EXCERPT: A More Perfect Union by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

CATEGORY: Power Strategies and Fact Manipulation

RULE 1776: A Real Genius Can Fool All the People, All the Time

SOURCE: Anonymous, advisor to William Lester, President, NAU

VIA: L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

Madness isn’t limited to the practitioners of hard science. Although the most infamous of crazed creations have sprung from the brains of scientists dabbling in physics, chemistry, or biotechnology, our next tale draws on a far more nefarious branch of intellect: political science.

Political scientists have a bit of a bad name. The lobbyists and analysts stalking the halls of the Senate and House are spurned by voters and legislators alike. Most people see them as manipulative schemers, twisting the power structure of the nation for their own benefit. For many, that scorn is probably underserved, but the unnamed narrator of our next story lives up to that reputation and then some. He has great plans for the people of the North American continent—plans so large, they will shake the entire world.

The author says that this story was inspired by the events that led to his becoming the legislative director for a U.S. Congressman and later political positions, and spending nearly twenty years in politics, government, and Washington, D.C. So he speaks from a lifetime of experience in the twisted webs of political scientists.

Which makes you wonder: Just how fictional is this story?

 

A More Perfect Union
by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

Too many historians claim all the geniuses were mad, especially the ones who understood politics as an engineer understands structures, or a scientist understands his specialty. The key is to understand their genius and not fall prey to the slurs on their abilities. How do you think Hitler and Goebbells captured the heart of Germany, or Lenin Russia, or Rasputin the Czar’s family, or Bush the younger and Cheney capitalist America, or Lester the North American Union or . . . ? The list is as long as history, and everyone dismisses each instance as an individual aberration, a political situation unique to that nation and time. And too many people focus on only the negative instances, unlike the positive examples, such as the American planters or development of the present-day NAU. But I digress. To understand how it all happened, it’s necessary to go back a few years . . .

 ***

I’d recently finished the last oral examinations on my dissertation from one of the very well-known universities of North America and been granted the relatively worthless Ph.D. in Political Science, despite the opposition of the most senior member of the PoliSci faculty. A “chance encounter” of a, shall we say, passionate nature, he had with a young lady acquaintance of mine removed that obstacle. Shortly after that fortunate resolution I first encountered William Lester.

As part of my research, I’d become a member of the Conservative Populist party, and even served as a ward committee-person for Plymouth — not Massachusetts, but another Plymouth. Being the ward’s titular head for the party was a position few wanted, especially when that year’s elections were only for local offices and for the regional representatives to the North American Union, then far more of a coordinating body than what it later became, thanks in large part to my highly successful and unacknowledged (as well as unappreciated) efforts.

On that Tuesday night in 2067, only a few handfuls of voters attended the ward caucus to be addressed by two of the candidates for the NAU Assembly. The first candidate was Johnstone Byron, III, the youngest son of the Byron family of ZipZap fame and fortune, and the second was one William Lester, barely five years older than I was at the time, but already working on his second billion. Lester was a perfect 198 centimeters, tall enough to stand out amid the rabble, but not tall enough to be thought a less-than-intelligent athlete. His father had been a builder who’d lost almost everything in the successive American financial meltdowns in the early part of the century, and Lester could claim to be a self-made man from his foresight in purchasing northern Saskatchewan marshes and swamplands before the acceleration of global warming created a land-run. He sold out before the subsequent crash, retaining some holdings in the event of the inevitable resurgence that would come with the next wave of global warming, when the last lingering benefits — and profits — of cap-and-trade were exhausted.

Lester’s voice was deep and mellifluous. His face was pleasant, with a touch of authority beyond the grown-up-boy-from-next-door image he cultivated, and his chin was just square enough to proclaim solidity, but not pigheadedness. His logic was impeccable when he addressed the thirty odd folks with little else to do on a Tuesday night . . . and that was the problem. While he understood finance, he clearly didn’t comprehend certain aspects of motivating people to tap the touchscreen next to his name in the voting booth. Part of that, I later learned, was because he’d always dealt with people who actually cared about the intricacies of systems such as politics and business, rather than, put politely, the general public.

So immediately after he finished speaking, I went out on the already half-sawed off and spruce-beetle killed limb. From that precarious perch, I addressed the handful of ConPoppers still in the multipurpose room of the west Plymouth Library. “My friends, we’ve heard from both of these fine candidates — the distinguished and noted scion of fame and fortune, the most highly educated and multiply-degreed, the honorable Johnstone Byron, the third — and the hard-working Bill Lester, who has made every new dollar the hard way with his own two hands. A round of applause for them both, before you make your way to the voting screens . . . ”

I did have the foresight to hide Lester’s Turnbull & Asser black cashmere overcoat so that he had to wait until everyone was lined up to vote — and so that no one saw it. That enabled me to lead him out to the foyer, where I offered him back his coat.

“Mr. Lester,” I said, because all politicians want to be the one to tell you to be less formal, rather than having you take that initiative, “I think I can help you.”

He didn’t tell me “no,” but he didn’t agree, either. He also didn’t tell me to call him “Bill.” That came later.

Even with my efforts, Lester only won the ward by nineteen to ten. He did win enough wards, if only by the application of a great deal of effort and tangible financial assets and, I have to admit, his own mellifluous voice to get on the ConPopper final slate for the election of delegates to represent the old northeast USA in the NAU.

I did more research before I attended the regional NAU convention, and, before the votes were taken at the convention, I cornered William Lester while he was talking to a sandy-haired and ruddy man dressed in a cranberry-maroon Harris Tweed jacket far too loud for the tastes of most ConPoppers, and a deep solid maroon tie that was too conservative, not that all ties were suspect to the bedrock ConPoppers.

Lester saw me coming, and he didn’t quite roll his eyes. “Why don’t you talk to Anderson, here? He’s my campaign manager. He’s the organization man.” Lester eased away graciously and charmingly. I have to admit that he did that well.

I smiled politely at Anderson LeBrun. He’d been the staff director for Senator Claxton until the Senator had lost his re-election bid after his links to the failed Northcoast Golf and Rugby Club had been revealed by his mistress. Then, it might have been that his mistress had been later revealed to be an transvestite, and Claxton had protested that he hadn’t known.

“Bill said that you rounded up a few votes for him in Plymouth,” offered LeBrun, “and gave a good pitch for him.”

“I’d like to think so, but he’s a very good speaker. I do think we could focus his speeches to be more effective.” I meant that I could, of course, but you always use “we” when trying to become part of an organization, however small.

“You’re one of those academic types.”

“No. I use academic and other research methods to gain the maximum positive emphasis for whomever I work for, and the maximum negative exposure for his opponent. That’s the polite way of putting it. Everything’s above board and clean in the dirtiest way possible with no fingerprints.”

“Oh?” LeBrun wiggled his bushy eyebrows. “What advantage would that provide, beyond fancy language?”

“Old-fashioned results with no legal fuss.”

“Why don’t you explain?”

[End Excerpt]