Updated August 29, 2021 - 10:57 am
Luke Skywalker is not the first person from the movies that I picture when I think of Adam Laxalt. But the former attorney general and would-be U.S. senator certainly seems to think of himself that way.
In his announcement video, Laxalt announced his family has watched all nine of the “Star Wars” films — twice! And although the events happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Laxalt draws comparisons to modern America.
In his telling, the “radical left, rich elites, woke corporations, academia, Hollywood and the media” are “taking over America. That’s your Empire right there.” Laxalt added: “This won’t be an easy battle. We’re David, they’re Goliath. We’re the Rebels, they’re the Empire.”
Like Laxalt’s family, I have spent time watching the “Star Wars” films (there’s actually 11), not to mention “Clone Wars,” “Rebels,” “Bad Batch” and even “Resistance.” I think I know a thing or two about them. And I have to take issue with Laxalt’s analogy.
First, while there are plenty of villains on woke Twitter who’d like to impose an authoritarian cancellation on those who don’t meet their ever-evolving standard of progressive thought, comparisons to the Empire are facile.
The Empire was a military occupation of nearly an entire galaxy (the Outer Rim and the Unknown Regions remained relatively free of Imperial domination). They actually shot people who wouldn’t bow to them; the most the keyboard warriors of Twitter can do is hurl invective. That doesn’t sting like a blaster.
Second, recall how the Empire came about: A single, powerful Sith Lord got elected to the Galactic Senate, magnified a regional trade dispute into an all-out war, accumulated emergency powers, built an army of clones and a huge star fleet and became supreme ruler. When the Emperor came to see the Senate as an impediment, he dissolved it, trusting that fear would keep the local systems in line.
Ask yourself: Does that sound like poor Joe Biden? He can barely get a bill passed in the U.S. Senate, and he won’t even endorse dissolving the filibuster. And I believe it was former President Donald Trump, not Biden, who wanted to send soldiers to put down rebellious protests in American cities.
I’m not saying Trump is akin to Emperor Palpatine. After all, Palpatine was an effective ruler, strong in the Dark Side of the Force. He didn’t need to issue feckless rants on Twitter, and when he spoke, it actually made sense.
Third, the Empire was an authoritarian hierarchy, where orders had to be obeyed without question and disloyalty was punished by death. What’s the price of disloyalty to Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Sneering tweets from smug liberals? There’s no Dark Lord waiting to use the Force to choke moderates such as Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema when they withhold their votes for the liberal agenda.
But what happens when a Republican crosses would-be Emperor Trump? The political equivalent of being fed to a sarlacc.
It’s worth considering that Black Lives Matter protesters (who appear on screen right after Laxalt voices the words “it seems like the wrong side is winning”) have taken to the streets because that’s the only way their message can be heard. Why, it’s almost as if they’re rebelling against an oppressive order.
(And don’t accuse me of condoning violence or property damage during protests; I think violent vandals should go to jail. But to extend the Laxaltian analogy, the Rebels did blow up the Death Star — twice! — which was a pretty violent act of vandalism.)
Laxalt is right about one thing: His will not be an easy battle. Not because Chuck Schumer is a Sith Lord, or Catherine Cortez Masto wields a double-bladed lightsaber. It’s the numbers: There are more than 82,000 active registered Democrats than there are Republicans in Nevada. Laxalt won his single term in office by a margin of just 4,750 votes (out of more than 544,000 cast statewide).
By contrast, Cortez Masto won her elections to the attorney general’s office in 2006 and 2010 by more than 130,000 and 120,000 votes respectively, the highest win margin of any statewide official in those years. And she won election to her Senate seat in 2016 by nearly 27,000 votes statewide. (That margin came exclusively in the south; she lost all counties but Clark.)
It remains to be seen whether the Force will be with young Laxalt in 2022, but one thing is clear right now: He’s not a Jedi yet.