Something occurred to me the other day, as I was trying to wash the bad residue of the day’s national news cycle from my psyche by going back to the stuff I loved as a kid…

George Lucas (or maybe it was Alan Dean Foster) predicted the rise of Donald Trump.

Way back in December of 1976, roughly six months before the movie actually debuted in theaters, Ballantine/Del Rey Books released the novelization of the film Star Wars. The book carried the byline of the film’s writer-director, George Lucas, although it was ghostwritten by popular science fiction author Alan Dean Foster.

As is so often the case, the book differs somewhat from the film in some respects. For a lot of fans who read the book only after they saw the movie, some of those differences proved quite jarring - even though, by and large, they were for the most part trivial (Luke Skywalker's designation as Blue Five rather than Red Five during the Battle of Yavin, for example).

One of the things I found most interesting about the novelization at the time was the fact that it opens with a prologue that is presented in the form of am excerpt from history book (“From the First Saga Journal of the Whills”) and sets up the story by briefly recapping the rise of Emperor Palpatine… in essence a Reader’s Digest version of the story later told in the prequel films (as well as the “Clovis” story arc in the final season of The Clone Wars television spinoff.)

It was that original prologue, as much as anything, that made 13-year-old bookworm me already long for further adventures set in that galaxy when I read the book that December, even before seeing the movie. It also provided a better understanding for so much of what I saw when the movie finally came out that following spring, but that’s a topic for another time.

It has only been in retrospect - with the insight that (hopefully) comes with maturity and a sense of history honed by both a lifelong interest in history and my experience as a professional journalist - that I have come to realize what incredible prognostication powers the Lucas-Foster team demonstrated more than 40 years ago. Like so many other science fiction writers before them, they gave us a harrowing glimpse of what was to come…

Presented for your consideration: Exhibit A, the opening paragraphs of the Prologue of Star Wars:


Another galaxy, another time.

The Old Republic was the Republic of legend, greater than distance or time. No need to note where it was or whence it came, only to know that… it was the Republic.

Once, under the wise rule of the Senate and the protection of the Jedi Knights, the Republic throve and grew. But as often happens when wealth and power pass beyond the admirable and attain the awesome, there appear those evil ones who have greed to match.

So it was with the Republic at its height. Like the greatest of trees, able to withstand any external attack, the Republic rotted from within though the danger was not visible from outside.

Aided and abetted by restless, power-hungry individuals within the government, and the massive organs of commerce, the ambitious Senator Palpatine caused himself to be elected President of the Republic. He promised to reunite the disaffected among the people and to restore the remembered glory of the Republic.

Once secure in office he declared himself Emperor, shutting himself away from the populace. Soon he was controlled by the very assistants and boot-lickers he had appointed to high office, and the cries of the people for justice did not reach his ears.

Having exterminated through treachery and deception the Jedi Knights, guardians of justice in the galaxy, the Imperial governors and bureaucrats prepared to institute a reign of terror among the disheartened worlds of the galaxy. Many used the imperial forces and the name of the increasingly isolated Emperor to further their own personal ambitions…

Now go back and re-read those paragraphs, substituting the name “Trump” for “Palpatine” and “the First Amendment” for “the Jedi Knights,” and what you have is a legitimate piece of prophesy - one every bit as chilling as anything H.G. Wells or George Orwell gave us.

Of course, there was in that prophesy a sense of hope in the form of the final two paragraphs: 

But a small number of systems rebelled at these new outrages. Declaring themselves opposed to the New Order they began the great battle to restore the Old Republic.

From the beginning they were vastly outnumbered by the systems held in thrall by the Emperor. In those first dark days it seemed certain the bright flame of resistance would be extinguished before it could cast the light of new truth across a galaxy of oppressed and beaten peoples…

Which, if we carry the analogy forward, means that people like me - those of us who still understand that the First Amendment is First for a reason, and who still share a dream one day actually achieving the kind of America that the forefathers envisioned and Lincoln fought to preserve and Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed about, and detest what the current administration is doing in terms of tearing away at that dream - freedom fighters. 

A real-life Rebel Alliance, if you will. 

And so, my fellow journalists: May The First Be With You.