With Mellark, Summerfield, Oppenheim, and Oswald, Liberty comes back from the brink

In November, the Liberty Party headquarters was buzzing with activity. It was election day, and not one person on staff had a clue of how that night would go; all they knew is that they were desperately attempting to avoid an embarrassing first-round result in the face of Panem’s first runoff elections that would be inevitably held in December. Katniss Everdeen, then chair of the Liberty National Committee while serving as wife to the President, closely watched the screen as the results from the districts poured in.

The final three districts were called around two o’clock in the morning. Peeta Mellark and Rebecca Tarson won District 14 to no one’s surprise, while Julie Roydon and Matthias Christian of the Centre Party scored wins in District 15 and the Capitol. Everdeen grimaced at the Centre Party wins, which further cemented the fact that the party had suffered massive electoral blows that day. The Liberty ticket would be heading to a runoff; these wins simply determined their opponents.

Everdeen called her staff together to discuss the next course of action. The LibNC was prepared for a runoff as it was considered a fairly likely scenario in the last few weeks due to the tightening polls. Everdeen promptly put that plan into action before the President and Vice President spoke that night, intending to preempt the Jones and Christian campaigns.

In December, the plan barely worked. While Mellark and Tarson were reelected to a second term, Mellark barely won in a squeaker, and Tarson won due to the popular vote percentage in the scenario of an unlikely electoral tie. The two were sworn in on January 1st along with Congress, bringing a prompt reminder that Liberty was at its lowest point in years. The party had lost a majority in the House and was forced to seek a governing coalition with the Conservatives, something that appeared easy but in actuality was quite difficult to negotiate. Upon the inauguration of Mellark and Tarson to a second term, Everdeen presented her husband with her resignation as chair of the LibNC. She personally felt responsible for the severe losses incurred during the election cycle, and she felt that it was time for a change.

Following Everdeen’s resignation, the gears began to turn in the Capitol. The Liberty Party began to move in a new direction, rejecting the party’s previous image and qualities and reshaping into a more modern and competitive party.

After Everdeen, Mellark chose his Secretary of State, Celine Oswald, to lead the party’s top committee. Oswald had already notified the President she would not return as the top diplomat, but Mellark’s offer to chair the party intrigued the political heavyweight. While never a perfect campaigner, Oswald is undoubtedly skilled with political strategy and diplomacy, making her an ideal fit. This move was the first major move to reshape the party, as Oswald immediately scrapped the plans of Everdeen’s administration of the committee in favor of newer plans to rebrand Liberty as a party that was forward-thinking and representative of the common man.

Then came the changes in the House of Representatives. Constantin Richelieu triggered what may have been a generational change in Panem politics with his resignation as Speaker, causing a leadership election between majority leader Miranda O’Neal and young upstart Wes Summerfield. Despite the entrenched O’Neal being considered essentially Speaker-in-waiting, Summerfield convinced the members of the Liberty caucus that the way forward for their party was not through a rehashing of the same type of politics. Summerfield insisted to his colleagues that Richelieu and O’Neal were exactly what caused a crisis of confidence with Liberty and swing voters in the past election cycle and pledged to set forth a new agenda to determine exactly how to regain the party’s lost majority. Until then, he informed the members, he would seek a governing majority with the Conservatives that was stronger and more solvent than Richelieu’s failed coalition was. He accomplished this through providing the majority whip position to the Conservative leader, Kari Lyles, and through higher committee assignments for the Conservative members of the coalition. While the deal was not what many wished for, it certainly has ensured a working majority; Richelieu never achieved such a majority, which was the cause of his resignation.

The Senate changes came last and were deeply planned between Stonehaven and the Senate leadership. Michael Debroff, the majority leader, had already been planning his retirement from politics due to an illustrious career that spanned decades. His retirement was destined to trigger a competitive open election during the midterms that could have resulted in a gain for the Centre or Conservative Parties if the conditions were right. Furthermore, it would have caused a major Senate leadership shakeup right after the midterm elections. Instead of postponing the inevitable Senate leadership battle and to ensure that Liberty had the upper hand in the election for Debroff’s seat, Mellark decided to move Debroff to his Cabinet to the open position at the Department of International Trade. Debroff’s Senate credentials would provide no issue on his confirmation, and it would be the pinnacle of the senator’s lengthy career. It also provided a chance to keep the seat; Oswald cheered when the decision was made as the incumbency of Debroff’s replacement was sure to help in keeping the seat in a special election and in the midterms.

