry, etc., et al, for tapping Joseph Campbell’s cosmic axial tree and lighting our moral way. Because of these storytellers, we remain wary of white witches handing out Turkish delight on wintry eves. More importantly, we can tell the difference between trying and doing and know full well that “wars not make one great.”

That said, something that simply blows my Muggle mind is how we collectively have no difficulty sorting Jedi from Sith in a Cineplex, yet cannot make such critical judgments when it comes to real-life political characters. I have yet to hear a single person extol the virtues of a Ferengi or Dalek, yet roughly half the U.S. population is prepared to vote for a Republican candidate who not only embraces Gordon-Gekko-“greed-is-good” capitalism but does so while drinking frothily from the teat of the global military industrial complex.

Seriously, spend a minute contemplating the fact that there is almost no possible way, period, in which Donald Trump, Ben Carson or any other current Republican Presidential Candidate could ever be portrayed as a hero in the fictional worlds of Star Wars, Narnia, Star Trek, Middle Earth, Dr. Who, and Harry Potter. (Hell, I’m not even sure there’s a space zany enough for the villainy of Ted Cruz other than Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.) In other words, in our most significant mythological cosmoses, we know right from wrong, Civilization from Barbarism. But when it comes to the real world, half of the population is sorely lost in space-time.

This, of course, leads me down an irresistible lexical path. Just as a caricature blows up a person’s physicality to more precisely identify his or her warts and beauty marks, so putting the presidential candidate front-runners in their modern myth places helps us realize just who the hell we might be on the verge of voting for.  Sorry, I simply could not resist the Dark Side:

Donald Trump: Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance (Star Trek)

Ben Carson: Gungan theologian/historian (Star Wars)

Marco Rubio: Young Conservative (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Ted Cruz: Some yet unwritten End Times fiction series by Tim LaHaye

Jeb Bush: Trade Federation Viceroy (Star Wars)

Rand Paul: Gilderoy Lockhart redux (Harry Potter)

John Kasich: every gray suit Governor in the Empire (Star Wars)

Carly Fiorina: Ab-Fab BFF of Jadis the White Witch (Narnia)

Chris Christie: Hutt crime lord (Star Wars)

Rick Santorum: Weeping Angel (Dr. Who)

Bernie Sanders: 42 (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Like I said, Myth Matters.

Vote, but vote wisely. And know where your towel is. Always.

Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!


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  • puzzled1

    Puzzling . . . Pastor Pillow, if myth matters, perhaps Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), need your sage advice.

    Senator Sanders declared during last month’s Democratic presidential debate that:

    “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!” he said, with Clinton nodding and smiling in agreement.

    Yet on Wednesday, November 4th (probably after seeing a decline in his polling), Senator Sander’s declared a federal probe into the matter should continue.

    Which is the truth Pastor Pillow and which is the myth?

    Better yet if myth matters, perhaps you can sort out the truth or the myth about this USA Today article:

    Veterans Affairs pays $142,000,000 in bonuses amid performance scandals

    The USA Today article pointed out that in a VA facility in Tomah, Wis., the former chief of staff of the VA medical center there, Dr. David Houlihan — whom veterans nicknamed the “Candy Man” because of his prolific prescribing of narcotics — received a $4,000 bonus in December. That bonus was paid only nine months after an inspector general investigation report concluded Houlihan was prescribing alarmingly high amounts of opiates. And it was four months after Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski, 35, died of “mixed-drug toxicity” as an inpatient after he was prescribed a fatal cocktail of medications, including opiates. Not only that the VA moved last month to fire Houlihan. A lawyer who represented
    Houlihan did not respond to a message Tuesday seeking comment.

    Some of you may say “woohoo” about the actions of “the Candy Man”, but a soldier died, due to the actions of a government senior “doctor”.

    This is the same issue that our current Progressive “Resident in Chief” said in front of the people of the United States that he would: “make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best health care possible”

    This was only one of many incidents reported by USA Today about the incompetence of the “government” representatives (doctors/nurses/administrators) within the VA, where US taxpayers had to pay $142,000,000 in performance bonuses.

    Our veterans are dying and we allow bonuses to be paid.

    Truth or myth Pastor Pillow?

    Lastly, our Progressive Resident in Chief, Barack Hussein Obama, suffered a setback this week. According to the Washington Post:

    The federal appeals court quoted President Obama’s own words claiming he had powers to “change the law” were part of the reason it struck down his deportation amnesty, in a ruling late Monday that reaffirmed the president must carry out laws and doesn’t have blanket powers to waive them.

    In an opinion, Judge Jerry E. Smith, writing for himself and Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, singled out Mr. Obama’s own claim that he acted to rewrite the law because Congress wouldn’t pass the bill he wanted.

    Boohooo, Resident Obama.

    Myth or Truth Pastor Pillow?. Does our Resident in Chief have to follow his
    oath of office or not?

    • Arik Bjorn

      Definitely a top five all-time bizarre comment. Next.

  • mucklucky

    Typical liberal/progressive insight. Expounds the virtues of mythology and denies the goodness of morals.

    “Seriously, spend a minute contemplating the fact that there is almost no possible way, period, in which Donald Trump, Ben Carson or any other current
    Republican Presidential Candidate could ever be portrayed as a hero…”

    So you prefer a liar like Hillary as your hero?

    Again, deny the concept of morality… and continue your fantasy.

    • Arik Bjorn

      Clearly you made your comment without reading the entire article. And your assertion that morals are separate from mythology is absurd.

      • mucklucky

        Morals are grounded in principals of right and wrong, a standard.of truth.
        Mythology is based on fantasy believed by many people, but not true.

      • Arik Bjorn

        Hmm. I was once grounded by a principal.

        Mucklucky, I’m just going to leave the rest of your comment there for others to stare at, along with the juxtaposition of the chimp facepalm. Kind of says it all.

  • puzzled1

    Puzzling . . .

    Modern mythmaking & the “dark side” of Presidential politics . . .

    From our current “Resident in Chief” Barack Hussein Obama who went on ABC’s Good Morning America and declared “I don’t think ISIL is gaining strength. What is true is that from the start our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them.”

    Really Mr. Resident?

    Do you think “containment” includes the 224 Russians who died by an ISIS
    bomb? Ooopsie, I forgot about that one . . .

    Then, just a few hours later, in one of the most progressive socialist countries (and one which completely forbids it’s citizens to possess
    firearms) over 100 people are killed and over 300 more are injured by whom?

    Those “contained” ISIS terrorists.

    Which is the myth, and which is the truth Pastor Pillow?

    One last item, CBS, in preparing for the Democrat fashion show (aka debate)tonight announced to the Bernie Sanders staff, that due to the
    unfolding events in France, CBS might ask questions about foreign affairs during the debate.

    Sanders staff said “unfair” you cannot change debate topics at the last minute.

    Perhaps in the socialist utopia of Vermont world events unfold slower, nevertheless a REAL leader should be prepared at any time, for any topic.

    Except for Progressive Democrats?