By Mark E. Smith
Lanova Messiah is a hero of the peace movement here in Exxonia. Lanova’s mother was tortured and killed by the corrupt dictator who is now our country’s President. Lanova has been arrested many times protesting the crimes of our government, most recently at the office of one Member of Parliament who had promised to help us remove our dictator from power, but has not, and at the office of another who is also from Lanova’s own political party but is protecting the dictator instead of protecting the people. So it was with great joy that we learned that Lanova is running for Parliament herself.
Of course we know that if elected, Lanova would be a junior member with no seniority, but we are happy to have a chance to vote for someone who cares about peace as much as we do, and who we know to be incorruptible. We also know that Exxonian elections are rigged, but we think that Lanova has a good chance of winning anyway. The only candidates with a chance of winning the Presidential election are one from the dictator’s political party and one from Lanova’s own party, but both have consistently voted for everything the dictator wanted and, if elected, are committed to continuing the dictator’s agenda of atrocities and crimes against humanity. So if the private corporations that really run our country, and that own and program the voting machines, want the two-party system to retain any credibility at all, they may allow Lanova to have a token and powerless seat in Parliament. From the point of view of the corporations, this might help allay the growing rebellion within the citizenry, and will put Lanova in a position where she can be more easily controlled.
Exxonia’s two ruling parties are the Corrupt Party and the Not-As-Corrupt Party. Like most decent Exxonians, Lanova is a member of the Not-As-Corrupt Party, but will have to run as an independent to get her name on the ballot in the next election. Once elected, however, Lanova will be considered part of the Not-As-Corrupt Party’s voting bloc, despite being nominally independent. The job of the Corrupt Party in Exxonian politics is to promote the agenda of war crimes and atrocities to further enrich the already wealthy elites. The job of the Not-As-Corrupt Party is to support the same criminal agenda, but not quite as fervently. In this way they can co-opt those citizens who oppose war crimes and prevent them from opposing the system by allowing them to cling to the illusion that change could come about from within the system itself. Only half of Exxonia’s citizens, seeing that their only choice is between flagrant supporters of war crimes and fewer flagrant supporters of war crimes, reject this as an unreasonable choice and refuse to vote in our rigged elections at all.
The overwhelming majority of Exxonians are unhappy with our government, but we show our displeasure by voting in rigged elections and by calling on our corrupt dictator and his lap dog Parliament to change their ways. We are a peaceful people with a relatively comfortable standard of living, and we are not given to violence. Of course we know that our government is a military superpower and one of the world’s biggest arms dealers, so we can see how futile a violent revolution would be, even if we were to attempt one.
We Exxonians think of our Parliament as a sacred institution. This idea is perpetuated in the schools among the youngest children and is deeply ingrained. We revere the founders of our country who did not give us a mere dictatorship, but a dictatorship with the appearance of a democratic apparatus, Parliament, that had the possibility of being responsive to the people. We know that with one or two exceptions, all the Members of Parliament are wealthy elitists who can’t be held accountable to their constituents, but we like to pretend that the rich aren’t greedier or more corrupt than anyone else. We desperately need to believe that if Lanova is elected, and particularly if a handful of Lanova’s colleagues are also elected, we will finally have achieved a real voice in government through our electoral process.
Deep in our hearts we know, of course, that our sacred institution of Parliament is really nothing more than a bureaucracy designed to shield the powerful from our grievances and our wrath. Like any bureaucracy, it has a hierarchy, a strict chain-of-command, complex procedures, and time-tested ways of dealing with troublemakers and insubordination. Facing the truth that our sacred institution is nothing more than a bureaucracy, however, would force us to accept the fact that we do not really have a voice in government, so this is something that we cannot do. We not only remain in deep denial about this crucial issue, but we attack anyone who mentions it with the fury of those who have convinced themselves that a naked emperor is regally garbed.
Let’s take a look at what Lanova will encounter in Parliament once elected. First of all there will be the complicated procedures that must be followed. For help in understanding and navigating these obstacles, Lanova will hire competent staff members who have made careers out of trying to work within these rocky channels. Naturally, it will never occur to such people to try to do away with the obstacles or to find ways to go around them, because then what would they do for a living? So Lanova will be taught the proper rules and how to follow them.
