Marvin Folkertsma

Why would that be? Perhaps it had something to do with the “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes” version of President Obama who showed up at the second debate, to complement the first version, who just wanted to get his victory declared before throwing out his first pitch. Both Obamas and their huge media support have seemed to follow a “Shutter Island” script for the past four years, especially during this presidential campaign. Consider the desperate pursuit of Teddy Daniels, the main character in “Shutter Island,” a brilliant and driven FBI Agent who constructed an elaborate fantasy world that submerged a questionable past and legitimated his current mission. Spoiler alert: Daniels created characters, talked to them, believed they were real; and he acted out a narrative that was a complete fiction. Throughout it all, he encountered those who shook their heads in dismay and alarm, like Dr. Cawley in “Shutter Island,” while observing Daniels play out his fantasy, in hopes that eventually he would accept reality.

Call the Obama supporters, media mavens and campaigners alike, “Shutter Island” Democrats, for all their arrogance and enraged commitment, as they constructed an elaborate set of political fictions surrounding a mission to punish their political equivalent of Andrew Laeddis, which is Daniels’ real name. Such fictions involved ascribing to Obama’s presidential challenger all sorts of nefarious characteristics: Mitt Romney is a killer, a liar, a felon, a heartless robber baron. He must be destroyed at any cost!

Indeed, “Shutter Island” Democrats in the media and the Obama campaign seemed to have convinced quite a number of Americans that their sanity-challenged view of reality was in fact true; it took the shock of Romney’s performance in the first debate to convince many in the undecided category otherwise. What about the second debate, didn’t President Obama win that? Does it even matter? Probably not. Because in both cases, too many in the Obama campaign and the media have still refused to accept reality, that Romney is not a “Shutter Island” character and that their own hero represents little more than a bizarre projection of themselves, with either his soporific arrogance or meretricious assertiveness.

The question is whether America’s “Shutter Island” Democrats will ever change, will ever escape their fantasies about themselves, their opponents, and the narratives they’ve constructed. The book suggests not. Its last lines read like a credo for “Shutter Island” Democrats: Teddy asked, “You think they’re on to us?” “Nah,” came the response of his imaginary friend and real-life therapist. “We’re too smart for that.”

“Yeah,” Teddy said. “We are, aren’t we?”

Marvin Folkertsma

Dr. Marvin Folkertsma is a professor of political science and fellow for American studies with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. The author of several books, his latest release is a high-energy novel titled "The Thirteenth Commandment."