Monday, April 10, 2017

The Path To Victory: Chapter Two

March 2, 2017,
17:02 local time,
CNN Studios,
Manhattan, New York

“Joining me here in The Situation Room,” said Cable News Network (CNN) anchor Wolf Blitzer, opening his show with his trademark booming baritone, “is Roman Consul Gaia Julia Praeliata, here to talk about the Roman Caesarean election now winding into its final weeks. Thank you for joining me, Consul Praeliata.”
“It’s my pleasure,” said Praeliata, who possessed a strong but biting baritone herself. Middle-aged but youthful looking, the tanned blonde was dressed in her ceremonial toga, form-fitting so that it brought out her bust. She did so because she found the inherent sex appeal of her outfit intimidated her colleagues in the very macho world of the Roman Republic, the Empire’s most influential group of provinces, collectively administered by the Senate. Her hard-nosed approach helped her become the Senate’s top Consul, the “Ordinary Counsul” (or simply the “Consul”), in 2011.

“We’re going to start with the topic that’s on everyone’s mind right now,” said Blitzer, “and it’s the fact that Erasmus now leads Valerius in the polls for the first time in this electoral cycle. What’s your immediate reaction to that?”
“Well Wolf,” said Praeliata confidently, “I’ve said it many times before- I think Erasmus is too stubborn and too temperamental to be the right fit for Caesar. Many of my colleagues in the Senate believe he would be very hard to work for which is why the Republic is taking the unprecedented step to campaign for Valerius who, while having many faults, has proven that he’s capable of compromise.”
“Yes,” said Blitzer, “but I’m sure you have worked with difficult politicians before. What makes Erasmus so different?”
“Erasmus,” stated Praeliata emphatically, “is the classic example of the civilian who thinks he knows more than all of us experienced politicians so he decides he’s going to become one. Usually many of those people learn on the job or they at least are willing to do so, but Erasmus has shown no signs that he wishes to do so. What’s worse, because he has this cocky, arrogant attitude, he’s more likely to hold us all in contempt and refuse to listen to suggestions that could be of benefit to the nation.”
“I understand,” said Blitzer, “but I’m sure you have dealt with a few arrogant politicians too.”
“At least politicians understand what’s at stake and how it all works,” said Praeliata. “There are things in the political world that a layperson like Erasmus will never understand unless you’re involved in it like I am. He may be a former Police Chief, but that’s an entirely different world from politics. If he really thinks he can walk in and pretend that politics is the same way, he’s in for a ride awakening.”
“Are you scared of him?” Blitzer asked, point blank.
“No,” said Praeliata without hesitation. “Not at all. Wolf, there’s a difference between being scared and recognizing when someone is too naive and stubborn to ever have a working relationship with. Erasmus isn’t fit for the job, and I’m going to say that.”

Praeliata smiled confidently as Blitzer decided to forge forward.

“Consul,” he started, “I want to get to the question that’s on everyone’s mind. Ever since Augustus was first crowned Emperor in 27 BC, the Senate has technically held the power to decide who is truly deserving of the crown. Now, it’s mostly a ceremonial role today, but there’s rumours that because of your pointed stance that the Senate may refuse to fulfill that role and decide to crown someone else. Will you state for the record what your intentions are in that regard?”
“Well Wolf,” said Praeliata confidently, “it’s a little premature to be talking about that kind of thing when the vote is still two weeks away. Having said that...all options are on the table at this stage and we will examine them when the situation comes.”
“So you are saying that you may forgo crowning Erasmus as Caesar,” said Blitzer.
“I’m saying all of our options are on the table,” said Praeliata, with a wry smile.

March 22, 2017,
20:34 local time,
Viridis’ Apartment,
Rome, Roman Republic

“This isn’t just a victory for you,” said Erasmus, addressing his supporters in a video, “but this is a victory for all Romans. For far too long we have been under the destructive policies of inaction and ‘compromise’ under Valerius, but no longer. For today, we will forge ahead as a Rome that is decisive, a Rome that is assertive, a Rome that is fearless, a Rome that is strong.” Erasmus waited as thunderous cheers emanated from the crowd.

“A Rome,” he continued, passion oozing from his smooth, commanding baritone, “a Rome that is Rome again! The Empire is back!”

Cornelia Marva Viridia, better known as Viridis, closed her laptop and sat up on her bed.

It had been over a month now and it still didn’t sink in. Despite Valerius making a comeback in the polls, on the Ides of March, Bill Firechild, now known regally as Erasmus, won the election to become Rome’s 295th Caesar.

It was a close contest, with Erasmus barely eking out a majority with 50.4% of the vote. Valerius came in second with 49.2%, with other candidates garnering the remaining votes. For the first time, a Caesar won the election despite not carrying the Republic, where Erasmus only gained 28% of the vote.

Many who opposed Erasmus’ candidacy used that result as further proof that he was not “a real Roman” and thus should not be Caesar.

Viridis saw it differently.

To Viridis, Erasmus reminded her of the tough-talking, authoritarian-minded politicians she believed dominated Rome’s enemies, the Virtue Federation. She was struck in particular about how much Erasmus reminded her of the English Conservatives, forever a thorn in the Romans’ side, not just of Jack Kent but also of politicians of yore, like Margaret Thatcher and former American Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the latter whose hawkish policies started the destructive Third World War.

She didn’t want a Fourth, so she was determined to stop Erasmus.

Viridis got on her blog and wrote a post for her millions of followers, one of whom was Praeliata. She wrote a long but impassioned post, reminding Praeliata that nowhere on the Twelve Tables does it say that the Consul must crown the victor of the Caesarean election as the Caesar, as the Tables clearly say that the ultimate decision rests with the Senate. She then reminded her readers that this was “written into” the Tables so that the Senate could be a “check” on “the mob”, overruling them when “their passions override their better judgement” (she was factually incorrect- the Tables simply stated that the Caesar is to be crowned by the Senate. The perception that the Senate could be a “check” on the mob arose from statements by revolutionary Canus Magnus in 1848, who merely suggested that the Senate take up this role).

Viridis continued by telling Praeliata that she had a “duty” to spare the Romans from “the passions of the plebeians” and use her “better judgement”. “For you,” she wrote in the post’s final sentence, “know that this is not simply about an ideological difference- this is about Rome falling to a Caesar that will undermine the Empire’s every value, one that will devolve from the dignified world power to the impulsivity of the barbarians. We cannot, as a generation, allow such a travesty to happen. Only you, Praeliata, have the power to make that happen. Make it happen. –Viridis.”