When you’re running for President, you tend to focus on things that people are most concerned about: taxes, international diplomacy, civil rights, that sort of thing. One thing that doesn’t come up very much in Presidential campaigns is Star Trek, and yet Republican candidate Ted Cruz decided he would try and do his level best to compare characters from the popular sci-fi franchise with modern political ideals.
In a new interview, Cruz noted that he believes “it is quite likely that Kirk is a Republican and Picard is a Democrat,” and went on to declare that Star Trek: The Next Generation doesn’t offer complete characters, at least when it comes to Captain Jean-Luc Picard and First Officer William Riker.
“If you look at Star Trek: The Next Generation, it basically split James T. Kirk into two people. Picard was Kirk’s rational side, and William Riker was his passionate side. I prefer a complete captain. To be effective, you need both heart and mind.”
Look, I don’t want to tell anyone how to consume pop culture, but let me tell Ted Cruz how to consume pop culture for a second: Kirk actually did have another character by his side in the original series who was the “rational side” of the show: He’s called Spock, a character whose entire moral code is built on logic. And further, the “heart” was embodied by Bones. What Kirk did was synthesize the two into action. Id, superego and ego. So maybe find another argument for which show you like better.
Cruz then went on to explain why he prefers the original series to The Next Generation by framing the former show as a “grittier,” more “working class” version of the franchise.
“The original Star Trek was grittier,” Cruz suggests. “Kirk is working class; Picard is an aristocrat. Kirk is a passionate fighter for justice; Picard is a cerebral philosopher. The original Star Trek pressed for racial equality, which was one of its best characteristics, but it did so without sermonizing.”
Aha! We’ve arrived at the nexus of Cruz’s argument. In his mind, “sermonizing” about things like “racial equality” isn’t the best way to tell a story, but the whole of Star Trek * is about social progression, about the idea that you accept everyone, you don’t try to alter their culture, and you let them be who they are. It’s why someone like Worf is allowed to be a major officer on the Enterprise bridge. It’s why Spock is allowed to pursue a Starfleet career despite the pressure to be a Vulcan scientist. It’s why every planet the Enterprise crew encounters isn’t automatically assimilated into a world of human ideals, even when said planet offers a wildly different way of living life. *Star Trek is in many ways the opposite of what Cruz, who dismissed climate change simply because he doesn’t think he can argue against it (he can’t because, you know, it’s real), believes. Look, we could go on and on here, but the bottom line is: don’t elect a guy who doesn’t get Kirk and Picard. And who doesn’t understand that the United Federation of Planets — in which there is no money, no hunger, no want; where resources are distributed evenly — is basically a socialist state. Which would make both Kirk and Picard card-carrying socialists.
Ted Cruz: Wrong on Star Trek, Wrong for the White House.