Star Wars in Washington
The government of Star Wars was, at the beginning, a bloated and corrupt democracy, which was intended to offer representative government not just to a collection of nations on one planet, but to nations scattered over galaxies. The Galactic Republic was a body of elected Senators protected by the Jedi Order of Knights. Sounds familiar, except that our Republic is protected only by laws, intentions, Capitol police, and we the people. We were all so taken with the idea of the Force because we could really use some knights right now with access to a universal force to help defend us from evil. Of course, then we learned that the Force could also be used for evil and that it was often stronger than when it was used for good. There must always be conflict in any good story.
The same dual nature of humans was at work in the universe that we see in our world. Right now, we have Joe Manchin starring as Kylo Ren (he’s a bit old for the role). He has not decided whether to work for the dark side or the light. He is a professed acolyte of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Joe Biden) but is tempted by the power of Darth Sidious aka Emperor Palpatine (Mitch McConnell) to ally with those on the dark side. Manchin (Kylo Ren) is back from the government’s holiday break with a new way to foil the Galactic Republic, well on its way to being the First Galactic Empire. Perhaps the January 6 insurrection wasn’t quite big enough to be equated with the Clone Wars, but it could be a precursor to a bigger battle.
Kylo Ren already convinced Congress to break up the deal made in the House to keep the Infrastructure Bill in train with the Build Back Better bill. Now that the Infrastructure Bill is law, Kylo Ren is trying to separate the Climate funding parts of the BBB bill from the social programs. This would probably be a death knell for any social programs that might assist American workers. We need money for addressing changes in our climate, like global warming, too much carbon in our atmosphere and rising sea levels, just to name a few. Climate change needs are pressing and large-scale actions are called for.
But splitting the bills will place a burden on women, a very undemocratic burden on women who work, given how the pandemic has affected women’s lives in more lasting ways than it has affected men’s lives, unless they are single fathers. Until in-school learning is stabilized, and it is anything but stable with omicron spiking, women with children are torn between work and home once again. Will their employers understand that children bouncing between in-school and at-home learning will require a flexible approach to in-office work and WFH? What if women could be certain their children were taken care of whether in or out of school during working hours?
Star Wars is not informative in this regard since we don’t see many women who are not leaders or warriors in Star Wars, and these women do not seem to have families. Look what happens to the movie-generated child of Han Solo and Leia (Kylo Ren) when he is caught up between the forces of good and evil – good for movie sequels, a nightmare in real life. Look what happens to Leia and Luke the orphaned (sort of) children of Anakin Skywalker and Padme. Star Wars could have used some social supports to help keep these children from going off on their own or being torn between the light and the dark.
Darth Sidious (Mitch McConnell) has an entire Senate and a segment of the House full of dark lords. Which one is Darth Bane, or Armitage Hux or Vitiate or Prince Xizor, Darth Krayt, Darth Malak, Count Dooku? Take your pick, which one is Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Matthew Cawthorn, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and the other cast of dark characters. Biden has many people in both bodies who are on the side of the light, who use the Force for good, but they are outnumbered, as the good guys are in all the most heroic battles.
Perhaps Joe Manchin is not Kylo Ren, perhaps he is Anakin Skywalker before he becomes Darth Vader, whose tortured inner battle between the light and the dark sent the Galactic Republic into a tailspin that left it in the clutches of Emperor Palantine and into an epic war between good and evil. Trump is, of course, Darth Vader, the empire’s worst parent ever, and the worst leader ever.
Should we allow ourselves to give in to the temptation to take care of Climate Change funding and leave women workers to fend for themselves? Should we keep the sections of the bill together because it is the only way to help lift more Americans out of poverty and to give children in our inner cities a chance to get a head start up the ladder of opportunity? These choices should convince us to embrace the light side of the force, which could eventually push back the forces of darkness that seem to be dominating America. Joe Manchin (Kylo or Anakin) must decide to either support his party and his party’s President because these are the forces for good, or go over to the dark side for real. We feel the anger roiling in our guts once again both because here is Anakin Skywalker/Kylo Ren once again holding back change, and it is just one day before the anniversary of the first attack of the Death Star, Darth Vader’s insurrection against the Galactic Republic as represented by the Rebel Alliance. It’s difficult to make politics fun, but a writer must try.