What Star Wars Taught Me About Politics

With elections next month and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story coming out in December (which I am very excited about by the way), it only makes sense to combine the two! So strap in…

I watched Star Wars episode III, Revenge of the Sith.

After being underwhelmed by the first two prequels, the third one far exceeded what I was expecting.  Of course, my expectations were quite low at that point. And yes, Revenge of the Sith has issues.

But I want to focus on something deeper than story structure flaws, character development mistakes, and Jar Jar Binks.

During the movie, it felt like Lucas was communicating a not-so-subtle political commentary. Let’s clarify first – I am unaware of Lucas’ stand on politics. Further, my observations may be nothing close to what he was trying to communicate.

For what it is worth, here is my perspective.

anakin and padme

In the first scene, Anakin and his wife Padme (ahem, who he secretly married) talk about the current political situation. I know, right? So engaging. Anakin is torn between his allegiance to the Republic, his duty to the Jedi Order, and his friendship to Chancellor Palpatine.

Before you have time to nod off, Palme drops a fascinating observation:

What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?  —  Padme Amidala

Padme’s statement becomes prophetic. Soon, Chancellor Palpatine reveals himself to be a Sith Lord – Darth Sidious.

Democracy had been dead for a while. A long while.

padme and the senate

The Chancellor Palpatine (a.k.a, Darth Sidious) goes before the Senate. As he declares the Republic has been reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, Padme once again proves to be the smartest person in the room.

So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause. — Padme Amidala

Interesting.

The Republic that Anakin and Padme both fought so hard for turned into the very evil the Republic was to be against. How did the unthinkable happen?

One small step at a time.

liberty-picture

The gridlocked Senate and never-ending wars (orchestrated by Chancellor Palpatine) were tiring the people out. As frustration grew, Palpatine’s powers grew.

  • Naboo is being attacked! Palpatine becomes the new Chancellor in the midst of a crisis.
  • We must defeat the Separatist threat! Palpatine receives emergency powers from the Senate.

As Palpatine plays into the frustration and polarization of the Senate, he continues to gain more and more power. Once the Jedi finally realize his power, it is too late. They even attempt to arrest and assassinate him, but it only backfires.

The Chancellor’s job is easy from here on out. Address the Senate, accuse the Jedi of trying to overthrow the Republic, and proclaim himself Emperor of the new empire.

And tyranny begins…with thunderous applause.

Here is what I think we can learn about politics from Star Wars Episode III.

Polarization Leads to Frustration

It is no secret that America has polarized drastically in the past 10 years. As polarization accelerates, we see first hand the aggression shown toward each other. What happened to standing for what you believe and being open minded to the other side?

The Rising Tide of Mutual Antipathy

 

When opposing sides polarize, a gap is created. As the gap deepens, so does the frustration. Extremes become even more extreme. Sides react to the other side’s reaction.

The gap just keeps getting bigger. A gap, in and of itself, does not have to be a “horrible thing”. But as soon as we shut communication down and place up barriers, the bridges across the gap fall apart. It does not matter who started the debate. Or who is not listening to who. The fact of the matter – whether it is good, bad, or indifferent – is that we are polarized.

What is bad about this whole thing? We fail to be open-minded toward each other. And this has only made us angrier. Polarization had led to frustration.

Democrats and Republicans More Ideologically Divided than in the Past

Frustration Leads to Tyranny

Frustration with current situations is understandable. Trust has eroded for good reason. No one I talk to on a daily basis is happy about where we, as a nation, are. According to research, only 19% of Americans trust government. I am surprised the number is even that high.

As trust erodes, the gap deepens. As frustration reaches critical mass, the gap continues to get larger. That widening gap has created a vacuum.

And that vacuum is dangerous. Extremely dangerous.

Something or someone will fill that vacuum. They will promise to bring balance, peace, order, and justice. They will be decisive amidst the bickering and debating. They will make things happen. Happen, they will.

  • To get through the gridlock, they need more power.
  • To defeat this insurmountable enemy, they need more power.
  • To win this war and ensure the safety of its citizens, they need more power.
  • To act in the best interest of the Republic, they need more power.

And as Obi-Wan Kenobi says to Anakin, now Darth Vader, near the end of the movie:

…you’ve become the very thing you swore to destroy.

Tyranny begins…with thunderous applause.

fear-picture

The Path We Take

It is so easy in an article like this to rant about personal political views. That is not what is important. What is important is that you understand how frustration plays into politics.

Avoid it.

Frustration clouds our judgment and hinders us from making better decisions.  At the end of the day, this 2016 election is not the most critical decision you can make this year. The most critical decision you can make is about…

YOU.

Listen to the wisdom of Yoda. He nails it here in one of his most memorable lines:

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. — Yoda

Fear. Frustration. Anger. It is all a path to the dark side, and will always lead to suffering and hurt. What will you do? What path will you take?

Um, got it. But what does this have to do with the 2016 elections?

The 2016 Election

Here is the commitment I made January, 2016:

I am not going to vote for the lesser of two evils. I refuse to cast a vote for someone because I am afraid of someone else getting into office. I will not let my frustration cause me to support the wrong candidate.

So who am I voting for?

In Exodus 18, Jethro visits his son-in-law Moses and gives him wise advice. If Moses is to select men to judge the people, he is going to need the very best men. Jethro sets the standard:

Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people… — Exodus 18:21

Here is the standard. A candidate must fit two criterion:

  1. Must Honor God
  2. Must be Honest

It is that simple.

vote-picture.jpg

Your Choice

I understand no candidates in our world will ever fit that criterion perfectly. Most of the time, we are left asking: “Does this candidate’s life come at least close to the standard?”

How close is eventually up to you. Personally, I have decided neither candidate comes close.

But that’s just my personal opinion. 🙂

You’re crazy!!!! We must vote for the lesser of two evils!!

Voting should never be about choosing the lesser of two evils. The question we must all confront is: “Does this choice honor God?” At the end of the day, that is your choice. Not mine. You must study the candidates, compare what they say and do to what God says, and decide.

Guess what – that is the amazing thing about living in a free country like America. We can vote for who we wish and express our opinions openly. But if there is one last thing I would challenge you with, it would be this:

Do not let fear or frustration control who you vote for.

That, my friends, is what Star Wars has taught me about politics.

title