However, the vacancy for majority leader in the Senate caused an internal rift, which was beginning to seem fairly common for the Liberty Party in this era. Wendy Oppenheim stepped up almost immediately to run for the position, but Wesley Benson made it clear that he had intentions of governing the Senate. The two had been whipping votes in preparation for Debroff’s expected retirement, but following his ascension to the Cabinet, the whipping only intensified. The rift grew wider, and allies of Oppenheim and Benson quickly recognized the damage that the two could cause by being at odds with each other. As such, the two sides brokered an agreement; the two would essentially co-govern the Senate with Oppenheim as the official leader, while Benson would select nearly all of the remaining leadership.

Oswald and Mellark felt a sense of accomplishment in the new leadership. It was no secret that Mellark’s relationship with Richelieu was always cordial at best and that the former was always discontent with the lack of energy and the complacency of the old guard. By reforming the leadership in the legislative branch, the pair of political pros essentially cleared the path for a pro-Mellark Congressional agenda. Oswald was particularly pleased with the response that she was seeing from the polls taken following the changes. Overwhelmingly the Liberty Party electorate was pleased with the new leadership and with the Mellark administration’s agenda. The President’s approval ratings rose from a paltry 43 percent on inauguration day to 58 percent following the passage and signing of the ethics legislation that he championed. The generic congressional ballots indicated that voters were trending towards Liberty in the midterms, rather than away, for the first time in four years. In addition to these short term successes, Oswald also saw a future for the party past Mellark. The ever-consistent talk of the next executive elections now featured names that were not simply old news; voters were becoming accustomed to Wes Summerfield, Jacqueline Warner, Jacob Ellsworth, and Celeste Armstrong. For once, the Liberty Party didn’t seem to be in decline.

Will the party remain that way? There’s certainly no way to predict the fortunes of a political party. Future missteps could endanger the Liberty Party further, but at the current moment, the party seems well positioned for the upcoming midterms. It’s clear to see that the rebranding of the party has worked masterfully; the voters believe the changes are real and palpable, and certainly a new leadership of the party has emerged at the behest of Mellark and Oswald. While the old guard was clearly successful in its day, that day has passed and the voters responded as such. With the new, young leadership of the party, voters seem to be willing to give Liberty a second chance- one that, if capitalized on correctly, will restore their majority in the House and ensure that the next election will be Liberty’s to lose, regardless of who runs.

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A New Generation of Panem Politicians Emerges

Over the last two years, Panem’s political landscape experienced a massive changing of the guard. The first phase began with the midterm elections during President Peeta Mellark’s first term. The second phase was the presidential and vice presidential elections a few months ago. Phase three, however, is still underway.

Voters for nearly fifteen years became accustomed to seeing the same faces over and over again. The first regularly held presidential election featured three of Panem’s political giants: then-President Cecelia Paylor; then-Governor of District 13 Celine Oswald; and of course, future President Katniss Everdeen, who would go on to win that election. These three women have been at the forefront of Panem’s political scene since Panem’s democratic journey began twenty-six years ago. Paylor served as President, Attorney General, Secretary of Intelligence, National Security Advisor, and the Civic Party’s nominee for president in three presidential elections. Oswald served many years as Secretary of State under three presidents, as Vice President under Everdeen, and was the Liberty Party’s nominee for president. She now will serve as the Chair of the Liberty National Committee. Everdeen also has a long resume as well; she was a war hero prior to the election, served two terms as Panem’s president, served as Secretary-General of the Council of Nations, was Chair of the Liberty National Committee, and now serves as First Lady of Panem.

Of these three, only two remain in the public eye. Even then, they are taking a backseat in electoral politics and governance of the nation. The same fate has occurred with many electoral and appointed staples of Panem’s government: Haymitch Abernathy, Rick Canth, Walter Delta, Felicia Ren, Samuel Trenton, Kurtis Pierce, Thomas Stemp, Ophelie Murray, Walter Singleton, and others. Instead, Panem is beginning to see the start of a new generation of leaders.

This started in all honesty during the midterm election of President Mellark’s first term. President Mellark and Vice President Tarson brought about the very beginning of this changing of the guard when they bested political giants like Jonathan Madison, Celine Oswald, and others for their party’s nominations for President and Vice President.

