Lincoln Incarnate (2-4): The Interview

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Previously

Considered a relative unknown only a short while ago, Lincoln Incarnate’s supporters have nonetheless increased at a rate that is inversely proportional to the American public’s ever-shrinking confidence in government. Campaigning relentlessly on a Reformist platform, ‘Dark Horse Incarnate’ has swept through 13 states like wildfire, galvanizing both conservative and liberal voters alike with his message of fiscal and social responsibility, as well as his pledge to get money out of politics. Membership for Incarnate’s new ‘Citizen’s Party’ has likewise swelled to record numbers, due in no small part to the Incarnate staff’s masterful employment of social media.

After a long day on the campaign trail, the inexhaustible Mr. Incarnate sits down for a televised interview with a local news station, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…

“The Question”

REPORTER: “Mr. Incarnate, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.”

L.I: “My pleasure, Earl.”

REPORTER: “Sir, let me start by asking the obvious question- why do you want to be President?”

L.I: “I don’t.”

REPORTER: “I’m… sorry?”

L.I: “I don’t want to be the President. No one in their right mind could possibly want to do this job! Imagine an endeavor that requires a person to invite scrutiny into the intimate details of their life, and offer up every drawn breath for public consumption- relinquishing even the semblance of privacy- all while enduring attacks from any hack with a notebook or a recorder (present company excluded), and you may glean some understanding of what it is to run for President of these United States of America.”

REPORTER: “But sir, if you don’t mind my asking, then why-”

L.I: “Why run in the first place?”

REPORTER: “Yes, sir.”

L.I: “I suppose you could describe the decision to throw my hat in the ring as the will to act, born of a heady mixture of hubris, urgency, and a sense of patriotic obligation. Just as a fighter pilot must exhibit a certain measure of arrogance to be effective, a serious contender for the Presidency must know that he or she is the right person for the job.”

Money in Politics (Briefly)

REPORTER: “That’s an interesting comparison- fighter pilot and President of the United States- but why exactly do you feel so obligated? Are there any particular issues that you would seek to address, were you ever to gain office?”

L.I: “Yes, indeed. First and foremost, we have to break the stranglehold of money on government! Campaign finance reform means wrestling power away from lobbyists and special interest groups, and placing it back in the hands of democratically elected representatives, where it belongs. If the Incarnate administration is able to achieve no other goal save this, then it will have been time well spent. I’ve already made my feelings about the issue clear elsewhere (see: Lincoln Incarnate: The Speech), but suffice it to say that before we- as a nation- have successfully ended the reign of (and repaired the destruction wrought by) money in politics, no other real progress can be made. The American people have long demanded that we tear down this wall protecting the greed of corporate entities, and I intend to see it done.”

REPORTER: “Are you saying that you hope only to pass campaign finance reform as President?”

L.I: “Hardly. It will be the very first item on the agenda, however, and anyone who has a problem with that had better not vote for me.”

Fiscal Conservative & Social Liberal

REPORTER: “Let’s say for a moment that you are able to pass legislation that implements comprehensive election reforms: What would be your next focus?”

L.I: “I would seek to eliminate waste, redundancy, and inefficiency in government, while simultaneously strengthening essential social programs. Furthermore–”

REPORTER: “Hang on, sir!”

L.I: “–Hmmm?”

REPORTER: “Are you suggesting that you could somehow effect a reduction in the size of government, and at the same time expand federally funded social programs? That seems to fly in the face of the central conflict that has divided Republicans and Democrats for years!”

L.I: “It isn’t terribly complicated, if you take politics out of the equation.”

Reporter: “How so?”

L.I: “I think that most people intuitively understand, that there has long existed a capricious irresponsibility in the way that their tax dollars are put to use. For example, the inflated budget for defense could be significantly reduced- without sacrificing military readiness- in part by restricting the reciprocatory relationship between defense contractors and lawmakers (again, by addressing campaign finance reform), that has resulted in unnecessary largess. Similarly, the nation’s Welfare program needs to be overhauled in order to eliminate abuse, and discourage open-ended dependence. Another obvious area of concern is foreign spending- or more accurately, overspending. Moreover, our fundamental system of taxation needs to be updated (and simplified) at every level.

“These, and other similar issues, should have been confronted and rectified long ago, using basic common sense. That has not been the case, however, due to the fear of potential political fallout, combined with a desire for economic expediency. For too long have our lawmakers allowed themselves to be transformed into marionettes, who dance to the machinations of those who are outspoken and well-funded, yet ill-informed, to the detriment of us all.

