Betty Hill has died at the advanced age of 85, giving the lie to the Surgeon General's warning that alien abductions are "bad for you." Betty and her husband Barney had mysteriously disappeared for two hours during a drive from Canada to New Hampshire in 1961, and later recalled under hypnosis that their DTs had been caused by ETs. Serves her right for marrying a purple dinosaur.
We would be remiss if we did not note the title of her magnum opus, published in 1995. It was A Common Sense Approach to UFOs. Now, without her steadying hand at the helm, the movement is in danger of being hijacked by kooks.
But let us not be flippant or cavalier. The Bush campaign is in a tizzy, as well it might. This event is sure to rally the UFO vote, who otherwise rarely leave their bomb shelters. And it is a well-known fact that UFO enthusiasts vote Democrat by a margin of ten to one! Even our recent inroads into the Lesbian vote may not be sufficient to overcome this handicap.
Facing so grim a prospect, it behooves us to shed our constricting mantle of skepticism and step into the world of the abductee (okay, I made up the word, so sue me). The horror, the upheaval, the overturning of familiar norms, it's no less of a culture shock than being a Peace Corps volunteer in Timbuktu or even Arkansas. The kid took a nap and woke up kidnapped. And now folks look at him like he is one saucer short of a full set or, conversely, one saucer long. We ought not to judge him before we have walked a mile in his Birkenstocks.
Let us be bold and enter for a moment the world of the UFO voter.
In this world, a man can come back from four months of fighting a war and throw away his medals in a public demonstration, go before Congress and tell it that he and his comrades routinely committed war crimes and atrocities on the scale of Genghis Khan, then run for President on the basis of his military record.
In this world, a man can be a United States Senator who votes against every major weapons system and every military engagement, including a police action to expel Saddam Hussein from an egregiously overrun Kuwait, then run for President on the premise of being uniquely suited by temperament for the role of Commander-In-Chief.
In this world, a man can submit a tax return which shows that he and his wife employed an array of loopholes to pay a 12 percent tax rate on a grossly understated income of $5 million, run for President against a man who paid a 27 percent rate, and say that he will stop pandering to the wealthy and see that they pay their fair share.
In this world, a man can sit in the United States Senate for two decades, not have a single memorable legislative achievement to be distinguished by, have a voting record that marks him as Number One most extreme in one political direction, and then run for President as a centrist who will provide solidity and nuance.
In this world, a man can run for President and claim to have no connection to a series of proxy organizations receiving many millions of dollars from billionaires and running paranoiac ads that paint America as a puppet regime run by Saudi Arabia and Halliburton, yet demand that his opponent stop the ads run by opposing organizations.
In this world, a man can argue that an activity which his religion regards as murder is not within the province of his legislative mandate, that its practitioners deserve to be shielded from the scrutiny applied to all other medical procedures, and that his coreligionists should elect him based on their shared faith.
In this world, a man can openly condemn a war while the men are in the field, a war which he voted for, vilify the ally countries by calling them bribed and coerced, disparage the newly installed government of Iraq, boycott the Prime Minister's address to Congress, then maintain that his superior diplomacy will improve foreign relations.
This moment of outreach and empathy has been most invigorating. We are learning to reach beyond the parameters of our narrow existence. Not all aliens are illegal. Not all science fiction is fiction (or science, for that matter). We need to be more open to the fringe members of society and not cede their votes to the Democratic Party. This is a breakthrough. We're definitely on to something. Today the UFO voter, tomorrow the Wiccans. Come and join our big tent. If they have Streisand and Springsteen, why can't we have Barnum and Bailey?
So go in peace, Betty Hill. Oh, and if you ever want to collaborate on a book called "A Common Sense Approach to The Democratic Party," drop in on my next séance and I'm sure we can work something out.