the fifth printing
In November 2044, Senator Malcolm King was elected President of the U.S. with his running mate, Governor Celia Curie. The following interview occurred on December 1, 2044.
Mr. President, what an incredible pleasure it must be for you to celebrate your victory and settle on invitations for joining your new Administration.
Miguel, first, call me Malcolm…
I can’t do that, it would be presumptuous.
You can do it. And it would be sensible. Really, why should anyone call me Mr. President? If you call me Malcolm, officials tell us, you will slide toward rampaging disobedience. I see the situation differently. Deification denies respect. Calling me Mr. President would push you toward subservience. It would push me toward egomania. My name is Malcolm.
Please use it.
Okay, Malcolm, a few weeks have passed since the election, how do you feel?
Elated. Eager. Cautious. Enervated. But I know we won by a multi-year tsunami of energy and involvement. It wasn’t a personal victory. Ideas won. Program won. Vision won. Millions of volunteers and 100 million voters won.
Were you surprised?
Thirty years ago, I would have said nothing like this was possible in my lifetime. Yet, here we are. We could discuss countless factors. We could consider the importance of the new portable lie detectors. How could justice lose when no candidate could lie without everyone knowing? But our election’s primary dynamic was that hope overcame despair.
Activism overcame passivity. Vision propelled hope. Sustained outreach created courage.
New ideas spread joy in barrooms and despair in backrooms. Soul searching bent minds. Radical activism established models and built organization oriented to continually win more. An unyielding, diminution of despair accelerated an avalanche of desire. From town to town, city to city, and state to state, that is what I saw.
When you first entered the Oval Office, what were your thoughts and feelings?
I didn’t go into that oddly oriented room and feel awe at its celebrity. I didn’t feel connected to a great governmental heritage. I didn’t feel humbled being where so many past presidents had been. Their history is not mine. For me, being in the Oval Office was like being in a hall of horrors, not in a museum of good deeds.
I looked at the presidential portraits and saw an abyss. I looked at them and felt, how can I remove these pictures without being misunderstood? How can I put up pictures of those who resisted the machinations of past presidents? In the past two weeks I found beautiful art with just those attributes, and as soon I can remodel, I will go on TV and channel the late great Howard Zinn to explain my distaste at the past presidential portraits and my pleasure at the prospect of daily seeing the dissident people’s art I will put up instead.
That may cause a ruckus, don’t you think?
It may traumatize some citizens, I don’t know. If it does, I will sympathize and explain, but, nonetheless, as we remake our future, while we need not beat ourselves up over our past, we should certainly come to grips with it.
It has been three weeks. What have you done, beyond planning to remodel?
Mostly, we have been finding people to fill posts and also considering which posts to eliminate or redefine. We have our program. We know our agenda. But we also know we can’t do it all at once, much as we would like to, so we have also been assessing which aspects we should pursue first.
Should we quickly enlarge the Supreme Court by appointing a few new additional members, for example, since it makes zero sense to have anything less than a court of diversity to help us usher in our new society?
Should we call for a constitutional convention so we can get right to the heart of redefining how our government works? RPS shadow governments have already blazed a path. Should we follow it immediately?
Should we not only re-name the Defense Department, the State Department, and various others, but immediately reconcile their roles with our revolutionary aspirations and appoint new Secretaries in accord?
Should we accelerate the ongoing transformation of our armed forces to socially worthy agendas?
Should we engage in massive prison pardons even as we renovate all aspects of the legal process into wise civility and redemption?
Should we immediately enlarge government programs seeking climate redemption, ecological balance, equitable allocation, and all the rest that our movement has focussed on?
Should we legalize all on-going workplace occupations and urge, aid, and defend new ones, also enforcing tax and other policy trends leading toward equitable, cooperative economics?
At the same time, should I get it firmly into my head and never forget that it isn’t me doing any of that. It isn’t he, she, them, or it. It is a vast social movement?
So when you ask about what we have done in the last three weeks, a good part has been finding folks to appoint to work in this government, who will not only admirably fulfill their responsibilities but who will also curb my tendency to ego-inflate and who will keep themselves and me in touch with popular energies and desires.
You have spent the whole campaign indicating your public intentions, but can you tell me your purely personal goals for the next four years?
To keep my head on straight, to honor the activists who went before us, to do my part in constructing our new society, and to help others in other parts of the world re-mold their societies as they decide.
Less personally, you and RPS members all over the country speak of this as a time of construction compared to recent years that you have called times of consciousness raising and contestation. Can you explain this?
