Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Extraterrestrial Presidential Election

1980: America’s First Extraterrestrial Election

President Ronald Reagan                                                          President Jimmy Cater
In a democracy, an idea ceases to sound crazy once every candidate in an election has accepted it. By that measure, 1980 is the year Americans embraced the possibility that humans might not be the only intelligent life forms in the universe. That’s because both that year’s presidential candidates, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, reported having life-changing encounters with unidentified flying objects at some point in their lives.

The following is a summary of what we know about Presidents Carter and Reagan’s close encounters of the third kind and how these episodes affected their views on our place in the cosmos:

In 1969, state senator Jimmy Carter was preparing to give a speech in rural Georgia when an associate called his attention to something floating low above the horizon. There he claims he saw a luminous object change colors several times then vanish into the night sky. So convinced was Carter of what he’d seen, he refused to recant his story even as his political career took off. In 1971, while serving as governor of Georgia, he filled out a questionnaire detailing the incident, and, in a slightly surreal moment from the presidential campaign trail, he promised to make “every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and the scientists.” (PDF) Once in office, however, Carter reneged on this promise, citing simply “defense implications.”


Carter’s successor in the White House claimed even more firsthand experience with UFOs. Ronald Reagan twice said he spotted unexplained aircrafts zooming over California. In the second, more publicized instance from 1974, he and three passengers on a private plane noticed a bright light in the sky over Bakersfield. Reagan later told a reporter that his pilot followed the mysterious light before it suddenly “shot up into the heavens.” Like Carter, the episode appears to have some impact on Reagan’s political thinking. In a 1987 speech before the United Nations, he famously predicted that it might take “an alien threat from outside this world” to force the nations of Earth to cooperate.


Though we will never know what exactly Presidents Carter and Reagan saw those fateful nights, one thing is for certain: the 1980 election proved world leaders from both sides of aisle agree we may not be alone in the universe.
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