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Political Dreams

Angela Kim

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The Cover of "American Dreamers"
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Sometimes you don't have to be a political junkie for the presidential candidates to seep into your subconscious. Each time you turn on the TV or read the news, there they are. For some people, these sounds and visions have made their way into their dreams. But what does it all mean? To make sense of the political dream world, we've invited Kelly Bulkeley, dream researcher and visiting scholar at the graduate theological union in Berkeley California, to sort through the dreams you've sent us in the last weeks.


John Moe: We've had some of our listeners tell us about the political dreams they've been having. Let's take a quick listen to one of them.

Melissa Jones: My name is Melissa Jones, and I live in Chicago, Ill. I had a dream where Barack Obama and I were outside on a Southern-style veranda, stretched out across from each other on white wicker couches. I could see my own feet. I wasn't wearing shoes. I remember that very distinctly. And it went from, you know, like, "Oh, just hanging out on the porch with my buddy," to "Oooh, I kind of like this guy." I guess I decided to test the waters and I tagged on a "babe" to whatever I was saying. Like, you know, "What do you think of that, babe?" The mood was ruined.

Moe: What do you make of that dream?

Kelly Bulkeley: Well that's a kind of a classic Obama dream. I've heard several like that, in the sense of people having dreams in which they're in intimate, friendly contact with him. They're hanging out, like the dreamer is, in a comfortable setting. It's the kind of dream actually I heard when I was doing research on this in the 1990s. People's dreams about Bill Clinton. Where they were similarly involved in kind of intimate, friendly, casual kinds of settings that seemed to symbolize their waking support for that given politician. There's an interesting aspect of this dream, though, and that's that he's in this big house and she's barefoot. My sense in this dream, and with some of the other Obama dreams I've heard, is that along with the intimacy and familiarity, there's a bit of distance.

Moe: OK, so that's one type of dream. The kind of dream that I tend to remember a little more often in my own experiences are the ones where things get awfully strange. And this next dream fits that category.

Taylor Baldry: My name's Taylor Baldry, and I'm from Minneapolis. In the dream, I was underground in this weird tunnel system. And the tunnel system was full of these slug-like aliens that are guarding people that were in these cocoons. I was following around these bug-aliens, and eventually we get to this big chamber. And in the chamber, it's full of politicians and judges and bug-aliens. And at the front of the room John McCain is giving a speech. Then, after the speech was over, Vin Diesel the actor shows up, and he's from the movie "The Chronicles of Riddick," which is a weird sci-fi movie. And he shows up and starts fighting all the aliens and fighting the politicians. And then he tries to save all the people that are in the tunnels.

Bulkeley: This is one of the dreams that makes me glad I study dreams. Because they're so fun, they're so crazy. You just never know what's going to happen. One thing that I found in my general research is that on average, political liberals, people on the left side of the political spectrum, tend to have more dreams, more kind of bizarre and strange and unusual types of dreams. Conservatives, by contrast, seem to have more dreams that are kind of rooted in the here and now, the everyday reality. So, right off, this sounds to me like a dream from someone on the left side of the political spectrum, just in that it's so crazy and it's so out there. And then Vin Diesel, movie actors popping up in dreams, they're kind of our culture's mythical heroes. Here comes Vin Diesel, rescuing the good people.

Moe: Well, we actually have a dream from someone who is a Republican, self-identifies as a Republican, who had a dream about Barack Obama. Let's listen.

Eric Nelson: My name is Eric Nelson. I'm from Charlotte, N.C. I had a dream about Barack Obama. I went out to the curb, it's a sunny day. And for some reason I'm supposed to be picked up by Barack Obama. He drove up right on time. He was alone in the vehicle, which I thought was odd. The vehicle was this maroon 1990 Dodge Caravan, and I opened the door to get inside, and the interior was also maroon, but it was very dusty. And dirty, like it hadn't been vacuumed out in fifteen years. And I started to climb in, and I never really got to talk to him. That's when I woke up.

Moe: What's really going on in this dream?

