Religion, Star Wars and Donald Trump

The original Star Wars movie, Episode IV, A New Hope, taught us about a The Force. Obi-Wan Kenobi explains to Luke Skywalker that the Force is “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” Essentially, it’s everyone’s collective will, working together toward the overall good of the universe. Star Wars teaches that the Force works with the help of midi-chlorians, microscopic organisms inside their bodies.

Many religions have a similar concept. Hindus believe in a unifying Brahman energy. Zoroastrians center on a good god against an evil god, much like the light and dark sides of the Force. Christians have the Holy Spirit, the presence of God in our daily lives. According to the Nicene Creed, God the Father created the heaven and the earth, Jesus the son died for our sins, and we experience the Holy Spirit today.

You can see this Holy Spirit, this Force, at work in the world. Many people, while going about their day-to-day lives, strive to be good persons, to do the right thing for others. We give to charity. We listen to our conscience when tempted to cheat. When we see someone hurting, if possible we step in to help. When we aren’t sure what to do, we listen to others. The collective wisdom of others, the consensus of the experts, helps us decide what is right and what is wrong. This is the Holy Spirit, the Force, at work.

Obi-Wan told Luke to “Use the Force”. This allowed him to relax, to focus, and to feel he was channeling a power greater than himself when he piloted his craft through tricky maneuvers. Hindus might meditate to achieve a similar focus. Christians pray for guidance, for strength, for help with things they feel are beyond their abilities. I personally have prayed for guidance, and gotten answers back from the Holy Spirit that I believe I never could have come up with on my own. I don’t know if midi-chlorians were involved, but it was very real to me. I haven’t been able to levitate space ships or raise the dead, but those deeds seem to be reserved for superstars like Luke and Jesus.

Just as there is a dark side to the Force, there is a dark side to the Holy Spirit. Christians call that side Satan. It’s similar in power as the light side, and appears to work in much the same way. When collective agents of darkness work together, they form a consensus that influences others. It happens with poppy growers in Afghanistan. It happens with drug cartels in Mexico. And it happens in Washington.

Obi-Wan told a storm trooper that “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” Newt Gingrich applied the same concept to politics. In the early 1980s, he stood in front of a CSPAN camera in the wee hours of the morning, giving speeches to an empty chamber about the virtues of far right politics. Cable TV channel surfers found him and listened, thinking they were seeing him speak to a packed house. With nobody to contradict him, he convinced many listeners he was right.

A decade later, Rush Limbaugh followed. Then Fox News was launched, taking the uncontested attacks on the left to a more professional level. Wide audiences tuned in, hearing person after person talk about the evils of the Democrats and how the far right was the only sensible position. The Republican party, which had been in disarray after Watergate, formed a persuadable base. They were told that only Fox News was true, that all others were the “lamestream media”.

And then along came Donald Trump. A narcissist with a checkered past, a self-promoted reputation as a rich and successful business mogul, and a liberal political history saw an opportunity. The Force was strong with this one. He talked, ala Newt, and talked, about how great he was, and how evil his opponents were. He was so outlandish, so foul, that the media focused on him. He managed to ride the torrent of bad publicity to the GOP presidential nomination.

Vladimir Putin, no stranger to the dark side of the Force, saw an opportunity. He knew he could bully Trump and keep him from interfering with his agenda to make Russia great again. He channeled social media to put his thumb on the 2016 election, tilting the election toward Trump, possibly just enough to get him elected. Putin likes an ineffective America, knowing he can do his will in Ukraine, Syria, and the like without having to worry that Trump might stand up to him.

Trump, now in the White House, is suddenly a far right politician. Of course, he doesn’t really care about the far right. As a narcissist, he cares who fawns over him and who speaks out against him. GOP politicians quickly figured out that, if they call Trump out, their careers are in jeopardy, but if they kiss Trump’s ring, they can get what they want. Leaders of the religious right, such as Franklin Graham, came to the same conclusion.

We now have a chorus of Republicans and evangelicals, holding their noses while they sing Trump’s praises. And it’s working. The Republican base, listening to Fox News, the Drudge Report, and even the Wall Street Journal, hear that the impeachment is a sham, that the Democrats aren’t following the constitution, and that these are not the droids they are looking for. Anyone who says differently, no matter how solid the evidence, is “Fake News”.

George Orwell’s Thought Police would be proud of Mr. Trump.