“Fear is the easiest feeling to evoke but the hardest to shake.”- Galdenia Remara, “The Commoners’ Unending Struggle” (1960)
October 21, 2016,
17:00 local time,
Manhattan, New York
“The North American Union election is back on,” boomed Wolf Blitzer towards the camera as he began his TV program, “and a new party is in the running. Meet the face of that party next in The Situation Room.”
After the theme music played, Blitzer again turned to the camera and explained, in all his bombast, about the new situation for the North American election. With the typically patriarchal, traditional Christian values leaning Federalist Party’s poll numbers cratering and the Unionist Party becoming increasingly divided over its nomination process, a new party, the American Party, an all-around populist party emerged, leaving the Unionists as a Party built on cultural and economic minoritarianism. The American Party drew from their ranks several defectors from the Unionists (and a few Federalists) allowing them to have members of Congress and a full compliment of candidates just like the other two more “traditional” parties.
More importantly, the Unionists’ Presidential nominee was Haylie Modine, who selected as her running mate the Emeldic Thomas Bighill, both of whom were the sworn enemies of the Americans’ nominee for President, nightclub magnate Juan Castro, who was Blitzer’s guest this afternoon alongside his running mate, Virginia President Martha Cadsen.
“Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Castro,” said Blitzer as Castro forced a smile to hide the discomfort Blitzer’s loud voice caused him.
“Thank you for having me,” said Castro. “It’s always great to come down here.”
“Bold move creating the American Party,” said Blitzer.
“Well, things got so testy within Unionist circles that I had to make a decision,” said Castro. “I remember what happened to Anatu and I feared that could happen to me, especially after some of the things I heard. So behind the scenes I talked to many people in an effort to create the Party and today I’m happy to say it’s come to fruition.”
“So you were worried about being usurped,” said Blitzer, who leaned back but listened with intent.
“Yes,” said Castro, “but this wasn’t about me...I saw what happened in Asia and all the chaos that happened and I didn’t want that to befall America. So I took a stand, not just to protect myself but to protect our democracy.”
“Essentially,” said Blitzer, “you’re admitting that you allowed the Unionist Party elites to defeat you.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” said Castro. “It’s more of a recognition that our relationship wasn’t going to work. The Unionists were very clear they were not interested at all in working with me and the environment there was very toxic...so why stay on? If that makes me look weak, so be it, but I argue I took a big risk in launching a third party and leaving an ‘established’ name like the POP...so, if anything I’ve got guts.”
“Fortunately,” said Cadsen turning towards Castro, “you’ve got a lot of people who agree you were treated badly and that the Unionists were never going to change, so they need to be defeated.”
“Thanks,” said Castro with a smile as Cadsen patted his back.
“Wolf,” said Cadsen, turning towards Blitzer, “what the Mound Party did in removing Anatu as a candidate cannot be understated. It set a dangerous precedent, where the will of the voter could be ignored simply because the party’s leadership does not like the candidate the voters picked for them. So we absolutely had to make a stand and create this party so that North America knows they have a party that will actually serve them and no one else.”
Castro turned to Cadsen and smiled, as, publicly, he tapped the outgoing Virginian President’s extensive experience in lawmaking as the reason for being his Vice-Presidential pick, as she has been serving since 2004. In secret, the svelte blonde’s youthful looks despite her advanced age (she was 55, four years his senior) was a close second to her experience as the reason for his pick.
“Something must be working because you guys are commanding the polls right now,” said Blitzer. “A Gallup poll just released today shows Castro has the preference of 45% of voters, considerably ahead of Unionist nominee Haylie Modine at 25% and the Federalist nominee Rodney Dickens at 24%.”
“Those are,” said Castro, stifling a smirk, “pretty good numbers.”
“We’re not trying to get ahead of ourselves,” said Cadsen. “We know we have a lot of work to do, and we know we’re not going to win this election via the popular vote. The Electoral College, flawed as it may be, decides this campaign, and there are some states we may need to flip.”
Cadsen, unlike Castro, understood the political machine, especially North America’s twisted Electoral College system. Though most states were assigned one elector for every two million people, some states- which have “special status” within the NAU”- were allowed an elector for every million people, including the crucial state of Quebec. Worse, with three parties and a “first past the post, winner take all” system, the risk was there that the Unionists or the Federalists could “steal” the election despite the Americans’ big lead, as all either party needed to do was win several states by razor thin margins, negating any third place finishes they may receive.
Cadsen looked up and smiled, eager to move the conversation to other topics, but before she could pipe up, Blitzer smelled blood.
