The New Republic's Democracy In Andor Episode 9 Echoes Our Real World Political Shortcomings

The political climate on Coruscant is growing even more antagonistic towards Galactic Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in "Nobody's Listening!," the ninth episode of "Andor." The hostility she faces on the floor of the Senate is growing more extreme as more and more of her colleagues get behind the new draconian laws of Emperor Palpatine. The fierce transition that the "Star Wars" galaxy is experiencing during this time frame (roughly five years before the battle of Yavin) mirrors our own government's slide towards authoritarianism and our own Senate's inability to come together on the issues. 

There has been a small minority of fans who don't think "Andor" feels like "Star Wars" all the time, but at its core, the political themes are exactly in line with what George Lucas was originally exploring in a galaxy far, far away. 

Lucas originally saw his coming-of-age classic "American Graffiti" as a tale of pre-war innocence. When he was attached to direct "Apocalypse Now," which was going to be his war film, he envisioned "Star Wars" as a post-commentary on the Vietnam War. Studying the real-life transitions of democracies that turned into dictatorships, Lucas looked at how the Roman Senate gave governmental control to Caesar's nephew right after they murdered him, and how France overthrew the monarchy only to give control to Napoleon. Episode 9 of "Andor" continues the original vision Lucas had and expands upon the themes of political upheaval shown in the prequels. 

Seeing how some members of the U.S. Senate have at times blindly followed a would-be dictator, the unacceptable behavior of the Galactic Senate shouting jeers and heckles at Mon Mothma hits a little close to home in one crucial scene in "Nobody's Listening!"

An audience of one

At the beginning of the episode, Cassian tries to make Kino Loy (Andy Serkis) realize that the machinations of the Empire don't care about them and don't see them as a threat. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. The pomposity and arrogance of the Empire is a weapon that Cassian, in the past, has kept to himself. To escape from the prison moon Narkina 5, he has to share that knowledge to incite a riot. When the episode cuts over to Mon Mothma addressing the Galactic Senate, it's obvious that they too are blinded by their own power and their own sense of security. 

The senator from Chandrila is simply showing opposition to the Emperor's new public safety legislation, namely the Public Order Resentencing Directive, the same order that got Cassian unfairly thrown in jail. Shouts of "Long live the Empire!" echo through the chamber, sounding a lot like the moment during former President Obama's health care speech when GOP Representative Joe Wilson shouted out "You lie!" in a sudden outburst. Back then in 2009, both parties condemned the heckling and Wilson apologized. Nowadays, it seems unlikely that both sides would come together after such a divisive moment. 

Judging by the actions of the New Republic representatives on Coruscant, the vast majority seem to be against any accusations of Imperial overreach. Listening closely, however, Mon Mothma does have support from one unnamed senator who yells out "She speaks the truth!" and "Listen to her!" during her short, ineffective speech. At least it's a small sign that not all hope is lost. Yet. Where there is one, there are potentially many, a truth Mon Mothma is clinging to. 

Turning out the lights

Hearing the loud, popping sounds in this scene for the first time, it almost seems as if some members of the New Republic are actually throwing things at Mon Mothma in the ultimate act of insolence. To be fair, most of these pathetic despots are quite old and probably lack any real arm strength, so if that were the case, Mon Mothma would probably remain free from injury. Personally, it took me a second to realize that a growing number inside the Senate Rotunda were actually turning off the lights of their repulsorpods as a sign of disrespect. 

First of all, I didn't know they could control their own pod lighting, but that does make sense considering they can literally hover around the entire chamber without any impediments. (I'm assuming there is some kind of license needed to control your own pod, but that's a question for another time.) Secondly, this simple act of defiance illustrates a profound piece of symbolism for the fate of the entire galaxy. By turning off the light, they are literally leaving the 100-meter Galactic Senate Chamber in the dark. Mon Mothma, if anything, represents a ray of light for the citizens of the Republic, and with a simple push of a button, the Senate is turning their backs on her, choosing instead to embrace the dark side.   

One of the strengths of "Andor" is the absence of the dualism between Jedi and Sith. But with one brilliant little touch, episode 9 reminds us how the balance of power and the balance of the Force are connected. 

The do-nothing galactic senate

Looking at the balance of power within the current makeup of the U.S. Senate, most of the Democratic agenda passed with an advantage of just a handful of votes, with the Vice President coming in several times to offer the tiebreaking vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reiterated that her party is trying to put people over politics, something that the so-called Do-Nothing Congress failed to do during their time in the majority. The Washington Post referenced a Pew Research Center report revealing that the 116th Congress was one of the least active legislations of the past five decades. 

Our political climate now uses fear tactics to make people think that law and order are deteriorating and public safety has eroded. Similarly, Emperor Palpatine uses the Aldhani payroll heist from episode 6 to crack down on supposed unrest by issuing the inhumane Public Order Resentencing Directive to re-establish order. Mon Mothma calls out this "complete unchallenged authority" and she is vilified for it. Her passion comes through when she pleads with the other members to remember where they are, saying "We are in a temple." 

They don't seem to respect that any longer, and after our Capitol was vandalized during the Insurrection, it can sometimes feel like those sacred hallways aren't held in the same high regard as they once were. 

Does Mon Mothma really want their support?

So, how passionate is Mon Mothma really? 

This speech in episode 9 of "Andor" implores the Galactic Senate to crack down on the Empire's overreaching grasp. But she clearly understands that the more suffering there is in the galaxy, the more fuel there is to grow the fire of the rebellion. Back in episode 7, "The Announcement," Luthen Rael quells Mon Mothma's fears that the Aldhani heist could bring unwelcome suspicions down upon her that could jeopardize the budding operation to fund an uprising. Luthen correctly points out that they need Palpatine to overreact and instill a deeper level of control and suffering across the Core Worlds and beyond. 

Up until the Aldhani mission, the people were acting like a Sorgan frog that was slowly boiling to death in the Empire's pot. 

With her speech in "Nobody's Listening!," Mon looks to be playing both sides, with hopes that she can cause a few more senators to publicly come out against the authoritarian rule of the Empire. Luthen Rael's speech made her realize just how much is at stake, and sadly, her rejection in the Senate Chamber might be one of her last attempts to rally support through proper political channels. 

With the symbol of the Empire looming largely on her Senate pod, Mon Mothma is steadily growing into the first symbol of the Rebellion.