And The Next President Is
A Star Trek Short Story
The following is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. (well, maybe not entirely)
The following story is not to be taken as a political endorsement of any kind.
* * * *
“Welcome back to Illuminating the City of Light
and to the final minutes of our Election Day coverage right here in Paris. I’m your host, Velisa,” said the Kriosian woman who sat in the center chair, flanked by four others, two on each side, all of which occupied.
Behind them the City of Light was visible through a window or a display with such a sharp resolution it was impossible to tell the difference. It was already night in Paris and the city lived up completely to its nickname, shimmering in a glow of bright lights.
The attractive host smiled gently for her viewers. “As this historic election draws to a conclusion with just minutes away from the polls closing all over the Federation we’ll also conclude our ongoing discussion with our panel of experts. As you can see from our live feeds from polling stations all across the Federation, this is shaping up to become a close race and we have so far refrained from projecting a winner. Stay with us and we will be the first to tell you who our next president will be.
If you are only just joining us, I’m in the studio with four of the Federation’s top experts on the two candidates and their campaigns. To my far right, Kelvin Schoppenhauer, chairman of the Schoppenhauer Political Academy and supporter of the Admiral O’Sullivan campaign. To my immediate right, T’elka, senior campaign analyst for the Federation Gazette. With us at my far left is Professor Thomas Williams from the University of Alpha Centauri who has published a number of works on Councillor M’kaar A’Rarb-bo. And to my immediate left we welcome political correspondent and freelance writer Brett Maroney.
Again thank you all for joining us today.”
The four men around Velisa all nodded in acknowledgement.
“Gentlemen, we have discussed in great detail this lengthy campaign and the many issues which have undoubtedly made this one of the most memorable presidential campaigns in history. I would like us to further explore the greater significance of this campaign and what it may mean for future generations.”
“The historical implications are quite clear, Velisa” said Professor Williams. “A’Rarb-bo is the first non-humanoid candidate to run for the office of the presidency. I cannot overstate the significance of that fact alone. For a long period of time the Federation has all but ignored the fact that a great amount of races in the galaxy are not humanoid –“
“Ignored is an overstatement,” interrupted Schoppenhauer.
Williams continued. “The election of the first non-humanoid to the highest office of the Federation sends a clear message to the galaxy that non-humanoids are as much a part of the intergalactic community as humanoids are. It will also greatly improve our standings, I believe, with the many non-affiliated races beyond our borders who have looked upon us for generations as a hypocritical humanoids-only club who talks a lot about all inclusiveness but does not fit the bill.”
“Look,” said Schoppenhauer, “I agree with the Professor that we need to do more for non-humanoids, especially those who are part of the Federation but –
“Those who are part of the Federation,” repeated Williams. “That’s the problem with O’Sullivan’s entire campaign. He just doesn’t look beyond our borders, there is more to the galaxy than the Federation and his failure to understand this –“
“Trust me,” said Schoppenhauer, “Admiral O’Sullivan understands this perfectly. Before his retirement the man was a Starfleet officer for most of his life.”
“And a decorated war hero,” added T’ekla.
Williams appeared annoyed by that. “Yes, a war hero. We have been beaten over the head with that fact by now.”
“There is no need for your disrespectful tone,” said T’ekla.
“I completely respect O’Sullivan’s war record and I’m grateful for what he did while serving in Starfleet,” said Williams. “But I don’t believe that being a war hero qualifies somebody to be president.”
“More so than being a first term councillor from a world that has been part of the Federation less than a decade,” shot back Schoppenhauer.
“If you had made the effort of looking at A’Rarb-bo’s record you would have found that he almost single handedly reformed his entire planet by brining three hostile factions to the table for the first time in centuries and transforming Endathu into a paradise.”
“Local accomplishments do not translate to successful presidencies,” countered T’eka, “We’ve seen that time and time again.”
“A quick election update at this time,” said their host. “As predicted Endathu, the home world of the Councillor is going to A’Rarb-bo. However Earth, the birth place of Admiral O’Sullivan, is still too close to call.
We know that there has been a great amount of enthusiasm and early popularity for Councillor A’Rarb-bo’s campaign who is running on a platform of brining a new, outsider perspective to Paris. Or is it perhaps that O’Sullivan is suffering from his close ties to the current Satie administration?”
Williams took the question first. “There is no denying that Satie’s approval ratings are at their lowest since she took office. And for good reasons. Most Federation citizens – myself among them – feel as if we are headed in the wrong direction. The Cardassian rebuilding efforts have been slowed down significantly thanks to an increasingly strong insurgent movement to which the current administration has had no answers to. In the meantime Starfleet continues to take heavy losses.”
“Professor Williams,” said Schoppenhauer, “you know as well as I do that the administration has made great progress with Cardassia and Councillor A’Rarb-bo’s refusal to acknowledge this is quite frankly staggering. Since last year we have increased Starfleet presence in Cardassian territory by nearly 30 percent which has led to a sharp reduction of insurgent activity. And Admiral O’Sullivan was a key co-author of that strategy.”
