Matt Niswonger

Now you will experience the true power of the dark side
Editor’s Note Alternate for Issue #94


One of my favorite scenes in the Star Wars movies is the epic battle between Yoda and the evil emperor at the end of Episode III. Finally discovering that Emperor Palpatine and the shadowy Sith Lord “Darth Sidious” are actually the same person, Yoda walks into the Emperor’s chambers in the galactic senate for the final showdown.

Despite being known for his wisdom, Yoda is also a master of lightsaber combat and he’s ready for a street fight as he enters Palpatine’s chambers: “I hear a new apprentice you have emperor. Or should I call you Darth Sidious…?” Here Yoda reveals that he finally knows the evil secret of the Sith: Palpatine is a double agent who has been working to destroy the Jedi all along.

Emperor Palpatine is shocked to see Yoda but he regains composure quickly. This is right after Order 66, and what comes next is a barrage of lightning from Darth Sidious’ fingertips so powerful that Yoda is knocked from his feet and slammed against the chamber wall. A valiant struggle ensues, but after the initial lightning blast, Yoda is shaken and never recovers.

This confrontation between the two most powerful figures in the Star Wars saga results in a crushing defeat for Yoda, the Jedi Order, the Republic, and the forces of good. Having failed to defeat the Emperor, Yoda barely escapes to the jungle planet Degobah and hides in exile. Recovering from his wounds he falls into a deep meditation.

What follows are dark days for the Jedi order but all hope is not lost: Yoda is guarding a precious secret. Anakin Skywalker has a daughter and she will bring balance to the force.

Never in the history of American politics has the Star Wars metaphor been more appropriate. Consider that in the larger context of history 2016 represented a chance to affirm the dignity of girls and women across the nation and throughout the world, finally bringing balance to the genders.

Instead a decisive minority of Americans came under the influence of the dark side of the Force and passed on the opportunity to help women forever. Steve Bannon, a powerful Sith Lord and now chief strategy advisor to the president-elect, helped emperor Trump harness the provocative language of race identity politics causing a ripple in the fabric of the Force. Using social media trickery, Bannon leveraged the power of Facebook to advance a shadowy agenda known as the Alt Right.

Large numbers of potential voters who were just adopting Facebook and less experienced in social media communication were most vulnerable. They clicked on links that were presented as real news only to be presented with shadowy insinuations about Hillary Clinton, Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, treasonous emails, climate change deniers and a steady barrage of theories about the evils of globalization and the victimization of white europeans in America.

“Your arrogance blinds you Hillary Clinton. Now you will experience the true power of the Alt Right.”

Like Yoda in the emperor’s chambers ready for a final showdown, Hillary and the Democrats underestimated the power of the Alt Right spreading like wildfire across the Internet. White Americans should not value the inherent strength and opportunities of diversity, they were told, rather they should see themselves as victims of other races. The Alt Right is fundamentally a philosophy of victimization with white Europeans at the center.

Steve Bannon, arguably the most influential voice in President-elect Trump’s inner circle, has admitted that he does not actually subscribe to many of the Alt Right’s ideologies. As a social media provocateur, Bannon sees the Alt Right as a useful tool for distracting and controlling a large Internet audience. Unlike a true conservative with heartfelt principles, Bannon is a social media manipulator with personal power as his only true agenda. Fans of Star Wars will recognize him as a Sith Lord in the classic sense.

With white European victimization philosophies gaining credibility on Facebook every day, these are indeed dark times for the Jedi. The Democrats have no choice but to retreat to Degobah and fall into a deep meditation. Luckily all hope is not lost. America has a daughter and in time she will bring balance to the force.

As I explained to my daughter Mia and her cousin Emily, somewhere across America a young girl saw the ad about Trump being a bully to women. Watching the debates, this girl saw the contest and listened to Trump dismiss Hillary as “nasty.”

Over time this girl will watch other men dismiss smart, talented women and bully them into submission to block them from achieving power. Strong with the force, this girl will think deeply on what she has seen and one morning she will wake up and decide to run for president. May the force be with you.

Welcome to issue #94. How do you see the election? Do you agree with my interpretation? Feel free to send me an email or comment directly here on the website.

— Matt Niswonger