"The story you are about to read..."
Trouble in Rightland
“The story you are about to read is fictional.
Principles are real, and the lack of them a disturbing and frequent occurrence.”
-Francisco J. Garriga
It had been a long campaign. The winner was exhausted. Most civilized countries limit political pandering to a few weeks, but in The Land of the Free there was no defined starting point. No one knows how this madness got started. Some people feel that the media companies made so much money selling political ads that they concocted a contraption known as the 24 hour news cycle. This gigantic cylinder was housed in a deep bunker hidden in the middle of a desert. It was kept spinning in perpetuity, and its sensors were remotely wired to the brains of anyone who held, or wanted to hold, public office. If any of these people snored loudly, or had a profane dream, or became constipated, these events were made public around the world within minutes. Naturally they felt obligated to respond to the media to justify their often subconscious behavior. People tuned in to listen; they constituted what media companies call an audience. Advertising minutes could be sold in between the series of stark revelations. Campaigns became perpetual affairs. Money flowed; billions of dollars in profits were generated.
But I digress. The winner had a late night. It was a close race, not decided until way past midnight. Then came the call from his opponent, and the celebration parties, and the most difficult part: the divvying up of the jobs, contracts, and favors to the people who had given money and time. So his staff did not worry much when the successful candidate seemed out of sorts the following day. And the next. Four days later, when matters had not improved, a meeting was arranged. The candidate, his wife, and the campaign brain trust plus a couple of prominent donors attended.
The campaign chairman thanked everyone for attending. Then he spoke to the new governor, Scary “Macho Man” Strident.
I’m OK, he said. It’s just that everyone is changing the rules on me.
“Are you talking about moving to the governor’s mansion?”
That’s one thing.
“Why don’t you want to move?”
I ran as an outsider. All the experts said that I won because I was an outsider. My opponent was involved in politics for years. I was not part of the political establishment.
“That’s true. People wanted an outsider to shake things up.”
True. Well, the moment that I move into that place I’m no longer an outsider. I’m part of the same establishment that I railed against.
“But you get to shake things up.”
With what? You’ve given me a list of people that I need to name to government posts. They are all seasoned politicians. No shakeup. All of my campaign was a lie.
“We’re going to need new laws to shake things up. We need people who know how to draft bills, and get them through the legislature.”
That’s another thing. There’s almost no one new in the House or Senate. Nothing shaking there. It’s all the same story.
“But you won. A huge victory. A tribute to your military service.”
It means nothing. The only reason that I won is because of all the money you guys spent. And I didn’t want to be governor; I was shooting to be president. Now I’m no longer an outsider. How will I win the presidency if I’m an insider? People want the outsiders.
“The presidency is different. People want some experience.”
Then how do you explain Trump? If he weren’t so self-destructive he would have won in a landslide. Another outsider. Now I’ve blown my chance, because I listened to you guys. I’m stuck in this stinky job in the state of Miss-the-point. You guys fooled me.
“We did our best. We let you blow some things up.”
Scary’s eyes brightened up.
That was fun. Think I can blow up the governor’s mansion? I’d be OK with that.
“The mansion belongs to the people. I don’t think so.”
The people loved it when I blew things up. Let me do it. We can have it televised!
“I don’t think so.”
How about the Capitol building? It’s full of insiders. For sure people would love it if I blew it up. A nice gesture; full of symbolism.
What if the legislature does not agree with me? Can I fight them?
“No; that won’t fly either. You need them to pass laws to shake things up.”
People loved it when we had that ad of me boxing. We can show it to the senators. Agree with me, or I fight you. It would be no contest!
“You don’t understand. You can’t blow things up; you can’t fight. You have to kindly ask these people if they will go along with you. They are your friends.”
How can that be? They’re insiders!
“We have to work with the insiders. We have to lower wages so that businesses can make higher profits. They gave us money. We have to increase gun sales. They give us money. We have to make it hard for women to get birth control. Too many of them are having sex without being married; this is why we have so much crime. We have to continue to deny access to medical care for the poor. Those who do have medical insurance need to pay more for what they get. This is what we stand for. We’re counting on you.”
But that’s what we’ve had for as long as I can remember. How is that shaking things up?
“As soon as businesses make more money they will make sure that things get shaken.”
What if they decide to keep that money instead? I’ll never get to be president!
“Macho man, I promise: you have to trust me on this. Hundreds of people who control billions of dollars are watching you. You get them more money, and they will make sure that you get to be president.”
I don’t know. I can’t blow things up. I can’t fight. I can’t be an outsider. The very essence of my being has been taken away. Why should I trust you?
“We’re the only chance you have.”