Star Wars and the Withering of Democracy

Throughout studying politics and watching political tensions increase and shift over the past few years, I continue to be reminded of this one quote in Episode 3 of the Star Wars saga.

“So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.”

I find that the sentiments expressed in a galaxy far far away scarily resemble very real situations within the global political sphere. Once again the fictional words of Senator Padme Amidala popped into my head as I watched the inauguration of the new US President Joe Biden. 

The past four years, and especially the time between the voting polls opening and Biden’s inauguration, seem to really encompass the essence of the statement. The country which likes to advertise itself as the bastion of freedom was incredibly close to once more championing a man as a president who has shown himself to not consider the ideas of liberty, democracy, or freedom as valuable. 

Considering further plot points, there is an additional resemblance between the situation George Lucas outlines in the galactic senate versus how Trump came into the presidency. The senator and, later, Emperor Palpatine gathered support through vague promises of security and prosperity, which sounds familiar to the tactics Trump employed. Many of the former President’s campaign promises were not realistic in terms of their actual implementation, such as building “that wall” and making Mexico pay for it. However, it was rather the uncertainty and instability within the United States, exacerbated by the continued polarization within society, that garnered Trump votes. History has seemingly proven again and again that fear often has more sway than any values do, resulting in populations turning to a strong authority figure again and again. 

Too often throughout history do democracies willingly handover power and let institutions dissolve when crisis strikes; relying on a singular figure to lead, resulting in dictatorships. The most extreme example being Germany’s early republic willingly giving Hitler unlimited power. This same nature is portrayed in the political arch of the Star Wars movies — the galactic senate cheering as they give a dangerous individual unlimited administrative power. Through the malleability of the Republican party, I would go so far as to claim that they enabled the former President to a similar degree.   

It may seem silly to equate Trump to a fictional villain, but when you consider the damage this man has wrought — on international relations, humanitarian and peace efforts, climate change, social services development, equality efforts in terms of race, sexuality, and gender, with these listed items not even fully encompassing the damage done as of 2016 — I wish that his presidency was just a villains story arch in a franchise. If we have learned anything from this comparison, it is that democracy is incredibly fragile and that we must act to keep it intact.




*DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of BAISmag or BASIS.*

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