When RPS first formed its relatively few members had beliefs seriously different from those of their neighbors, schoolmates, workmates, and often even from their relatives. Our emphasis had to be reaching out, discussing those differences, and raising consciousness.
That aspect of seeking change will never end, but as steadily more people became aroused and involved it became possible to mount struggles for immediate albeit limited changes. We increasingly contested authorities for gains. As our struggles became larger and more effective, they became the defining aspect of our work. We were still raising consciousness, but our deeds started to be more instrumental to our growth.
As we kept growing, and kept contesting, in time we became able to create and maintain innovative new structures both for immediate benefit and also as models and seeds of a better future. That aspect then steadily grew in importance, even as the other two persisted. We constructed, and now construction has become preponderant.
Seen this way, there are three aspects or moments, to our revolutionary process – and probably to any revolutionary process – and while all three always operate, the weight of focus and accomplishment tends to shift. We started mainly consciousness raising. We moved to mainly contesting. Finally, we will mainly construct. Revolution advances from chronicling nightmares that defer desirable dreams, to winning elements of desirable dreams, to making desirable dreams reality.
Returning to now, do you have special plans for Inauguration Day?
It should be joyful but it won’t be if ten million folks come to DC for the day. That many people, no matter how mutually supportively they act, would overwhelm facilities. Yet we know even more than ten million want to attend events to share their joy. Why so many?
The revolution’s joyous want to come. And that’s not just activists but rebels and rakes. Its outcasts, the gentle, the kind. Its poets and painters, bricklayers and truck drivers. Its saints and sinners too. Indeed, which un-harmful, gentle soul won’t want to come? Our chimes are going to toll loud and long. Who won’t want to hear them up close?
History has till now been so harsh and unkind that too many people will want to dance in the streets of our little town, which is why we are having events in all states, and in fact in all counties in the U.S. And I suspect there will be celebrations around the world as well, partly because other countries are on their own roads to their own transformations, and partly in the celebratory knowledge that the U.S. is going to do its share to reset the international table by setting aside our missiles. How does it go: We shall beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks. We shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall we learn war any more.
In 2000, to mark the changing of the century, there were events around the world. Each celebrant country and population partied in its own way. I envision something like that happening. Why not? We aren’t celebrating an abstract, arbitrary date. We are celebrating a decades-long struggle, a centuries long struggle, that is now embarked on creating new history. We are riding the arc of history, at last. We are not embarking on year 2045, but on year 1.
We will have people from government positions at as many of the celebrations as we can manage, and people deeply involved in RPS will attend all of them, of course. There won’t be one jet bomber in the air. Not one drone. It won’t be self congratulatory pomp and circumstance.
But you are perhaps asking only about the Washington event. And here, while it will be up to those doing the planning and those attending, and I imagine it will be raucous but also determined, and I hope we can have one part of it left for me to handle. The music playlist. I want to choose that! And I want it to play loud and long with entries going way back in our history and stretching to the present. I want it to remember suffering, honor struggles, and foreshadow liberation. Music matters, and I would like the honor and responsibility of settling on the inauguration playlist.
So I get that you are redesigning your office walls, resetting the chimes, selecting guardians of your program and your public connection and service, and researching songs. But once you take office, what is your highest priority for your first hundred days?
Pursuing the campaigns I mentioned earlier, plus ensuring that the second hundred and the tenth hundred days, and the years after, also come off as they ought to.
Thank you, Malcolm. I know you have to rush off now but I would like to say I think you will have no trouble earning the informed respect you favor and contributing to creating the positive new relations we all desire.
I am glad to hear you feel that way, because I would like to respectfully request that you join me in the endeavor as my Press Secretary. After all, you have interviewed me and many others, asking questions we have had to answer. Now it is your turn to do the answering. You can start fielding questions the day after inauguration from your compatriots in media who I hope will be as insightful in what they wish to know as you have been.
I am at a loss for words. I had no idea. I don’t know what to say… I haven’t been interviewed, vetted, nothing…
Consider this your interview. Consider your past public involvement your vetting. Say yes. You will do great.
Alright, okay, how could I possibly not try to help. I am humbled and I will strive to do my best for a better future, but there is just one thing. Don’t expect me to ever say I serve at the pleasure of the President. I can only be Press Secretary if I serve the interests of the people, the revolution, and the future. Your personal pleasure, or even permission, has to have nothing to do with my daily choices. Is that acceptable?
It is not only acceptable. It is my preference. Welcome to the administration.