“The underlying theme here is the stubborn refusal to employ logic to solve problems. When faced with a choice between doing the right thing when it is hard, and pandering to an interest group when it is easy, Americanus Politicianus will take the path of least resistance every time. We simply cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand any longer! The need for efficiency in how the peoples’ money is spent, and of how the government operates and sustains itself, must be addressed. A wonderful blueprint, sublime in it’s simplicity, has already been laid out for us, some two-hundred and seventy-five years past! It states that a government should, ‘… [P]rovide for the common defence, [and] promote the general welfare.’ Reasonable people ought to be able to carry out these directives without becoming distracted, and certainly without tripping over corporate checkbooks, partisan talking points, and skewed opinion polls.”

REPORTER: “What you are describing, sir, sounds almost Utopian by comparison. But, is it realistic to set the bar so high?”

L.I: “It is perfectly realistic to task responsible people with running the government responsibly. I know that we do not live in a perfect society, nor may we even be able to achieve one. However, that shouldn’t stop us from trying. We have an obligation to strive for the day when every person has a roof over their head, enough to eat, and access to quality education and healthcare. We should be able to protect ourselves from all enemies, foreign and domestic, without channeling an endless wave of extortion money to other nations, in the vain hope that they will consent to maintain the status quo. If the waste and inefficient expenditures mentioned above are corrected, combined with an updated and streamlined tax code- then no- it is not unrealistic to expect that every American’s basic needs could be addressed. Fiscal and social responsibility go hand-in-hand.”

REPORTER: “I think most people can get behind you on the need for something like a comprehensive Welfare overhaul, but haven’t lawmakers promised to address this- and other well known problems, like the need for reform in our system of taxation- for years, to little avail? Don’t misapprehend me! I wish you every success in tackling the tough issues. I just don’t intend to hold my breath. To be frank, sir: What makes your promises any different, following as you are on the heels of a stampeding herd of career politicians, who have made similar pledges for years, while navigating America’s well worn campaign trails?”

L.I: “I guess you’ll just have to trust me.”

REPORTER: “That’s a tall order, in light of your chosen profession, sir.”

L.I: “Isn’t it, though? But have a little faith, Earl- I’ll make a believer of you, yet!”

REPORTER: “Yes, well… Let’s move on, shall we?”

L.I: “Alright.”

Matters of Life and Death: Abortion; Capital Punishment; the Second Amendment; War

REPORTER: “Sir, up until now we’ve spoken in generalities, about problems that may be solved through the application of logic, and a strict adherence to sound management principles. Discussing governmental organization and operation are relatively straightforward, when compared to some of the more difficult social issues that we face. I would like to ask your views on a couple of these, if I may?

L.I: “Such as?”

REPORTER: “Well… What is your stance on abortion, for instance?”

L.I: “I think that the act of abortion is tragic, and betrays a contemptuous disregard for the miracle of the human experience. I further think that the true horror of this practice is compounded by the casual frequency with which it is carried out. That said, I realize that I am not in the best position to speak authoritatively on what a woman should- or should not- do with her body. Men don’t have to take on the enormous responsibility of caring for a life that grows inside of them for nine months, severely curtailing their lifestyles, only to culminate in an excruciatingly painful event when nature deems that life is ready to enter the world. I also understand that my reservations on this matter stem from a moral point of view, based on personal religious beliefs, and that a position held in government must not be used as a platform to impose such morals on the general populace. The pro-choice arguments that I have heard, that take into account the ethical ramifications of terminating a fetus that has passed a certain point of development, seem more appropriate to me from a legislative standpoint. Therefore, I would not seek to enact laws that restrict the termination of pregnancies in the first trimester, were I to be elected.

“Still, don’t mistake my deference to the (ethically responsible) pro-choice school of thought on this issue as an endorsement! Even though I appreciate that those who do not share my religious beliefs are under no obligation to acknowledge what amounts to little more than a fertilized egg as a human being, from a scientific standpoint; I nevertheless believe in the inherent potential of every individual. If I don’t support the death penalty, for criminals who have already made terrible choices, how could I support it for people who have never even been afforded the opportunity to make one?”

REPORTER: “You don’t support the death penalty?”

L.I: “No. I believe in redemption. I do not believe that we have the right to take away a person’s ability to seek redemption, if they so choose. We have an obligation to remove a menace to society from society, but not from the face of the earth (metaphorically speaking). We should always understand killing to be what it is: The ultimate failure of justice.”

REPORTER: “But what about the kind of situation where it is appropriate to kill? Say, in cases of self defense? In war? Surely you don’t believe that a person who shoots an intruder during a break-in, to protect themself or their family, is unjustified in doing so?”

