The Star Wars Universe is full of parallels to our own. We can find war, politics, religion, and even law reflected in George Lucas’s expansive empire. We know, for example, that the Rebel Alliance was a social movement determined to win back power from a government they deemed illegitimate. Instead of addressing their grievance, the Empire decided to go to war with the Rebels and through several military mishaps and a bit of Jedi luck, the Empire lost their grip on the galaxy and the Rebels eventually regained power.
Similarly, one of the aspects of Episode 8 that I am most curious about is “who is in charge?”. What is the position of the First Order and the Resistance in greater galactic politics? Is there a Galactic President residing at Coruscant? Could it be Lando Calrissian? Please?
But before I postulate about what could happen in future episodes, I’d like to connect a political post I recently read with an era in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (aka Star Wars Legends).
On Monday, October 18th, Benjamin Wittes of Lawfareblog.com wrote a post entitled “A Coalition of All Democratic Forces, Part I: A Political Focus on What's Truly Important”. Wittes, a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, details the looming possibility of a Donald Trump presidency, the threat it poses, and the long list of people opposing Trump’s way of thinking. Wittes writes that Trump has caused Democrats and Republicans to come together as no other threat to democracy ever has. He concludes by putting forth the idea that Hillary Clinton should govern as a nationalist, putting aside party division for the sake of the ideas and values American Government is based on.
(His Part II article is equally interesting, in which he describes how Clinton should govern keeping in mind the support she has gotten from anti-Trump conservatives.)
While many have linked the rise of Donald Trump and the alt-right movement to the rise of Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars prequels ("So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause"), Wittes’ post reminded me not of the rise of the Galactic Empire, but of the Yuuzhan Vong War.
In Star Wars Expanded Universe lore, the Yuuzhan Vong were a species from outside the galaxy intent on wreaking havoc and destroying all in their path. According to the all-knowing and all-powerful Wookiepedia, the Yuuzhan Vong waited decades, poking and prodding the periphery before striking the Star Wars galaxy. When they finally attacked, the New Republic was ill-prepared. Entire systems of planets were destroyed and the entire foundation of the government was lost.
This is what Trump and his supporters talk about when they say they want to “shake up” Washington. They want to completely uproot the current government power structure. As anthropologist Grant McCracken wrote in 2015, Trump is a fire boat sent to port to destroy everything as it current exists.
Defeating the Yuuzhan Vong required the remnants of the New Republic to partner with their old enemy, the Empire. After Emperor Palpatine was killed by Darth Vader, the Imperial Remnant was a collection of warlords and Imperial personnel who held to the philosophies of the Emperor. They kept the battleships and military ideals and personnel of what was once a mighty Imperial military force.
In order to defeat the Yuuzhan Vong, the New Republic needed the Imperial Remnant. Likewise, in order to defeat Donald Trump, the Democrats need the remnants of the GOP. They need conservative voices such as the Bushes, Mitt Romney, and John McCain, those who have spoken out and refuse to support Donald Trump. They need conservatives who are not afraid to break from party lines for the sake of our constitutional republic.
According to Wittes,
“Clinton’s democratic foes also need to understand that however flawed she may be, she is not wrong when she says that, at least right now, she is the only thing standing between America and a political apocalypse of sorts.”Trump and his cronies represent a Yuuzhan Vong-type threat to Washington. He is the Tea Party on steroids. His belief system is so far out of line with the Washington way of business, he will cause irreparable damage to our way of governance. He will burn down Coruscant and make it uninhabitable.
It is very possible that somewhere in the Star Wars Galaxy, there was a planet untouched by the Yuuzhan Vong War. A planet on which lived a species that hated both the Empire and the Republic. One that thought both systems of governance were useless. One that hoped the Yuuzhan Vong would make the galaxy great again.