Their rise was unexpected, and despite Peeta Mellark being a well-known figure in Panem, his electoral status was brand-new, just like his running mate. The midterms built on this; it introduced new figures, some of which have gone on to revolutionize the political scene. The Liberty Party gained new faces, or at least propelled some to prominence, like Senator Jacob Ellsworth (D3), Senator Antonio Wallace (D4), Governor Serena Ross (D5), Governor Layla Folsom (D8), and Senator Wesley Benson (Capitol). In the Labor Party, Senators Cedric Wallace (D8) and Lindsey Richards (D10) emerged, and for the first time, Centre Party members were elected to the Senate with Senators Julie Roydon (Capitol), Joseph Garrett (D15), and Clarke Randall (D9).

This movement only escalated as the race to occupy Stonehaven accelerated. Clear choices were made by the electorate during the primary contests of each party, each time deciding to usher in a new era of politicians as the nominees of the three opposition parties that had previously contested elections. Instead of rehashing their losses, Felicia Ren and Cecelia Paylor stepped aside to allow the Labor and Civic Parties to choose new nominees. Rather than nominate a former VP nominee or former contenders in past elections, such as Samuel Trenton, Kurtis Pierce, Walter Delta, or Robert F. Maxwell, voters decided candidates like Kaitlyn Jones, Iris Canstrom, and Patrick Newsom were far more appealing. The same applied to the vice presidential elections; instead of selecting Thomas Stemp, Lynn Germaine, or Ophelie Murray, we saw the rise of candidates like Delia Sutherland or Teraton Wendle. (Wendle did not win his nomination, however, as we will note in the next paragraph.)

The conventions wrapped up the second phase, cementing the elevation of this newer generation. The Liberty National Convention specifically put their rising stars in the spotlight; Rosalie and Valère Descoteaux, Jacob Ellsworth, Wesley Benson, and Jacqueline Warner skyrocketed to the peak of national prominence due to their addresses at the convention. Labor’s convention chose a different route; specifically, the convention pushed Senator Jace Walters (D10) to the forefront of the political scene as the party’s VP nominee. Civic and Centre threw two new faces into the spotlight with their VP nominations: Senator Quentin Kennedy (D6) and Representative Matthias Christian (D10). 

The third phase began on election day this past November, and it encompasses the vast majority of what changes have occurred. First, the Conservative and Centre Parties received new leaders in Governors Cooper McPharlin (Conservative-D1), Donald Beck (Centre-D6), Glenn Beckham (Conservative-D7), and Dillan Christian (Centre-D10). The Centre and Conservative Parties expanded their ranks in the House, resulting in a House with no majority. Second, President Mellark and Vice President Tarson were reelected, and upon that note, key figures began retirement. The result of these retirements has been the elevation of fresh faces. Senator Valère Descoteaux became Secretary of Defense; Governor Lynnette Cortez became Secretary of Energy; Governor Mason Wallace was elevated to Secretary of Homeland Security; former D5 Lieutenant Governor Sextimus Dalton became the Secretary of Transportation. As such, these ascensions to the Cabinet have resulted in Governors Harriet Myers (D12), Marshall Risinger (D15), and Senator Nicolette Lémieux (D14). These sorts of changes have continued with the workings of the second Mellark government. With the rise of Panem’s space program, we have seen the prominence of Lucille Tallow, who previously was a backbench Conservative representative.

Most of all, we have seen such changes as when the leadership in the House of Representatives collapsed. Constantin Richelieu resigned as Speaker, resulting in a race for his position that was a clear choice between the old and the new. Majority Leader Miranda O’Neal faced off against firebrand backbencher Wes Summerfield for Richelieu’s spot, resulting in a choice of the new over the old, with Summerfield now one of the most prominent Liberty politicians in Panem. He is also flanked by the newly-minted Majority Leader Brooklyn Howard, who succeeded O’Neal after she declined to run after her defeat for the Speakership.

