Our Government Is Lost

There are some strange and fascinating parallels between our federal government and the television show Lost. Before I continue, I must confess that I haven’t watched more than the first half dozen or so episodes, so if some of the following observations don’t ring true to any faithful viewers “out there in TV Land,” I apologize.

For one thing, both casts of characters are, well… truly lost. They both spend their days planning and puttering aimlessly, and have few and feeble long-term strategies, at best. Both sets are essentially clueless, lacking important knowledge about their environment and each other.

Both groups actually keep secrets from the rest of their populations. In the TV show, flashbacks reveal dark elements of the characters’ past lives, which if revealed to the others on the island, would undoubtedly result in a demotion in the Lost pecking order. Meanwhile, our government masters are certainly haunted by numerous skeletons-in-the-closet, of proportions great and small, which, if revealed to the general population, would result in scorn, disgrace and perhaps the end of their careers. (Witness former FEMA director Michael Brown, for a recent example.) Additionally, there are all those nasty little secrets that government keeps from its citizens, the truths that it cannot allow to be known. Not to mention all the outright lies.

Both the show’s writers and the government do whatever they want; both are open-ended, without rules. In the former case (and this is the reason I gave up on the program), it’s clear that Lost can change direction at any time. If it wants a rifle-toting woman to be living in a cave on the supposedly uninhabited island, it can have one. If it wants a mutant polar bear, it can have one. If it wants a talking ghost, it can have one. If it wants a portal to another world, it can have that, too. There is no plot device it cannot throw into the mix as “part of the mystery.” Government, too, does whatever it wants, without regard to logic or common sense. If it wants a ridiculous law or policy, it enacts it. If it wants a new war, it instigates it. If it wants to spend us into poverty, what the heck.

Both TV show and government will undoubtedly come to a pathetic ending: Lost when it runs out of steam after a few more years, and we discover that the island is some sort of nexus between the universe’s many dimensions (or we are treated to some other time/space contrivance) which will neatly justify every irreconcilable twist and turn; the government when its irresponsible policies and corrupt nature bleed us dry, spend us into oblivion, and suck the life out of our very souls. Our government will eventually dissolve into an allied subsidiary of China, Inc., its puppet “Western Legislative Branch.”

Finally, both entities have received awards. Lost recently won, somehow, the Emmy award for best drama, while the government is always puffing itself up and patting itself on its crooked back.

September 26, 2005

Andrew S. Fischer has worked in various fields.