American politics has a serious Epic Fantasy/Sci-Fi trope problem. But let's go to the beginning as Vizzini would say.
I love myth. It's fun to think about, and fun to work with as a storyteller. It's fascinating to examine the various forms it takes. It's also important to understand what it's really saying. Why? Because myth is extremely powerful. Storytelling also a big part of how human beings learn to be human beings. That's why, I feel, it's extremely important to examine what our myths are teaching us. What are they really saying? Where do they come from? A source can be just as telling as the story itself. So, let's talk about The One--the idea that there's this one perfect being or leader or savior or whatever. We're all familiar with it. In Fairy Stories, it's the Prince who saves the Princess in the tower. In Fantasy, it's existed since JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. That is, from the start.
In Sci-Fi, we have the Kwisatz Haderach thanks to Frank Herbert's Dune, but archetype of The One existed long before that. It's present in religion. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Paganism all have their savior stories. On the positive side, the savior myth teaches us how to be more self-sacrificing, to think of others, to take on a leadership role, to act upon the evils of the world. On the negative side, The One is used by the powerful to stifle uprisings, and to keep the poor in their place. It's used to teach the lowly that they cannot save themselves. They don't have the power. "Wait," it says, "Be good. Do as you're told. Work hard. Suffer. And maybe one day there will be a savior to take you away from all this."
So, believe me when I say American politics has a serious Epic Fantasy/Sci-Fi trope problem, I mean it. When Obama was running the first time the hope pinned on him was tremendous. It was a relief, after the horrible, hopeless, fearful slog through the W years. But Obama didn't save us instantly and there was a backlash. The GOP got power again and trashed the place. Obama got back in office which was good. However, Liberals had a hell of a time pulling out of the tailspin. And now I'm watching the Bernie crowd. It sounds like the exact same rhetoric. He's THE ONE. He'll save us! Blah. Blah.
Guess what? Bernie is not the Messiah. Our problems will not go away overnight. They didn't with *eight YEARS* of Obama. (I love Obama. Don't get me wrong.) They won't with the next Dem in office. It took us 40+ years to get here. It'll take at least half that to step it back--*if we're vigilant and lucky.* This shit takes hard work, and I'm for whichever Dem candidate is nominated. Am I thrilled a Socialist has gotten this far? Hells to the yes. It's about time. Still, stop looking for the magical "ONE" who will solve it all with a magic sword. Not only is it lazy thinking, he's a myth. "The ONE" is considered a trite trope in SF lit circles--why the hell isn't it so in politics? The only way we'll be able to do all that work is if we stop telling ourselves the big stupid lie.
We have to save ourselves.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.