These new faces are the faces we will see for the next fifteen years, ladies and gentlemen. The era of Oswald and Paylor is effectively over. Undoubtedly that era’s impact will be felt for as long as this nation stands; however, Panem has entered what can only be construed as a brand-new era. Liberty is not solely dominating Panem politics any longer. The building of our new democracy and its traditions has been completed over the last quarter of a century. It’s now time to consider where this country will go from here, and who from this new generation will lead it after President Mellark leaves office. Will Wes Summerfield or Cooper McPharlin be the next President of Panem? Will Kaitlyn Jones and Patrick Newsom run again or find another way to impact Panem politics? These are the questions that we must ask now. It’s time to consider them.

The Election Mellark Never Wanted

The Presidential Nominees, clockwise from top left: President Peeta Mellark (Liberty Party), Senator Julie Roydon (Centre Party), former Governor Kaitlyn Jones (Conservative Party), Senator Iris Canstrom (Labor Party), and Senator Patrick Newsom (Civic Party).

President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12) had a particular set of names that he wanted to see emerge victorious in the opposition primaries a week ago. Specifically, those names would be former Secretary Samuel Trenton as the Civic nominee, Representative Sylvenia Denton as the Labor nominee (or at least former Secretary Walter Delta), and businessman Robert F. Maxwell as the Conservative nominee. The more candidates from his list to win, the higher the President’s reelection chances rose.

Not one hand fell in his favor.

Instead, the President now faces what is likely to be the closest election of our lifetime. We now have a five-way race for president: Mellark vs. Canstrom vs. Newsom vs. Jones vs. Roydon. Each candidate is particularly remarkable and exceptionally strong; each party, against the odds, has fielded a candidate that could conceivably win.

In the Civic Party’s first competitive primary, voters have selected Patrick Newsom, the firebrand senior senator from District 3. He stunningly defeated Samuel Trenton, the former VP nominee and establishment candidate in a fashion that could only be described as a wipeout. Telegenic, an excellent debater, and known for never equivocating on his progressive values, Newsom’s future as a candidate now depends on ensuring that Samuel Trenton’s wing of the party, along with former President Cecelia Paylor, decide to vote for him in the general election after a destructive primary that determined the future of the Civic Party. Furthermore, his trailblazing attitude is attractive to some, but not to all. A docile VP pick may set worries to rest for many who dislike him.

The Labor Party surprisingly produced Senator Iris Canstrom as their pick for president. Canstrom, the current Labor leader in the Senate, ran as a reformer for both the Labor Party and for the nation. Since her campaign announcement, Canstrom has been viewed as the underdog, and yet she managed to dispatch longtime Labor heavyweights Joan Kindred and Walter Delta in the primary. Her path to victory lies with convincing centrist and Civic voters to come her way; which group she decides to woo will likely be determined by which VP candidate wins the nomination at the Labor National Convention in June.

From the Conservative Party comes former Governor Kaitlyn Jones of District 11. Jones snatched the reins of the Conservative Party when former Secretary Kurtis Pierce and businessman Robert F. Maxwell were too busy bickering over minor debate details, sweeping the primaries and leaving only 600 delegates between her two competitors. Like Canstrom and Newsom, Jones was viewed as a political novice in national politics as analysts insisted that Pierce or Maxwell was most likely to finally take the nomination that they longed for. Jones is complemented by her running mate, former Secretary Delia Sutherland, who adds foreign policy experience from the time that she served in the Presidential Cabinet as Secretary of Intelligence. The ticket is well balanced in terms of Conservative voters; Maxwell voters like Jones’s style, while Pierce voters appreciate the complementary presence of Sutherland. Jones’s path to the White House lies in convincing Liberty and Centre voters that President Mellark isn’t doing enough to reform the nation and that he has spent too much time at war and not enough time at home.

Finally, there’s the Centre Party’s Julie Roydon. A senator sworn in only two years ago, Roydon is articulate and challenging, stubborn and bold. She’s been at the forefront of the Senate’s most brutal and high profile battles, only second in notoriety to her colleague Senator Clarke Randall. Roydon was unopposed in her run for the Centre nomination and will be able to select her own VP nominee as well. Her path to victory has significantly increased over the past week; with more candidates, there’s more vote splitting. As long as Roydon and her running mate can keep her voters committed and turning out, along with collecting unhappy Liberty, Conservative, Labor, and Civic voters, she may be able to build a ragtag coalition that will manage to put her in the White House.

