I have struggled recently, and in the past, with my political identity. I have been accused, yes accused, like a criminal, of being a liberal. The term “lib-tard” has been bandied about when referring to my public diatribes; earned in some instances but totally unfair in most. I am usually left scratching my head when others just can’t see where my heart is, or how I got there. To be fair, I also wonder how some strict conservative folks seem to revel in their staunch disapproval of all things liberal. So I began to really consider their polar opposition. I discovered many valid truths in their positions but still failed to understand some very basic principles I tend to consider American, Judeo/Christian values, that some conservatives hype but, in the end, tend to ignore. (hence Donald Trump)
I still don’t understand. (I have theories, for another time)
So, I go back and evaluate my own positions on really important matters like immigration, foreign policy, climate change, civil rights, Democracy (and, yes, Space Exploration). I wonder, in earnest, how these basics subjects are in any way NOT universal but have become, in most unpleasant terms, “The Liberal Agenda.”
Why aren’t the notions of Peace, Environmental Protection, Civil Rights, Equal Pay for Equal Work, etc. THE bedrock of American values? It is what we advertise to the rest of the world. It is what we DEMAND of cultures who do NOT adhere to these values (or we sanction them economically). But domestically these subjects have lead us to near Civil War!
And this is why I am labeled a Liberal.
How did I get here? The easy answer is Star Trek.
Gene Roddenberry had a dream of a future that was pretty darn liberal. Even through the veil of militaristic space ships and command structure, the dominating drive of The Federation of Planets was one of peace and equality. This was a future that was possible. Not A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away. Star Wars made for good space adventures and retelling of classic myths, but isn’t relevant to audiences in a deeper way. (yes, I am a fan, get your knickers unbunched)
Good science fiction places a mirror before our eyes and reflects our own humanity cleverly disguised as stories about aliens, monsters, and robots. So, as allegory, Star Trek presented audiences with THEMSELVES. It’s a clever trick. And in the 1960’s it was highly controversial. On a deep space exploration star ship, the crew was so diverse it was considered laughable by some and lauded as highly idealistic and hoped-for by most. It still is.
Week after week, a strong, white, heterosexual male, led a crew of highly skilled specialists into unknown situations brimming with danger and by the end of the episode entire planets with ancient cultures were profoundly changed by the influence of “lib-tard space explorers.” Sometimes an enemy would be made but even they were eventually swayed by the obviously superior ideologies of The Federation. This is the best part of the Star Trek Philosophy; the ideals of the Federation were offered to ALL who were interested in joining but there were rules. Every planet or system that petitioned for membership had to uphold certain values of peace, justice, and civil rights UNIVERSALLY to all its citizens or they would be denied membership. No one was forced to join and none were directly influenced by coercion or sabotage. This was the sticky part that the crew of the Enterprise was faced with frequently. When a group of people were directly opposed to the ideals of the Federation, no one was allowed to judge or condemn that society for its choices. The people of these worlds had to make the decision for themselves to change and join the Federation. No exceptions. They were to lead by example only. Yes, this was heavy handed and clearly biased towards American liberal values, but after only 3 seasons, left an indelible imprint on the American culture that it has endured for 50 years.
The late 80’s, during the rise of the neo-con Reagan era, Star Trek returned with the same set of morals and high culture to bring diversity and democracy to the galaxy once again. This time a strong willed but highly sensitive male captain (less virile but none the less effective) brought his equally diverse and morally focused crew to more remote areas of the galaxy. We were once again reminded of our own need to feel integrated with our growing and more diverse population. The world had changed dramatically since the 60’s but seemed to be slipping into a self-centered and paranoid culture. Minority growth in America pushed cultural borders. Social morals were being tested with the rise of the media celebrity and Aids. Star Trek faced these complex issues head on proving once again that seeking acceptance of other ideas and lifestyles was of paramount importance to human growth and prosperity.
These were strong emotional ideas. Fans all over the world continued to embrace the themes of unity and rights of “the other” that Star Trek boldly presented.
These were the values I chose to embrace. I yearned for a future that Star Trek promised; America Promised. We uphold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. How could it be any other way?
So, I am proud to be a card carrying member of the Geek Federation and if that makes me a liberal then so be it. I believe in these ideals and will work to make them universal but never by force only by living by the morals and ethics set forth by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States as mirrored by the world of Star Trek. And as long as the Flag represents these ideals, I will stand in its honor, but when it does NOT, I too will fight to restore the promise of the Stars and Stripes to everyone who lives in its shadow. (Even if it means bowing my head or turning my back in shame.)
Live Long and Prosper