The Butterfly Effect, the Borg and Obama

The Butterly effect that lead to the Obama presidency

Mathematically, the Butterfly Effect refers to how small changes on initial conditions can magnify in deterministic nonlinear systems. It comes from the apocryphal example of how a butterfly flapping its wings in Hong Kong can lead to a hurricane a few weeks later in Kansas. Now you may be wondering, what is the connection between the Borg and Obama?


Star Trek: Voyager

In 1994, Star Trek: Voyager premiered on UPN. The Voyager crew were marooned in the delta Instead of contending with the old familiar alien races like the Klingons, Cardassians and the Romulans. We encountered new, unfamiliar species in the Delta Quadrant.

The first alien races encountered were the Kazons and the Ocampa. Unlike the Cardassians, where we saw very complicated, ambiguous characters like Gul Dukat and Garak, the Kazons were rather two-dimensional. They were more primitive than the Federation and wanted to steal their technology. The Ocampa were child-like and dependent on the Caretaker. Let's not forget the entirely creepy subtext with Kes' and Neelix's relationship with Kes being only three years old.

Naturally, Star Trek fans did not take a liking to these new Delta Quadrant characters and the ratings suffered. At the end of Season 3, Voyager decided to bring back an old, menacing villain, The Borg. They also decided to bring in a new storyline of a Borg disconnected from the collective: Seven of Nine. The mesmerizing and beautiful Jeri Ryan won the role.

This gamble worked! Voyager’s ratings shot-up by 60% after the introduction of Seven of Nine. While originally intended to be a sex symbol, Jeri Ryan proved herself to be a very capable actor. Seven of Nine had to grow, learn and deal with complexities of a new life.

The GOP Field

In 1994, Jeri Ryan married Jack Ryan, who at the time was a philanthropist and an investment banker. In 1998, Jeri Ryan decided to file for divorce. During their marriage, Jack Ryan, without discussing it with Jeri Ryan took her to a sex club in New York and New Orleans. Jeri Ryan said she was uncomfortable at the sex club in New York. Jack Ryan promised that he would not take her to another sex club and promised that he "had gotten it out of the system." However, in 1998, without informing Jeri Ryan, Jack Ryan took her to another sex club in Paris. She started to cry, and Jack Ryan responded, "Crying is not a turn-on." Jack Ryan's insensitivity prompted her to file for divorce.

During the divorce proceedings, they fought an acrimonious custody battle over their son. Jeri Ryan had filed a sealed affidavit recounting her ordeals with Jack Ryan. The divorce was high-profile because Jeri Ryan had become famous from Voyager, and many tabloids covered the divorce.

But when Jack Ryan decided to run for Senate, in 2004, as the GOP candidate, Chicago Tribune filed a lawsuit to get these files unsealed, and they won.

Until the release of these files, Jack Ryan was leading the Democratic candidate Barack Obama by a few points, and he had outraised Obama by a few million dollars. Not only that, but an incumbent Republican held the seat. The Republicans were planning on deploying their entire arsenal for this race. The Republican National Committee and the Republican Senatorial Committee were planning on outside spending to boost Jack Ryan.

But, after the release of these files, Jack Ryan was forced to quit the Senate race, in June. However, it wasn't until August, with less than 90 days until the general election, the Republicans decided to replace Jack Ryan with Alan Keyes. Jack Ryan was a spectacular campaigner who had a gift for charming people. He was also an Illinois native and spent his entire life in Illinois. Alan Keyes could, in no way, match the natural oratory skills of Barack Obama. He also had never lived in Illinois and was seen as a carpetbagger.

Candidate Obama was also given a grand boost when John Kerry inducted him to speak at the Democratic National Convention. His oratory skills were spectacular, and this boosted out-of-state fundraising and small-dollar donations.

In November, Candidate Obama won in a landslide to become Senator Obama. Obama received 700,000 more votes than John Kerry in Illinois in 2004.

Jack Ryan's divorce would not have grabbed so many headlines if it weren't for the fact that he was married to Jeri Ryan, who became famous because of Star Trek Voyager.

(I know that this connection is kind of a reach, but it is still interesting to see how events tie together in history).

Original Inspiration: This Reddit thread