Friday, May 4, is what is unofficially known as Star Wars Day. For those of you who (or whose parents) didn’t have a hard time finding a date in high school, it’s Star Wars Day because in the Star Wars series, “May the Force be with you” is a classic line. Get it? May the Force Fourth. Good news is that it’s also Star Wars Day on our very special #FlashbackFriday post. Gather ‘round, fellow nerds.
You might think that Jar Jar Binks ruined the franchise, but rest assured, politics beat him to it. The culprit: President Ronald Reagan’s March 1983 speech on defense spending, since dubbed his “Star Wars” speech.
“The budget request that is now before the Congress has been trimmed to the limits of safety. Further deep cuts cannot be made without seriously endangering the security of the Nation. The choice is up to the men and women you’ve elected to the Congress, and that means the choice is up to you,” Reagan said in the televised address.
Reagan was trying to justify a hefty boost to the Defense Department’s budget in order to protect against the threat of Soviet attack. Critics were having none of this partially space-focused program. The New York Times said the technology Reagan wanted was “decades away from reality.” He basically wanted everything short of X-Wing fighters and lightsabers. He also wanted $30 billion more for defense in the 1984 budget.
Likewise, President Donald Trump is currently looking to the stars. Almost seeming to pull from the title of one of the most recent Star Wars iterations (or a 1984 video game), Trump has repeatedly floated the idea of a “Space Force.” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani also referred to FBI agents who raided Michael Cohen’s office as “stormtroopers.” Although, it’s entirely possible Giuliani had the even more evil historical version of stormtroopers in mind.
Like Reagan, Trump has asked for a healthy bump in defense spending, although it’s not specifically for “Space Force.” Surely we are close to exhausting the list of 1980s reboots, right?
Reagan’s Star Wars speech wasn’t his first foray into a galaxy far, far away. A few weeks prior, he had delivered his “evil empire” speech, in which he described the Soviets in Vader-esque terms.
At the time Reagan was delivering these speeches, America was awaiting the third film in the original Star Wars trilogy. “Return of the Jedi” was released in May that year. In between developments on current US-Russia relations, Star Wars fans today await the finale of the current trilogy. Time is a flat circle.
Things ended up going well for both America and the Rebel Alliance back in the 1980s. May the Force be with us this time around.