“Well right now Juan you’re leading in almost all the swing states,” said Blitzer. “In fact, a new poll today suggests that the Adirondacks may not be a swing state at all, and that you might be able to wrest it from the Federalists for the first time ever. Why do you think your message has been taken so well?”
“Well,” said Castro, who couldn’t stifle this smirk, “I think the American people are frustrated with the politics of pandering and they want us politicians to start taking things seriously. Nobody cares about shark fins or bathrooms or the names of a sports team- they care about whether or not they can feed themselves and their families. That’s what we strive to represent and that’s what we’ll fight for- nothing else.”
“What do you say, Juan,” said Blitzer, “to the numerous commentators and other members of the public that have come out and condemned your stance, suggesting that your privilege blinds you to the plights of a lot of people, many of whom are petrified of your potential election?”
“I say they should be scared,” said Castro. “Very much so, and I do not try to shy away from that.” Cadsen tried to interject but Castro pushed on. “Too many people are unable to feed themselves or shelter themselves because of politicians who decided their ‘pet projects’ were far more important than serving the needs of their people. Washington has become riddled with activists and lobbyists who put the interests of the few over the interests of the many, and it has categorically hurt this continent.” Castro then looked directly into the camera and made sure he enunciated every following word. “It is time for activist politics to come to an end.”
“That is…noted,” said Blitzer, who did his best along with Cadsen to hide their discomfort with Castro’s remark. “So you don’t wish to reassure, at all, that those who are scared of you have nothing to worry about?”
“No, I don’t,” said Castro curtly.
“Wolf,” said Cadsen, fighting to jump in, “just the fact that you referred to Juan’s opponents as ‘marginalized groups’ indicates everything that is wrong with the continent. We are constantly intent on dividing ourselves and insisting every one of us has our own selfish, special interests and, when we do that, we wind up with a million different shouting voices and no one listening and trying to come to a common ground on what should be done. This suits the elites just fine because it means we’re all distracted as a people and thus we can be taken advantage of. We’re not saying that we’re not going to listen to certain people or that we’re going to ignore their issues- far from it. We are simply saying that we are going to strive to find ‘the common good’ and that we’re interested in solutions that help everyone, not just some people.”
“Yeah,” said Castro. “Don’t get me wrong- I’m not intending to ignore the plights of marginalized people in North America and I fully hope to be able to serve them and help them with the best of my abilities. I’m just saying the days where activists can outright dictate policy are over in Washington.”
Blitzer forced a smile as did Cadsen, before moving on to other topics, including Castro’s plan to make every NAU state a signatory to the Treaty of Buffalo. This would mean that the world’s other nations would be required to recognize each NAU state and be forced to have diplomatic relations with each, instead of the current format where states are grouped together as “coalitions” for the purposes of the Treaty. The Federalists support the status quo, while the Unionists support having one unified NAU coalition represented under the Treaty.
The rest of the interview went smoothly, aside from Castro calling his opponents “candy asses” for their positions on the future of the NAU. After the interview, Cadsen took Castro aside in their dressing room.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Cadsen said, putting her hands on her hips. “Are you trying to cost us the election?”
Castro contorted his face to signal his disbelief at Cadsen’s line of questioning.
“Chillax, babe,” he said, “I’m not.”
“Then why are you telling people on air that you want them to be afraid of you?” Cadsen said before shaking her head.
“Don’t you know Machiavelli?” Castro said, not at all fazed by Cadsen’s questions. “ ‘It is better to be feared than to be loved.’ I want the activists to be afraid. I want my opponents to be afraid. You know why? Because their fear gives me strength.”
“Okay, but even Machiavelli said that state wasn’t ideal,” said Cadsen, “and he lived in a dictatorship. Of course he expects his leader to evoke fear...because that’s the only way he can be sure that he can maintain his power. In a democracy, fear is useless, since the ruler’s maintenance of his spot depends entirely on the people.”
Castro looked on, nonplussed.
“Okay look,” said Cadsen, letting out a loud huff. “In a democracy, if people are afraid, they’ll seek someone who can alleviate that fear and defeat who scares them. If you make them afraid, the people are going to vote against you, not for you.”
“Maybe so,” said Castro with a wry smirk, “but you heard Wolf...I’m up by twenty points across the continent. I got this is in the bag.”
Cadsen sighed, knowing the national polls would get to Castro’s head.
“Popular vote doesn’t matter,” she retorted. “It’s the electoral college vote, and you are not in a comfortable position. Don’t think you can’t blow this.”