Texas Sen. Ted Cruz offered some surprisingly strong opinions on the politics of “Star Trek” in an interview published Thursday in The New York Times Magazine, arguing “it is quite likely that Kirk is a Republican and Picard is a Democrat.”
“Let me do a little psychoanalysis,” Cruz says when asked about the fictional space captains from the landmark 1960s television series and its ”Next Generation” follow-up, which aired some 30 years later. “If you look at ‘’Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ it basically split James T. Kirk into two people. Picard was Kirk’s rational side, and William Riker was his passionate side. I prefer a complete captain. To be effective, you need both heart and mind.”
The Republican presidential candidate also waded into the politics of the “Star Trek” franchise, which has been praised for its progressive outlook on racial and gender relations, beginning with the original series, which broke ground with a diverse cast, humanitarian plot lines and television’s first interracial kiss.
“The original ‘Star Trek’ was grittier,” Cruz suggests. “Kirk is working class; Picard is an aristocrat. Kirk is a passionate fighter for justice; Picard is a cerebral philosopher. The original ‘Star Trek’ pressed for racial equality, which was one of its best characteristics, but it did so without sermonizing.”
This isn’t the first time Cruz has speculated about the political leanings of one his idols. Last month, he claimed that former President John F. Kennedy “would be a Republican today.” Cruz argued that because Kennedy was “one of the most powerful, eloquent defenders of tax cuts,” there was “no room” for him in the modern Democratic Party.
Cruz, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, also noted that he is “more of a Spider-Man guy” when it comes to comics and that he prefers Han Solo to Darth Vader, despite his infamous impression of the “Star Wars” anti-hero on the Senate floor.
William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original “Star Trek” series, responded to Cruz later on Thursday afternoon, tweeting that putting “a geocentric label on interstellar characters is silly.”
“Star Trek wasn’t political. I’m not political; I can’t even vote in the US,” said the actor, who was born in Canada. At least he and Cruz have that in common.