Voyager kicked off a butterfly effect that ended with Obama becoming president

In a world governed by chaos, a lacklustre entry in a beloved TV franchise can change the global political landscape.
Senate Candidate Barack Obama Speaks In Chicago
Senate Candidate Barack Obama Speaks In Chicago / Scott Olson/GettyImages

I am convinced that Star Trek is like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but for everything, not just actors. Some of the most unexpected things are related to Star Trek, The most surprising connection might just be the presidency of Barack Obama. But the Obama Administration isn’t just related to Star Trek, but may have directly resulted from it. Even more strangely, Obama may have become POTUS because of Star Trek: Voyager’s soft season 2 ratings

Voyager’s soft ratings were the first domino, the butterfly in Brazil that caused a typhoon in China. 

Of course, the time-honoured solution to bad ratings is to bring in new blood, often in the form of a bombshell hottie or a cute kid. Voyager did both, but only the hottie became a member of the core cast, (the kid was a recurring guest star.) Seven of Nine was a reformed Borg Drone played by Jeri Ryan, who was poured into a famously restrictive skin-tight catsuit for reasons that the show barely bothered to justify plotwise, we all knew the real reason her costume was virtually painted on. 

It's hard to imagine Voyager lasting seven seasons without Seven.

Jeri Ryan was married to Jack Ryan, who is not the guy from The Hunt For Red October, but a businessman and aspiring politician. Ryan ran for the Illinois senate seat in 2004, five years after his marriage ended. He ran against a young state senator named Barack Obama. 

Jack Ryan’s senate run, and political career came to a messy end when details of the divorce became public. I won’t get into what was divulged, as the court records were unsealed against the wishes of both Ryans, who wanted the record to remain sealed for the protection of their young son. But suffice it to say, what was divulged was the sort of thing that ends political careers. When Ryan dropped out of the race, he was replaced by Alan Keyes, who Obama trounced by 70 percent to 27 the largest wining margin in the state’s history. Obama won 92 of the state’s 102 counties. 

Now, you may have noticed a few weasel words up there, like “may be,” and “may have.” That’s because the narrative that draws a straight line of cause and effect from Voyager to Obama’s presidency does call for a little speculation. History could have very well proceeded just as it did if Jeri Ryan had never joined the Voyager cast. She did not cause the divorce proceedings to be made public (in fact, as I mentioned, she was against it,) and polls indicated that Obama would’ve triumphed over Jack Ryan with or without the scandal. 

But here’s why I still find the narrative convincing. The divorce proceedings were unsealed due to salacious rumours about what they contained. Would these rumours really have gained traction, or elicited public interest if they hadn’t involved a famous actress? Remember, this was the golden age of the paparazzi. There was a prurient interest in every single private detail of beautiful celebrities’ lives.

Voyager had made Jeri Ryan into a sex symbol, now a political race gave the public an excuse to pry into her private life. Jack Ryan was just collateral damage, a bit player in his own political scandal. 

And as for the inevitability of Obama’s senate victory, those polls had him beating Jack Ryan by a much smaller margin. Without such a sensational win, would Obama really have had the momentum to win the presidency after just four years in national politics? Obama announced his candidacy for the presidency a little more than two years after being sworn in as a senator. 

Obama might have mixed feelings about his presidency being dependant on such a sordid affair, he called for the divorce records not to be injected into the campaign. But he might be quite pleased with the Star Trek association, here he is confessing to being a Trekkie.

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