But Williams shook his head. “This problem cannot be solved by more starships. What about the economic implications? The cost of rebuilding Cardassia has completely strained our resources to such a point that regular citizens are concerned about their future. The moneyless economy which has been a cornerstone of the Federation for hundreds of years is near collapse.”
“You have a tendency to exaggerate matters, Professor,” quipped T’ekla.
“Really? Well you should have another look at recent polls suggesting the rising anxiety levels among Federation citizens.”
“I’ll tell you why citizens are anxious,” said Schoppenhauer. “It’s not an economic collapse they are worried about but the steadily increasing influx of refugees into core Federation worlds. A’Rarb-bo seems completely uninterested in discussing the issue and even President Satie has failed to provide clear policies to handle this growing refugee problem.”
“We do not have a refugee problem,” countered Williams. “You and O’Sullivan especially, being a former Starfleet officer, should be well aware that the Federation has always been about diversity and welcoming new people and races to our community. That is what gives us strength and what will ultimately lead to a more stable galaxy. O’Sullivan’s plan is to turn the Federation into a closed society and Starfleet into a military organization not unlike the Klingon Defense Force. And that is exactly why our reputation beyond our borders has deteriorated. We have to return to the Federation’s original promise.”
Schoppenhauer chuckled at this a bit. “Once again, Professor, you’ve done a terrific job at completely missing the point of our platform. O’Sullivan has never advocated to change Starfleet’s role.”
“His plan is to divide Starfleet,” said Brett Maroney who had said very little in the conversation up until that point. “An exploratory arm and a defensive unit.”
“That is ridiculous,” said Williams. “Starfleet has always fulfilled both roles more than adequately and the fact that we have never resorted to a purely militaristic organization is what has made the Federation so attractive to many of the worlds who have joined us. It’s part of the Federation spirit.”
“And O’Sullivan is very much aware of this. But what you and A’Rarb-bo fail to understand is that we have an increasing number of enemies. The galaxy has become a more hostile place and quite frankly I don’t see how you cannot understand this after the Borg and the Dominion. We have to start thinking about survival instead of expansion. A pure defensive unit will be able to provide us with the protection we need while continuing the spirit of exploration with a separate, independent organization.”
Professor Williams shook his head with clear disagreement but didn’t get a chance to voice them.
Velisa beat him to it. “It now seems that Vulcan and Grazerite are projected to go for Councillor A’Rarb-bo. Andoria which was anticipated to be a swing world is still too close to call. Tellar Prime, Cait and Alpha Centauri are projected to go to Admiral O’Sullivan. It might come down to the outcome of the elections right here on Earth which at the moment seems to be evenly split. Perhaps most surprisingly is that this election will be much closer than first anticipated when A’Rarb-bo appeared to enjoy a significant lead in the polls. Could we attribute the closeness of the race to the recent scandals which have surfaced?”
“Absolutely, Velisa,” said Williams. “Admiral O’Sullivan has pretty much tried every rule in the book and quite a few too dirty for any book to discredit his opponent. It is of course a tactic not unknown amongst presidential candidates but since O’Sullivan realized that he would lose this race if he would continue with the kind of dignified campaign he promised us he has quickly to moved on to a strategy of mudslinging and accusing A’Rarb-bo of the most ridiculous associations.”
“I resent Professor Williams’ accusations,” said Schoppenhauer. “It is Admiral O’Sullivan’s duty to demand that the electorate knows all there is to know about Councillor A’Rarb-bo –“
“By bombarding it with constant lies and unabashed negative campaigning? That’s not carrying out a duty to the electorate but pure self-interest,” interrupted Williams.
“Kelvin is right,” said T’eka. “We need to know who the real A’Rarb-bo is. Most people in the Federation have never even heard his name before he decided to run for president. And if it is true that he has close friends amongst the Neo-Maquis then that warrants closer scrutiny.”
“It has been proven again and again that the Councillor does not have nor has ever had any ties to the Neo-Maquis – “
“It has not been proven at all, Professor. In fact a number of former Maquis members have come forward and admitted that the Endathu government actively supported their fight against the Cardassians on numerous occasions. The Councillor at the time was a senior member of his planet’s ruling party,” Schoppenhauer insisted.
“He was,” agreed Williams. “One of about a thousand. Endathu’s political entities are well known for their size. And A’Rarb-bo was a junior member of that party at the time and worked at the interior affairs ministry. As such he would not have had contact with foreign organizations. Your point also continues to fail to make the vital distinction between the now defunct Maquis and the more violent Neo-Maquis.”
“They’re both terrorists,” said Schoppenhauer. “I don’t see much of a difference. And you make another interesting point, Professor, which is A’Rarrbbo’s undeniable lack of experience with dealing with foreign issues. We are at a time where we need well-vetted and experienced leadership. Somebody who knows the galaxy inside and out. Not a person who has spend most of his life dealing with minor internal issues on a world which for a long time had little to no contact with other races.”
