Brow Beat

It Was a Big Week in Politics for Star Trek: Voyager Fans

A collage of photos of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kate Mulgrew as Capt. Janeway, and Stacey Abrams with hearts.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kate Mulgrew as Capt. Janeway, and Stacey Abrams.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Lars Niki/Getty Images for the Athena Film Festival, CBS, and Jessica McGowan/Getty Images.

When it comes to ‘90s-era Star Trek series, Voyager doesn’t always get its due, maybe because it couldn’t quite live up to the high standard set by The Next Generation or because it lacked the gravitas and daring of Deep Space Nine. (Or maybe it’s just because we’re all trying to avoid thinking too hard about the events of “Threshold.”) Still, Voyager stayed true to Star Trek’s overarching spirit of exploration and cooperation, forcing two very different groups of people to work together to survive and testing the characters’ utopian ideals by stranding them far from the safety of the Federation. Plus, the series was the first in the franchise to be led by a female captain, Kathryn Janeway, played by the dynamic Kate Mulgrew.

The show’s lasting influence can be felt in two stories from this week about prominent Democratic politicians, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Stacey Abrams, both of whom are fans of Voyager and, in particular, its lead character. The first surprise nod to Trek in the political sphere this week came from the Daily Mail’s unexpectedly wholesome interview with Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, who described how Voyager became a portent of her daughter’s future success.

“One of the last things she did with her dad before he died was sit with him and watch a Star Trek: Voyager episode on TV,” Blanca explained. “In one scene, Captain Janeway (a character played by Kate Mulgrew) appears and my husband, who could no longer talk, pointed at the captain then at Alexandria, and back and forth, to say to her he thought she’d be like Captain Janeway one day, someone in charge.”

Years later, Mulgrew showed up at one of Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign rallies, apparently without warning, to endorse her candidacy and give her a communicator.

The other Voyager shoutout appeared in the New York Times on Thursday in a story with the headline “Stacey Abrams, Star Trek Nerd, Is Traveling at Warp Speed.” In quotes from a previously unpublished interview from last summer, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate says that while The Next Generation is her favorite series, she “reveres Admiral Janeway.” She also shows off her good taste in Trek by picking a Voyager episode, “Shattered,” as a favorite. It’s a deep enough cut that it doesn’t usually make the Top 10 lists, but it is still a well-respected time travel episode and one that’s more rewarding to diehard Trekkies rather than casual viewers.

I’m no political strategist, but the 2020 presidential candidates should strongly consider “There’s coffee in that nebula” as a campaign slogan.