Friday, November 18, 2016

The Hottest Take: Sisko Would Have Voted Trump

Come at me, nerds, I’m going another round with In the Pale Moonlight.

The events of In the Pale Moonlight clearly show Ben Sisko, Starfleet Captain and Emissary of the Prophets would have voted Trump. Why?

Because Garak is Trump. Likeable, selfish, and ruthless. Oh, no Trump is a selfish asshole, but he’s got mass appeal and a convenient handle on truth that make him likeable. “Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” and there’s no bigger flim-flam artist around than DJT. The only noticeable difference between the two is that Garak has a certain level of style and class; mere pretenses that the president-elect lacks.

Indeed, even Garak’s “cultured” love of literature and fashion are performance for Julian. Garak loves Cardassian literature because it’s Cardassian first and literature second. Garak is a rabid nationalist and clings closely to Cardassian institutions because they benefit him. Hell, even as unprivileged he was a bastard child, he was still born into privilege. Enabin Train isn’t in the habit of raising the children of housekeepers from birth to be spies. Just his. Think of it as a small loan of million dollars and an interest payment of claustrophobia.

And by the time ItPM rolls around Captain Sisko knows these things. He knows Garak can’t be trusted. He knows Garak is only in it for Garak. He knows Garak is a murderer!  But whether it’s a shooting in San Bernadino, the sacking of Betazed, ISIS, or The Dominion, The Emissary is shook enough to sign on with anything and he quiets the voice in the back of his head with impossible promises that he can control this monster.

When he can’t quiet it, what does he do? He turns to Starfleet Command, “Is this legal?” “Um, of course it is,” they reply. Well, it must be okay then. If it’s legal, it can’t be wrong, right? And Sisko knew--he knew--it wasn’t right that’s why he asked. Garak and Trump are pragmatists of the highest order and because Sisko’s ethics were nothing more than slogans and empty words on his lips, they revealed the hollowness of those words to him and he rejected them for the concreteness of action that would make him safe. In the end, Sisko was left with an uneasiness in his stomach over what he’d done, and if his principles had connected with that core, he would have never signed off on it in the first place.

Whether it’s Grathon Tolar or Steven Bannon, this filthy work can’t be done without filthy people. I don’t mean to try to equate violent sexual predators and criminals with the Trump administration. I don’t believe anyone needs to make an effort to do that. But when Sisko is told, “I need this bag of shit,” he gets out his good pen and signs.

And he doesn’t realize! Not until someone gets stabbed or a pussy gets grabbed and there’s this recoil. But Sisko’s still scared right? A little raucous behavior doesn’t invalidate the need to let this guy work. I mean, how many pussies gotta get messed up before it gets in the way of an existential threat? Gotta build that wall and have Romulus pay for it. Gotta keep Jem’Hadar from coming into The Federation until we know more about what’s going on.

The thing that really gets me is that at the end, when it’s over, the dead bodies are counted and Sisko’s lost nothing, and has the audacity to be sad about it! But not sad enough to come forward or to claim responsibility--even to himself.

He rationalizes that he can live with it, and he can because his dead are unrepentant, impolite senators, and faceless bodyguards. Maybe Sisko isn’t a Trump voter, because they are going to have a lot more innocent blood on their hands and they will still not get what they want.


SkilTao said...

I can buy it. The analogy breaks down a bit, though, in that DS9 actually has an existential threat which Sisko wants addressed, Garak's claims actually address it, and Sisko can actually trust Garak to follow through and to do so competently.

VanVelding said...

True. Absolutely true. ItPM benefits greatly from television's lack of ambiguity.

Though I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that in the view of many of his supporters, the existential threat to the US is manifest and his qualifications *throws up in my mouth a little* are such that they have no doubt he can magically fix it.

SkilTao said...

That's fair. I was thinking of supporters who're more like "chaos and failure is crap, but at least it'd be different crap than we have now," but you're right, the He Can Actually Fix This supporters probably do exist, and it's Sisko's subjective perception that's in question.

VanVelding said...

True, the "burn it down" crowd is his largest constituency. Barely ahead of, "burn it down just enough to bring back racism."