“What we’ll get with O’Sullivan,” said Williams, “is a continuation of Satie’s failed policies. It is no secret that O’Sullivan has served as a principle advisor to her administration since day one. In fact the two have served in Starfleet together. And let’s not forget that O’Sullivan was directly involved in the Efrosia Affair which led to the resignation of an entire Sub-Council and brought shame to the Satie administration. We need to ensure that something like that will not repeat itself. We need to restore integrity to the Palais de la Concorde.”
“You know as well as I do,” shot back Schoppenhauer, “that Admiral O’Sullivan was never implicated in that regretful affair. In fact he vehemently opposed that particular legislation from the very beginning. If anything he can be accredited for exposing the scandal and those responsible. You talk about integrity but forget to point out that Admiral O’Sullivan has one of the best track records of being open, honest and an independently minded person who has never been afraid to disagree with Satie on key issues.”
“That’s right. About 10 percent of the time,” sneered Williams.
Velisa smiled in an attempt to break the tension created by the panelists. “With only moments away until polls all over the Federation close, would you gentlemen like to make some closing remarks. It may very well be the last time we hear from you before the next president is elected.”
“Well, Velisa, let me say that I have faith in my fellow citizens that they will have realized that this election is too important to choose inexperience and questionable associations over proven leadership. The very future of the Federation might hang in the balance and Admiral O’Sullivan is a person committed to ensure the safety of the great worlds which make up our Federation. We will be stronger, safer and a more stable union under President O’Sullivan.”
“There isn’t much I can add to Kelvin’s words,” said T’ekla. “Except perhaps to say that our enemies will think twice before trying to take on the Federation once O’Sullivan has been sworn into office.”
Velisa nodded and looked at Williams for his statement.
“I am convinced that voters are smarter than to be misled by O’Sullivan’s negative campaign. I am convinced that they will see right through the misinformation that they have been fed and come to the conclusion that what we need most in these trying times is for an outsider to take the wheel of the Federation. Councillor A’Rarb-bo is the only person who can steer us back onto the right path after years of dead-end polices which are bound to continue with an O’Sullivan presidency. A’Rarb-bo will be president and the Federation will become a better place for it.”
“Thank you, gentlemen,” said Velisa and then turned to look at Maroney. “Is there anything you would like to add, Brett?”
He looked at her for a moment and then nodded. “I believe both candidates have some good ideas and both are qualified to be president.”
This seemed to shock the other panelists as well as the host herself.
“But I guess those views are not particularly popular these days. I have no illusions why I was invited to this panel, Velisa. I know that because of my articles in the past you and your producers assumed that I would provide a good counter to an analyst from the Gazette whose political views are hardly a secret. I’m sorry if I didn’t play the expected role but I have to say, I am somewhat tired of this format which continues to be perpetuated by the media and I’m certainly grateful that this overlong campaign is about to come to an end. Sadly I know that partisan bickering as we have seen here today will continue long after this election. If you ask me why things are as bad as they are now, I think we can attribute it to exactly what we have seen from both sides over the last months. I don’t think things will really improve until we can start agreeing on some common grounds and stop focusing on all our differences.”
The Kriosian host seemed lost for words for short moment. “Well, I certainly appreciate what you are saying, Brett, but there’ll always be differences.”
“Of course,” Maroney said. “But all we seem to be interested in these days are why and how we are different. It has become an exercise in accusing each other and questioning the other person’s character. We don’t even analyze the issue anymore, instead all we crave for is the next gaffe. We focus on the handful of voters who haven’t made up their mind while the rest of us seems to cling to our candidates as if they could do no wrong.
What we need in order to make the Federation great again is an honest and bipartisan discourse. And that takes all of us, including the media who has been perfectly content with pitting both sides against each other in forums such as this one. You have a much more important role than to provide the arena in which we fight. You too need to take some of the responsibility for bringing us back together instead of trying to divide us even more.”
Velisa had clearly not expected this kind of argument and was now scrambling to keep her composure. Then her visage quickly managed that friendly smile again, as if an unseen person had just whispered great news into her ear. “Mister Maroney, you bring up some interesting points but I’m afraid we are out of time to discuss them any further. I’ve just received words that the polls have now closed throughout the Federation. We have also been able to project Earth and Andor and with them the election.”
She placed a finger on her ear. “Correction, I’m just being told that we are in a position to actually call the election. That is right, we are now confident, based on the data available to us, to declare the winner of this election.”
Velisa took a deep breath, fully appreciating the monumental news she would be able to announce. “It has been a long and historic campaign but it has now come to its ultimate conclusion.
Ladies, gentlemen and all beings of the galaxy, the next President of the United Federation Of Planets is …
__ __ __ __