Our Kobayashi Maru: Romney Versus Obama
April 30, 2012
By J.J. Jackson
Five months ago, if you asked any conservative in America what they thought about Mitt Romney as the potential GOP candidate for President of the United States what were they saying? Seventy five to eight percent were saying things similar to: Mitt Romney is no good and he is a liberal who will be ruinous for the country if elected. And you know what? They were right. This proves the old adage that the first response is usually the correct one. But when given time to think and rationalize people tend to make the wrong decisions.
Today, as both good and not so good alternatives to Mitt Romney have fallen like flies in the face of Romney’s inevitability, conservatives are left with little else in the way of choices and you hear a different tune. Oh, they still are not praising Mitt Romney. Their new found “support” of the man revolves around the hollow cry that he is not as bad as Obama and how we must unite behind Romney to defeat the current President in November. Wow. What a campaign slogan! Vote Romney! He’s not as big a schmuck as the guy we currently have! That is one heck of a way to get people to the voting booth if you ask me. Yes, the sarcasm on my part is fully intended.
This approach, sadly, is one that is far too often employed by conservatives. Defeated by the GOP establishment, after not putting up much of a fight, they bow their heads and fall in line. Conservatives entangle themselves in the real world equivalent of the Kobayashi Maru scenario.
The Kobayashi Maru, as any fan of Star Trek knows, is a purposefully designed impossible scenario administered to cadets in Starfleet Academy’s command program. For the uninitiated, the scenario involves a civilian starship, the Kobayashi Maru, which has become stranded in the Klingon Neutral Zone and which will be destroyed by the Klingons for the transgression. The scenario has only two options programmed into it. First, the cadet could opt to rescue the Kobayashi Maru and her crew. In doing so however, no matter how brilliant the strategy, he or she winds up violating the Organian Peace Treaty and instigating war with the Klingon Empire. The Klingons, rigid militaristic xenophobes, are unreasonable and are looking for any reason to attack the Federation and will, no matter what. The resulting war will kill millions if this option is taken. The only other option presented in the scenario is to do nothing. In doing nothing the cadet dooms the starship and its innocent crew to death. There is no option for negations that result in the ship being allowed to be rescued and war to be averted. There is no option that allows the cadet the come up with some daring strategy that will be successful in both saving the crew and averting war. Thus, the no-win scenario is established. It is inflexible. The purpose of the exercise is to see which of the two evils, the death of the ship’s crew or the death of millions in an all-out war with the Klingon’s, the cadet will pick and even if they can pick.
Captain James Tiberius Kirk however becomes infamous for beating the scenario, rescuing the crew of the Kobayashi Maru and averting all-out war with the Klingons. Exactly how the scenario is defeated has gone through various iterations. Classically, the accepted story is that Captain Kirk reprograms the simulation to allow him to win. In the 1989 novel, The Kobayashi Maru, the reprogramming involves making the Klingon’s afraid of “The Captain Kirk”. His rationalization was that at such a time as he was a starship captain and that the encounter was to occur, Kirk expected that he would have a reputation that would make this alternate approach successful; a variable that the original programming could not account for. This whole incident led to the common refrain that Kirk “cheated” to win. That is not accurate however. He simply refused to accept the options he was given which would not allow for anything other than death on some scale to occur. The program did not allow for an infinite number of all too real possibilities, even if they were farfetched by the standards of some.
The GOP establishment has given us our own Kobayashi Maru with Mitt Romney running against President Obama. In their version you either vote for Mitt Romney, the equivalent of not entering the Neutral Zone and letting the Kobayashi Maru and her crew be destroyed (i.e. sacrificing conservative principles), or you vote for President Obama, the equivalent of entering the Neutral Zone and starting an all-out war where millions will die (i.e. sacrificing America). For them there is no other option. You either vote for the ultra-liberal Obama or the less liberal, maybe even moderate, but certainly not conservative, Mitt Romney.
Are there other options though? Well, yes. But they are not currently programmed into the given scenario. And, honestly, they may not work either to avert the pending disaster. Unlike Kirk, we are not dealing with an actual computer program but real life. Real life is much more complicated and less easy to control.
Conservatives could certainly opt to attempt to reprogram the scenario the GOP has given us. We could, and I know it sounds radical but bear with me, actually choose a candidate other than Romney or Obama and then actually vote for them. Of course I know the cries that go out at this suggest all too well. Voting “third party”? What are you? Insane? That would certainly lead to another four years of President Obama! Yeah, it might. I will stipulate that. But you must also stipulate that it might not.
Right now, the two options we have leave us with a liberal in the White House and, like the cadet taking The Kobayashi Maru, blood on our hands regardless of which option we pick. So why not take a chance? Sure, the GOP loyalists and some sheep that choose to follow them tell us that we must support Romney to prevent the worse option of a second term of President Obama from happening. They want us to sacrifice conservatism to prevent what is a worse scenario. But what if all conservatives, some self-professed forty to sixty percent of the population, refuse to go along? What if they find another candidate who is actually conservative and leave the moderates of the GOP left with the option of the conservative candidate or Barack Obama? Call me crazy if you like because it makes you feel better about rushing to adopt Mitt Romney as the answer to Barack Obama. But, honestly, I prefer to think of myself as not crazy. Rather, call me Captain Kirk.
Maybe the moderates who are not hard-core liberals side with the hard-core left and maybe they do not. Maybe, just maybe, the moderates come along for the ride because Obama is just too radical and we actually have a chance at saving everyone. I admit, they may not. We may wind up with a Clinton-era three way where the most liberal candidate wins by plurality. But so what? Has anything really changed? There is still blood on our hands. So why not at least draw that blood fighting?
Yeah, I know, it is just a pipedream. Most conservatives have proven that they are not that principled when push comes to shove and will gladly parade around with blood on their hands as long as they can proclaim that it was not as much blood as if they had accepted the other option that was given. But the reality is that in three months into the Romney Administration, maybe a year or two if we are lucky, those conservatives who fell in line will be staring at their hands in horror screaming, “What have we done!” There will still be big government. There will still be rampant waste. There will still be widespread fraud. There will still be debt as far as our great grandchildren can see. And the Constitution will still lie in tatters upon the floor. Oh, sure, he might roll back some or even most of the policies of President Obama. But be honest. What we had before Obama was not all that good either.