The Star Wars Finale Shouldn’t Comfort Leftist Voters
The Anti-Trump Resistance is not in Yoda mode
So last night, the wife and I finally — finally — went to see The Rise of Skywalker, the final Star Wars movie, which should now bring the official count of humans who haven’t seen it yet to zero, not that I’ll spill any spoilers here. This outstanding entry must have felt like the world’s longest exorcism for director JJ Abrams, who did a heroic job of closing out the Skywalker legend with such panache, especially given that he had to clean up the mess left behind from the first two films of this trilogy, both of which were epic fails as far as I’m concerned.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, at least for people who’ve been Star Wars fans for 20 or so years, including me. It wrapped up the cinematic institution’s 40-year era in the most skillful, least maudlin way humanly possible.
I did have two quibbles with the new movie, the first of which was the oft-cited complaint of “Um, I thought Palpatine was dead,” something a lot of nerds couldn’t forgive. I easily could, given the movie’s overall greatness, so forget that.
No, to me, the only thing about the film that actually rang hollow this time was the traditional Star Wars “hidden” political message, because at this point in our society — when fascist ideology is flourishing within a ridiculously large segment of the population (and just received its first truly panic-inducing stamp of approval upon Trump’s ordering armed tactical forces — real-life stormtroopers — to terrorize sanctuary cities), and when the left has splintered into multiple shards — the idea of some sort of flowery “hey man, we have each other” message collapses with a dull thud.
There is no legitimate “organized resistance” to Trump’s (that is to say, Stephen Miller’s) only-half-trolling fascism. No matter which Democratic candidate gets the nod, a lot of lefties will be staying home and not voting.
It’s clearly unavoidable at this stage. In one liberal corner, we have the disciples of Pete Buttigieg, who are fine with his connection to special CIA operations, many of which have led to very bad things over the decades, from the La Penca bombing to hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee files, not to mention various regime-change-aimed assassinations and other niceties. Pete is my least desired choice, but yes, I’ll vote for him if necessary, not that Trump wouldn’t mop the floor with his humorless butt at the debates. God knows what the Bannon/Miller troll army would do to the guy, using deep fake videos and such.It would be absolutely unholy, and would certainly sway some undecideds, while a lot of low-information voters and progressives would abstain in one way or another.
In a second, much less threatening corner we have the sect of boomers who stubbornly refuse to admit that ex-Vice President Joe Biden is senile. Those long-subdued voters are accustomed to a world in which everything in life has to be difficult, where basic human rights like healthcare and shelter for downtrodden single moms, the disabled, etc. must be earned through soul-poisoning sacrifice and months-long battles with the system.
Moving on, we have the Klobuchar camp. She’s actually proved to be in possession of a decent sense of humor, which I hadn’t noticed before, thus lately I’ve thought of her less as a Hillary Mini-Me and more of a “Karen”-style “I need to speak to the manager” type with something of a conscience. Problem is, way too many progressives won’t forgive her for receiving support from hideous corporate monsters like Cargill. If she wins, Twitter will erupt into World War III over it, and, again, way too many disaffected voters may simply not show up for her when the whole ball game is on the line in November.
The worst news of all — at least to me — hasn’t been reported (or probably even noticed) by the mainstream media (now there’s a shocker). To wit, the hugely popular Chapo Trap House podcast team (the darlings of the progressive, Bernie-supporting “dirtbag left”) have committed to “promising” that their fans (and any other “ultra-woke,” mostly Millennial/Zoomer progressives) will not vote for anyone but Bernie, period. I can understand this get-out-the-vote strategy, and they’re probably right, but it will backfire disastrously if Bernie doesn’t win. Meanwhile, like MSNBC’s and CNN’s most tiresome, “Trump is a poopyhead”-blathering, vanilla-liberal pundits, Trump’s team will do everything it can to make it look like Bernie is the reincarnation of Stalin rather than some sort of American version of the prime minister of Norway.
Chapo isn’t a gaggle of mythical, trolling “Bernie Bros,” they just want the neoliberal corporate madness to stop, for the benefit of struggling younger people who want to have happy lives someday. I don’t blame them. In fact, to me and many other observers, the whole “Bernie Bro” thing is a myth. I happily voted Bernie in the NH primary. My only problem with him is the danger that his labor union base might continue abandoning him, because “Medicare for All,” as they see it, rudely “nullifies” all of organized labor’s efforts over the last hundred years, back when they were fighting for proper healthcare and other worker rights. Their complaint is that all the people who fought the ultra-wealthy and the cops to the literal death died for nothing. It’s an oddly elitist, wrong-headed viewpoint, possibly even a sinister propaganda attack, but it’s there for exploitation by the right. Bernie could, of course, float a promise that “if you like your healthcare, you can keep it,” but Obama messed up that one forever when he didn’t deliver with the corporate-approved ACA.
The Resistance is about out of time to unify. With the Miller-led “Death Star of disinformation” getting into gear, with the sole aim of winning Trump a second term, all told, to me, it’s already game over for American democracy. I have no faith at all that things won’t be getting much, much worse for everyday people before they get better. Too many overfed pundits and influencers on cable, YouTube, Twitter and elsewhere have been making piles of money by doing nothing more than whining about Trump and beating the long-dead Mueller investigation horse-corpse instead of helping to organize massive resistance marches, much less a general strike, which is pretty much the only thing left that can save the country.
Unlike in the fictional universe of Star Wars, there is no alien cavalry coming, and no, we don’t “have each other” at the moment. Leftists will need to keep that in mind in the coming months and start preparing to focus on the things — however few — that unite them.
Eric W. Saeger is author of “Russian Nazi Troll Bots!: The Busy Person’s Guide to How Trump’s Trolls Won the Internet, What’s Ahead, and What You Can Do.”