Today’s world is rife with partisan conflict. We can barely even pass a budget agreement.
Who better to ask for guidance than representatives of the biggest partisan division in America?
Republicans and Democrats? Please! I’m talking Team Edward and Team Jacob. Yes, that Team Edward and Team Jacob, on opposite sides of “Twilight” fandom, throwing their lot in with protagonist Bella’s vampire love interest Edward or his werewolf rival Jacob.
They were in town in force this weekend at Arlington’s Sheraton National for one of Creation Entertainment’s several yearly Twilight Conventions. Fans of Team Edward, Team Jacob and self-described Switzerlands all lived in harmony as they enjoyed the intimate weekend of karaoke parties, parody films, dancing, shopping, costume contests, and Q&As with the films’ stars.
Surely their love of Twilight had given them some wisdom they could impart to our struggling government! If they can overcome centuries of division between vampires and werewolves to sip martinis at the bar and talk about their love of Taylor Lautner, then maybe they could offer lessons for the political landscape today.
But first they had to explain the Twilight political system to me.
Apparently, the vampires are ruled by the Volturi, a self-made monarchy that gradually eliminated all opposition to its rule. Lisa from Somerset, Pa., explained that this showed that “Monarchy is corrupt, because the Volturi are like the top layers. They do whatever benefits them, no what who it hurts — little people, anybody.”
“Vampires are people who drink blood,” Neal Ostlund, one of the few male attendees, told me. “They do exist. . . . Ghosts, too. . . . Werewolves do, too.” But, reassuringly, “I don’t think they’re out to get us,” Ostlund said. “They’re just trying to live a normal life.”
Any political implications from the series? “I don’t know,” Ostlund said. He does know that Barack Obama is “Team Jacob, ‘cause I don’t like the president. I didn’t vote for him.”
Several more people confirmed that Barack Obama is Team Jacob. “He’s more the rough and tough… I can’t see him being a romantic,” says Lisa, a pre-k teacher from Georgia.
One thing was certain: Donald Trump was not doing well out in the preliminary polls.
Jim Stephens of Hagerstown, there with his wife Amanda, said, “Don Trump? I think he’ll have to be the Volturi.”
Trump? “One of the bad vampires,” said Benay Dunn, a Twilight Mom. Sarah Palin? “Team Volturi.” Mitt Romney? “Not so sure about him.” Obama would be on both teams — “As a politician, you want to appease everybody.”
But what can this teach us? Well, it’s complicated.
“America should be Team Edward,” explained Monica Korczyk, a Team Edwarder herself. “If he had to give her up he would, to make her happy. . . . He doesn’t care unless she’s happy. If she picks him, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine.” It was about doing what was best for people, because you loved them, and not caring if they picked you at the polls or not.
April Hancock, a fitness instructor and mother of five, on her second vacation in 10 years (the first was also to a Twilight convention) said that the lesson of the saga for politics was that “whether or not you agree about everything, they need to find that common ground and work together.” But there’s change you can believe in — and then there’s change you can’t. “One true love is a big deal, but when that one true love makes you want to change everything about you, to me that’s too much, you know what I mean?” So think again about that position on health care!
Cara, a librarian, and her friend Leti, an executive assistant, both from Arlington, were overflowing with opinions about the series’ broader implications.
“I wrote an essay on body image in Twilight,” Cara explains. “Bella never eats in any of the books, never eats with Edward . . . and the wolves are always eating. They have . . . muffins the size of your head! Which would you rather have — muffins the size of your head, or no food ever?”
There were absolutely lessons for the political process in this, about “Team Edward, Team Jacob, and inability to compromise.” I was excited. Which was which? The Tea Party is “Team Edward – they’re very one-minded and determined.”
What team is Obama? “Jacob.” “Jacob.” “The underdog,” Cara and Leti say. “Had to pull himself up by his bootstraps.”
Cara explains that the series is about class struggle. “It’s like ‘Pretty in Pink’ — she ends up with the rich white guy.” Those are the vampires, the Volturi and the Cullen clan, all in buttoned-down white-collar households, from families literally centuries old. “And you have Jacob, wrong side of the tracks. It’s blue-collar vs. white-collar.” One has money and immortality—the other is scrappy and underdoggish.
So what does this mean for the budget? Vampires don’t like taxes? “Vampires don’t like taxes is the lesson of today,” Cara confirmed.
So the lessons are few but memorable: Avoid the Volturi. Donald Trump is a bad vampire. Barack Obama is probably on Team Jacob. And sure, Team Edward and Team Jacob may not agree on much, but they both love the same thing. So whatever team you’re on, try to look past your differences and do what is best for Bella — er, America.
I hope that was helpful.
And this wasn’t the first time Twilight fans encountered politics. Last year, they booked the Sheraton National at the same weekend as the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan. It was awkward.