L.I: “Outstanding! You have artfully managed to ask me a follow-up, while indirectly inquiring as to whether or not I support the Second Amendment. Well done, my fourth estate defending friend! But, allow me to answer your question(s)- spoken and otherwise: First of all, killing is never ‘appropriate.’ You make a choice, and then you live with it. Killing should never be easy to live with, in any event. While certain circumstances may, arguably, necessitate the use of lethal force, there are no ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ with guns. There are only people with guns, and the conscientious among us should be expected to exercise restraint when faced with the decision of whether or not to employ them. The crazed frenzy for firearms, the spaghetti western mentality, that so consumes certain elements within our society is unfortunate and misguided. While I don’t believe that legislators should attempt to dramatically restrict the sale of firearms to law abiding citizens, I do believe that the suggested- and entirely reasonable- measures for documenting who has what need to be quickly implemented, and that it ought not to be such a contentious and inflammatory issue. If a person wants to assemble an arms depot in his or her basement, I think we have the right to know about it. We may live in a free society, but anyone who owns guns has taken on the capability to wreak havoc- for guns serve no other purpose than to destroy. Therefore, a responsible citizen should feel obligated to declare as a known quantity. Anyone who objects to that is in actuality arguing for the ‘right’ to sow chaos- which is where we find ourselves now- and I tire of the overly dramatized mewling of such as these.”

“The same sense of reluctance, innately held by a responsible gun owner, should also inform the thinking of the Federal Government, when it is faced with the decision of whether or not to engage another nation in full-blown armed conflict. If a consensus is reached to pursue such a course of action, it should be done with the understanding that multiple failures on the part of our leaders have taken place, for the situation to have escalated to that point. Building upon the argument I have just made, there is no such thing as a ‘just war.’ There is only war, and the absence of war. It should go without saying that the absence of war is always preferable. Sadly, however, such is not the case in a society such as ours, afflicted as we are with chronic Cowboy-itis.”

REPORTER: “What about the second world war? Does a policy of non-involvement ring true in such an extreme case?”

L.I: “I believe that the global threat posed by the Nazis, the imperialist Japanese, and Mussolini’s Italy had reached the stage where military intervention seemed the only plausible course of action. However, I think that you have misunderstood my argument.”

REPORTER: “In what way?”

L.I: “Hmmm… Let me begin to answer by asking some rhetorical questions of my own: Specifically, what can be deduced about the state of the world in the adolescent years of the twentieth century, that a group such as the Nazis could seize control of an entire country? Consider the economic conditions in Germany post-1918, and the widespread climate of antisemitism plaguing Europe- and America- that contributed to their rise. What measures could have been taken to stem such a poisonous ideology before it had a chance to take root? Also, what was the relationship between the U.S. and Japan prior to December 7, 1941? Recall that in 1853, our government forcibly imposed itself into Japanese affairs under threat of violence. Our very first diplomatic exchange with the island nation was antagonistic. Was that hostile sentiment left to fester and grow until war seemed the only recourse?

“You asked whether or not the global political climate in 1941 justified a policy of non-involvement- as you interpreted my argument for the reluctant use of force as being inherently isolationist- but I never suggested as much. My feeling is merely that the threat of violence, which is so often employed in our government’s top-down style of foreign policy, is counterproductive. I believe that intelligent and ethically disposed American leaders should be able to co-exist with the leaders of other countries, without resorting to ultimatums and base threats at one extreme, and shameless bribery at the other. If it should ever come to pass that, despite the very best diplomacy of worthy individuals who deplore violence, war with another nation is still the only viable option- then so be it. However, such eventualities should be a deep source of embarrassment for everyone involved, as they represent a total breakdown of human reasoning, and a logarithmic increase in what I have already described as the ultimate failing of justice: Killing.”

Vote Incarnate!

REPORTER: “Well, Mr. Incarnate, it appears that we are short on time.”

L.I: “That we are, Earl.”

REPORTER: “I would just like to thank you for sitting down with me today, and for answering all of my questions directly. I can’t tell you how refreshing that’s been!”

L.I: “My pleasure.”

REPORTER: “I think this interview will give Americans a good idea of who you are, and of what you’re all about, but do you have any final thoughts before we conclude?”

L.I: “Thanks, Earl- and yes- I would like to make a brief statement, addressed to the American people, if time permits?”

REPORTER: “Please.”

L.I: “My fellow Citizens: ‘If you grant me the honor of making me your President, then I pledge to work tirelessly with you to solve our nation’s many problems. You won’t see me vacationing at Camp David for the holidays, or taking in a round of golf on Wednesday afternoons. You’ve heard the expression that a President spends eighteen months governing, and thirty campaigning? Well, I intend to give myself over, body and soul, to the service of this country, for four years. That’s: 1,460 days; 35,040 hours; 2,102,400 minutes; or 126,144,000 seconds that I will work to address the monumental problems that we face- or die trying.

“So remember, when you take to the polls this November: A vote cast for Lincoln Incarnate, is a vote cast for America!!”

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