Lanova’s first actions in Parliament, of course, will be similar to the actions that Lanova has taken as an ordinary citizen. She will attempt to speak out on the floor of the House of Commons, but will always be ruled out-of-order. She can then choose whether to confine her speeches to after-hours sessions, where TV cameras will film her speaking to an empty room, or to continue attempting to speak out while the House is in session until she has been pronounced out-of-order, declared in contempt, and ushered from the floor by the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Parliamentary Police and arrested enough times to justify having her removed from Parliament by reason of having a criminal record.
It is also possible that Lanova will decide to abide by the rules of Parliament and attempt to work within those rules to persuade Parliament to remove the dictator from power and to stop funding his war crimes. But being a freshman, Lanova will not have any important committee assignments or any seniority with which to qualify for such assignments, so Lanova’s legislation is unlikely to ever make it out of committee and get to the floor for a vote so that she can discuss it without being arrested. Lanova will quickly become frustrated and realize that to accomplish anything, it is necessary to first have more power, which would mean remaining in Parliament to gain more seniority. In order to do this, it is necessary to raise vast amounts of campaign money, so instead of legislating, Lanova, like all other Members of Parliament, will have to spend almost every waking moment trying to raise funds instead of legislating. Lanova will need more staff to read and brief her on legislation that has reached the floor, and to remind her when it is time to vote.
Lanova’s office will quickly be bombarded by hordes of lobbyists trying to influence the way that Lanova votes, so even if Lanova intends to ignore them, it will be necessary to have more staff to deal with them. And since lobbyists can often make the fund-raising process easier, it is likely that due to her need to gain more seniority to be able to accomplish anything, Lanova’s staff will at least have to be courteous to the lobbyists. Lanova’s capitol and district offices will also be besieged by constituents seeking her help with personal and community problems, so Lanova will need more staff to cope with constituents. Parliamentarians themselves, no matter how much they may care about their constituents, simply don’t have the time to communicate with them other than in town meetings during campaign season. Without her staff, Lanova would be as hobbled as a prerevolutionary Chinese woman with bound feet. But given a large and dedicated staff, including both paid professionals and unpaid interns and volunteers, Lanova will be able to concentrate on raising money to stay in office and gain the seniority necessary to have the power to accomplish anything in Parliament.
As a fierce warrior for freedom and the child of a martyr, Lanova may seek to circumvent the bureaucratic procedures of Parliament. This will be seen, by the corporations that really run Exxonia, as trouble-making and insubordination, so they will instruct the leaders of Lanova’s party to punish Lanova by removing whatever seniority she may have gained, or refusing to grant her the privileges to which such seniority usually entitles one. Lanova may be denied committee memberships, and her party can easily withhold support for her legislation and, by endorsing and financing her opponent, substantially increase the costs of her subsequent political campaigns. If Lanova wishes to stay in Parliament long enough to gain the power to carry out anything, she will find herself having to submit to party discipline, at least to a limited extent. Lanova will never become her Party’s leader in Parliament, of course, because only those who commit to not opposing the dictator can rise to that position.
After many terms in office, if she submits to party discipline, Lanova may find herself the powerful head of a powerful committee. But she will still not have the power to accomplish anything. Even if her committee has the votes to get legislation to the floor, there are unlikely to be enough votes in Parliament to pass it. And of course it could still be rejected by the upper body (the House of Lords), vetoed by the Dictator, or struck down as unconstitutional by the dictator’s Council of Final Decisions, the highest law of the land from which there is no possible appeal. And if Lanova tries to subvert Parliament by carrying her appeals directly to the people, she would be removed from her committee chairmanship by her party’s leadership, she would no longer have subpoena power, and she would have to hold her hearings in a basement broom closet instead of in a grand committee hearing room. If she persisted, she might even be assassinated or “suicided.” But by then the dictator will have died or have been replaced with another dictator, and a new generation of idealists will be getting themselves arrested sitting in at Lanova’s office, trying to force her to fulfill her promises to do that which it is impossible to do by working within our bureaucratic system.
But these are things that we dare not think about. So we in Exxonia are overjoyed at Lanova’s decision to run for Parliament. We are sending her money, volunteering to work for her campaign, and those fortunate enough to live in her district will have the privilege of voting for her, whether or not their votes are actually counted. We are grateful that we live in a free country with a democratic Parliament, and that we have such patriots as Lanova to represent us.
Lanova Messiah for Parliament! Viva Lanova! Long live the democratic Republic of Exxonia!