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The 2016 election and the aftermath of said election has honestly felt like that of a script pulled right from the world of Star Wars. With the rise of President Trump (“So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause”) to, (*SPOILER ALERT*), Anakin Skywalker turning to the Dark Side, I have been finding one too many connections between the fictional universe of Star Wars and our own universe here in post-election America.
No, I don’t think America is turning into a spiritual “dark side” through the election of President Trump (though many on the left would argue otherwise), but I do find some interesting commonalities between the tragic character, Anakin Skywalker, and the very-real Republican Party of 2016-2017.
In one iconic scene from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan-Kenobi confronts Anakin (the newly anointed “Darth Vader”) on the lava planet of Mustafar. In a heated back and forth between Obi-Wan and Anakin, Obi-Wan exclaims to Anakin that “you’re becoming the very thing you swore to destroy”, referring to, of course, the Sith.
I can understand that some may find these parallels to be a bit dramatic, and to that, I confess they are likely correct. However, the underlying message, I believe, needs to be made. The GOP has, since taking power of both chambers of Congress, as well as the presidency, began the process of governing more and more like the Democrats that they decried over the past eight-years under the Obama Administration.
Furthermore, outside of Washington D.C., we are witnessing millions of conservatives and Republicans lambasting their liberal and Democratic counterparts, telling them to “suck it up” and that “you lost, we won, deal with it”.
I must confess that as a libertarian, I cringe at what is happening in our political discourse on both sides of the political isle. As a registered Republican, I find myself in the more “optimistic” camp when compared to my Democrat brothers and sisters. I remember back in 2009 after the inauguration of Barack Obama where those on the right openly questioned what would happen to our constitutional rights, with many going as far to label President Obama as a “fascistic, racist, Muslim, etc…” who was hell bent on destroying America as we knew it.
And all the while (especially in the two years preceding the election in which Democrats controlled all of Congress and the presidency), my leftist friends would openly mock those on the right who were vocalizing their fears of the Obama presidency and the aftermath that would follow.
We watched as President Obama acted unilaterally through the use of “his phone and his pen”, and were rightfully outraged as we watched the role of the presidency continue to become inflated with each passing executive order. We watched as Democrats changed rules in Congress and conducted back-room deals, and were rightfully frustrated at the prospects of our democratic-republic being undermined from the inside.
We responded as best we could. We organized the “Tea Party” marches across America, and through the activism, were able to insert a “Tea-Party wave” of liberty-minded individuals into Congress, among them the likes of Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Justin Amash, and Senator Mike Lee. Our goal was simple: “Return our country to the Constitutional principles that have made America the ‘shining city on a hill.'”
We fought for and won the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-terms, and took control of both chambers of Congress in the mid-terms of 2014. During this time of resistance, despite the division of ideas within the GOP, we were unified against an abusive, inflated, and overbearing presidency who was all too open to acting on his own. Those on the right were labeled obstructionists. We were told to get in line. Yet we fought back, and were able to hold some checks and balances in place all the while.
Then, Trump happened. After eight years under President Obama, Republicans were tired of being pushed around by a president who didn’t share their values. They were tired of being talked down to by a president who viewed them as simpletons clinging to their “guns and religion”. While some Republican candidates for president stood up to represent a fundamental shift in the manner in which the president should govern (Sen. Rand Paul, and in some instances, Sen. Ted Cruz), the GOP ultimately selected their own version of an executive branch bully who had no qualms in uttering the infamous words, “You’re Fired!”.
For months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Democrats and some Republicans alike positioned Trump as en egotistical, narcissistic, demeaning, and vulgar person. I must confess that I too helped perpetuate some of these positions, as I was admittedly concerned at the prospects of a right-wing authoritarian at the head of our government.
With the propagating of fear and disgust at then candidate-Trump, millions of Americans began to view him as “the next Hitler”, with some media personalities even going as far as to label him as much. Then, despite all scientific polls showing otherwise, Trump won the election, leading to a cataclysmic breakdown of the progressive’s psyche.
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself how I intend to connect the Star Wars universe to our own, and understandably so.
The answer goes back to the quote Obi-Wan directed towards Anakin in Revenge of the Sith:
“You’re becoming the very thing you swore to destroy.”
The Tea-Party Republicans and conservatives made it a point to address the issues they had with the Obama Administration, with emphasis on the executive overreach being done to bypass Congress. Now that it is Trump at the head of the Executive Branch, all of these valid concerns and complaints have fallen to the wayside, as it is their authoritarian at the head of government; not their opposition.
This highlights a greater issue in American politics and government, with that being the absolute lack of consistency and principles coupled with blatant hypocrisy so-long as it fits the narrative.
Republicans were right to raise concerns with President Obama’s executive overreaches, and yet suddenly have fallen silent now that it is Trump issuing the executive orders.
Republicans were right to be upset with rules being changed to favor one political party over the other, yet now find themselves enacting nearly identical policies.
Republicans were right to protest unconstitutional acts being committed by President Obama and congressional Democrats, yet now label all those protesting (not rioting, mind you) as “precious snowflakes” because they can’t accept the fact that “we won, you lost”.
Yes, the wise words of Obi-Wan-Kenobi ring true in 2017, despite his words echoing back from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”.
Unless Republicans are able to look themselves in the mirror and in fact admit they are following down the same path as those Democrats and liberals did back in 2009, they will indeed “become they very thing they swore to destroy”.