Bulkeley: When dreams go to the trouble of putting in particular details, like being dusty like he says, and dirty, or the maroon color, there's usually something to that. And the initial thought would be that the concern is, "Where is Obama going to take me? Where is Obama going to take us?" And I know in North Carolina the race is very close, and the dreamer may well be thinking, "Well, if Obama wins, what's going to happen?"


More dreams from listeners:

Michele Monson:

A few nights ago, I had a dream in which Barack Obama had to drop out of the election because his parents were very ill. He was sitting on the edge of a fountain, with his head in his hands. I comforted him by bringing him muffins and breadsticks. I will leave the muffins and breadsticks symbolism open to interpretation. Needless to say, I think I already know what Freud would say.

Kristen Gast:

I had a nightmare about Sarah Palin last night. She was my roommate, and she kept barging in and turning on the lights in the middle of the night to take pictures of me and my fiance (the scandal! not married!) asleep in bed together. She thought our outrageous, not-yet-married sleeping arrangements were her business and what's more, they were everyone else's business, too. She planned to append these incredibly mundane pictures to outraged letters to the editor she was composing about how liberals like me are responsible for the decline of American values. She insisted on composing these letters on the very noisy typewriter in my bedroom, and she would read her letters aloud to us very slowly as she typed in a sermonizing tone. In my dream, Sarah Palin was a very bad typist. I told her she was being obnoxious, and I kept throwing her out of the room and trying to go back to bed but she would just come back in and do it all over again. I woke up absolutely livid with Sarah Palin. My fiance has suggested that I need to spend less time following the news.

C. Lamb:

I walked through a door into a small, square medical waiting room. The door that led to the examination room was diagonally opposite the one I entered by. There were no windows, and the only furniture was the chair by the opposite door that Cindy McCain sat in, hair pulled back, knees together, hands in her lap, briefly acknowledging my presence with a nervous smile before turning her gaze back to the door. Though the room was not quite dingy, it was sufficiently barren that her presence was incongruous. Though she would no doubt have been gracious if I had spoken, it seemed better to nod without speaking.

Phoebe Downer:

I was in a magical world and I had to fight off seven beasts, one for the first challenge, two for the second, etc. The seventh challenge was a single dragon. I did have a wand to fight them with, but I soon lost it through carelessness. I was preparing for the first task when down into the dungeon came Obama and his daughter. Obama helped me to fight off the killer mosquito in the first room, but then I left to go get some orange slices with his daughter and left him to fight the rest of the creatures on his own.

  • Music Bridge:
    Chateau Rouge
    Artist: Fennesz
    CD: Venice (Touch)


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Evelyn Elwell

    From Los Angeles, CA, 10/16/2008

    I love the dream about Obama in a Maroon Dodge Caravan. Did you know that the nickname of the University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law, is the Maroons? And both dodge and caravan are actual words with meanings of their own that might be relevant.

    By Dianna Costello


    I heard your story the other day and had to laugh because I just had the most bizarre political dream. I was watching the last debate and fell asleep on the couch halfway through. I was annoyed my McCain's responses since I'm an Obama supporter. My dream: I'm walking down the aisle and getting married to McCain. That night on our honeymoon, I"m in bed with McCain and his wife Cindy. I tell McCain that I can't consummate the marriage... he'll just have to bear with me until I get used to the idea of being married to him. The next day, I'm hanging out with Cindy and she's being really sweet. We notice a growth on my leg and she offer to scrape it off. However, that causes my leg to get gangrene and I'm rushed to the hospital. They save my leg, and the next day I decide I need to get the marriage annulled in fear of what my friends who said if they ever found out we had wed.

    By Jennifer Smart

    From Milwaukee, WI, 10/11/2008

    I just had a dream that Ronald and Nancy Reagan were posing as the Dalai Lama. I found out they had done this in order to make money off of people, and so I stole the money back. But then I realized that I had stolen stolen money, so why would anyone believe me if I exposed those two for using sprituality to trick people out of their money?... I think I dreamt this because I worry that this election involves manipulation of people's spiritual beliefs, and I get very upset when politicians act as if their faith, or so-called faith, makes them trustworthy and reliable.

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