How ABC’s “LOST” and modern politics explain each other

The final season of ABC’s hit drama “Lost” has finally begun to answer six years worth of questions for millions of loyal viewers. And in doing so, has illuminated the numerous parallels between the island world of “Lost” and the modern political scene.

Why the Island is like DC

  1. Your past doesn’t matter. Just like those who are stranded on the island can start anew, it seems a politicians record can also be completely wiped out once elected. In both cases, the playing field is leveled and the only advantage is how long you’ve been around because you know the place better.
  2. There’s a job to do. At this point in the series, the survivors of Oceanic 815 know that there’s a job to do, a further fate and purpose behind their presence on the island. They become active in whatever way they can to find out what it is. In Washington DC, the politicians know they have job to do. The difference is that the survivors are allowed to be unsure of what their job is throughout the series, while politicians prefer to think too much about how they’re going to keep the job they have to do and not enough about what it will take to actually get anything done.
  3. Weird shit goes down. In both the island and DC, there are only a handful of “normal” human interactions. All actions are heightened to the extreme, and every decision becomes the most important decision ever made. The stress levels are palpable in both locations, and people are ready to be impulsive to achieve whatever it is they think is best. Both area’s inhabitants are willing to manipulate, lie, or do whatever it takes to forward their agenda.
  4. Keeps the crazy confined to one place. Much like the example during Lost of the wine bottle being the island keeping the wine inside confined, Washington DC allows Americans to know the craziest and most manipulative, and ideologically driven people are confined to one small area.

Why the Man in Black is like Republican Leadership

  1. Don’t come up with original ideas. The Man in Black can only take on the form of people who have died. The Republican Leadership only say “no” to ideas suggested, rather than coming up with their own.
  2. Can manifest in different forms. The Man in Black can manifest himself as the smoke monster, and can also take on the forms of people who have died on the island. The Republican Leadership can use Fox News pundits and talking heads to tell people what the “want” to hear, so they can get more support behind their cause.
  3. Everything is black and white. For the Man in Black, he considers killing people who make the wrong “choice” justified because he gave them a “choice” (which was presumably to join his group and follow his leadership unquestioningly) or to die. For Republican Leadership, the mantra of either “you’re with us or you’re against us” has been one they’ve followed for years. It seems the choice for Republicans is either that  you will support their ideals and ideas unquestioningly, or that you’re an idiot with nothing to offer this country and, therefore, should move to another.
  4. Feed and prey on fear. We know the Man in Black manipulates people at their most vulnerable and weakest points in order to make it seem like he’s empathetic. In actuality, he wants them to trust and believe him and go along willingly to do whatever necessary evils it make take to get what he wants. And, he makes his followers believe that what he wants is in their best interest, too. So, too, does Republican Leadership use outlandish and doomsday vocabulary in order to make people believe they have the best interest in the country in mind. The passage of a moderate healthcare bill is suddenly “Armageddon”, and a call for all those who fear change to be on edge and alert and ready for orders from the Leadership as to what they can do to regain power and control.
  5. Recruit followers. The Man in Black is “recruiting” followers on his side for some sort of epic battle to be free of the island. A battle he, presumably, needs a strong band of followers to win. The Republican Leadership is “recruiting” followers by drumming up grassroots support throughout the country for some sort of epic ideological battle. With any luck, it is simply a battle to the polls in November 2010, which they need a strong group of followers to win. Worst case scenario, it’s a battle that will manifest itself in some other terrifying way.
  6. As long as someone else has power, they’re unhappy. The Man in Black has said that he will keep killing Jacob replacements in order to keep unilateral control of his power. As long as there is a Jacob replacement on the island, his unilateral power is threatened. The Republican Leadership is also perpetually dissatisfied with all forms of power the President has as long as the President is a Democrat. And as long as they do not have unilateral control of the three branches of government, they fight everything that is proposed tooth and nail to prevent reforms. As long as there is some Democratic leadership, their unilateral control and power is threatened. And that, like the Man in Black, makes them unhappy.
  7. Get others to do their dirty work. The Man in Black can’t technically kill Jacob, so he manipulates others (finally-successfully- Ben Linus) to do it for him. Everyone on the island becomes pawns in a larger power struggle between Jacob and the Man in Black. Republican Leadership can’t technically harm people or specifically ask people to harm them. But, they can manipulate language to make ideological differences seem like the end of the world if those who believe differently are not snuffed out. Or, they can create maps with rifle-scoplelike cross hairs targeting Democrats. Or simply give out addresses to Democratic representatives homes and pretend that it’s not their fault if a gas line is broken days later.

While it’d be logical, then, to say that Jacob would be President Obama and the Democratic leadership, I think that’d be giving the Dems too much credit. As much as I support and like some Democratic policies, I like Jacob a whole lot more. And, for some strange reason, I am much more concerned about what happens to the Island than I am what happens in Washington. But, there are some similarities worth pointing out.

Why Jacob is like the Democratic Leadership

  1. Wants people to decide on their own. Jacob has taken the much more passive and hands-off approach that people can come to their own conclusions about the nature of their own humanity if he simply provides them with the opportunities to test it. He is not directly involved in forcing people to believe one thing or another, and allows them to make the decisions themselves. So, too, does Democratic Leadership take a more passive approach to recruiting followers. Rather than speaking in “fire and brimstone” absolutist talk, it embraces diversity, flexibility, and gray areas.
  2. Has a go-between. Just like Jacob has Richard to be his right hand man, President Obama has Nancy Pelosi to make sure his policies have the legwork to become reality. Jacob’s role exceeds beyond becoming involved in the nitty gritty details of every day Island life and he trusts Richard to work on the ground for him. Obama, too, has plenty of other roles as President than to spend every day in Congress garnering support for policies. So he trusts Pelosi to do it for him.
  3. If need be, will kick ass. In a surprising scene this season, Jacob kicked Richard’s ass when Richard came along to kill him. Rather than passively saying “Know you have a choice” like he did previously (and unsuccessfully) with Ben Linus, he punched, kicked, and beat Richard until he had let go of his ambition to kill him. For Obama- if need be- he can send his bulldog Rahm Emanuel to remedy a threatening or challenging situation. And rest assured that Emanuel is very likely to (metaphorically…we hope) punch, kick, or beat back those who stand in the way of progressive policies.
  4. Can groom but not guarantee his replacement. Just the candidates replace Jacob are handpicked by Jacob, the candidates to replace the President are often handpicked as well. Both leaders can see the potential in a person and similarities in ideologies. But they cannot make the person replace them. The person has to want it bad enough to make that leap of faith themselves.

So, we have to continue to watch the last episodes of “LOST” to see if any light can be shed upon how our modern political battles will turn out. At least in the short run.

In conclusion, vote Fox/Reyes in 2016.

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3 thoughts on “How ABC’s “LOST” and modern politics explain each other

  1. You’re far too lenient on Jacob. He touches people, altering the paths of their lives, and forces them to come to the island for the sake of “the greater good.” Likewise, he only lets them make their own choices insofar as it aids his ends.

    1. That’s fair. Many of these observations are based on the stereotypes of the people more than the details, but that’s still a valid point. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Re: “There’s a job to do”–I think they’re more similar than you say. Both the islanders and the politicians like to pretend they know what the job they have to do is, but in reality have no fucking clue what they’re doing.

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