The biggest obstacle to every candidate, however, is the Electoral College. In recent years, opposition parties have pushed for the abolition of the entity, stating that it is stacked in favor of the Liberty Party, but those cries were largely hushed with the election of President Rick Canth, a Conservative. With five strong candidates of different political stripes, it’s hard to predict (minus a few districts, of course) how the vote will break down in the EC. There’s a real possibility that the Electoral Reform Act may come into play for the first time. For those who don’t recall, the ERA was passed under President Canth following his election as president, where Canth was elected by the House of Representatives following losing the EC vote to Celine Oswald. This act removes the House from the EC equation, stating that in the event no candidate hits the needed number of electors to be elected president, the election will go to a second round with the two candidates that received the most EC votes. Voters will then vote in the runoff election, and whoever receives fifty percent of the electoral votes will, of course, win the election.

In this case, it’s not hard to see how President Mellark could find himself on the losing side. Even if he manages to make it to a second round, he could find that the voters of the other candidates choose to vote for his second round opponent. Likewise, the voters could turn on his opponent in favor of him.

There’s only one way to describe this election now: too close to call.

 

Real competition? Mellark faces potentially potent candidates in race for reelection

President Peeta Mellark (Liberty-D12) may have began his reelection campaign at the tip-top of the polls, looking like he might coast to reelection in the same way as his first run, but now the President faces a potentially different scenario.

President Mellark, while still remaining popular, is now officially facing a distinct possibility that three popular major candidates will rise from the primary battles waged in Panem’s opposition parties.

Currently the Centre nomination is set to go to Senator Julie Roydon, who has made a name for herself since her election in the previous midterms and proving that she is no political lightweight. Her crowds are regularly that of around 6,000 people at least, showing large support. Roydon consistently has polled highly in presidential polling, typically ranking second to the President.

In the Civic primary, Senator Patrick Newsom has risen to the top of the polls lately after his landmark debate performance against opponent Samuel Trenton. Newsom, to many Civic voters, represents a more activist wing of the party that has typically been pushed aside in favor of the more centrist establishment. Newsom has also been noted for his grassroots support. At this early point, it’s hard to tell if Newsom will be the nominee, but if the campaign continues like it has, it’s likely that Newsom will be able to pose a real threat to the President in a general election.

Last, but certainly not least, is former Governor Kaitlyn Jones. Known for her tenure as the last remaining Conservative governor in Panem, Jones was swept out on an anti-Conservative wave that even her popularity in her district could not save her from. However, Jones unexpectedly declared a run for president this year, despite most analysts predicting that at most she would run for vice president. More unexpected is the amount of support that Jones would garner in a general election. While she currently is third in Conservative primary polling, Jones polls higher in general election polling than her two rivals, typically even edging out Newsom and Roydon when included. This is likely due to her anonymity and due to her campaign to rebrand the party. Voters tend to associate the party with her rivals (Robert F. Maxwell and Kurtis Pierce) and both do not poll well due to their own scandals and relationship to disgraced former President Rick Canth.

However, a true nightmare scenario for President Mellark is if all three of these candidates managed to make it to a general election. True, the president is popular. However, the military intervention in Greece is causing a major dip in his approval numbers, decreasing them by the day. Panem voters when polled have indicated less and less support for the intervention as time has continued, and it’s highly unlikely that Mellark will be able to sustain a massive level of popularity for much longer, especially if the intervention lasts until election day. This is why this scenario is considered dangerous for the President: falling approval ratings along with the three strongest possible candidates could result in a nearly tied election as four candidates take around 20-25% of the vote each, along with potential for spoiler candidates from the Labor Party and independent candidates. In that case, it’s anyone’s guess who the president of Panem will be at the end of the day- and if the current President survives reelection.

However, the likelihood of such a nightmare scenario would be pretty low as of today. Just one part of the conditions that would cause it not occurring (say, Mellark pulls the troops out of Greece sooner rather than later) would likely result in a greater chance of a Mellark reelection, particularly if Jones or Newsom (or both!) lose their nomination fights.

A Second Term

President Peeta MellarkThe President of Panem, Peeta Mellark (Liberty Party-District 12) is only a year and four months into his term as president. However, he’s already accomplished more in a year and a third than the disgraced and incarcerated Rick Canth did while he was president before him.

Which brings us to the questions that everyone is longing to ask, only to be halted because of the antiquated rule of “Thou shalt not speak of presidential elections until after the midterms:” Will Peeta Mellark see reelection, and is he destined to win reelection?

Of course, presidential elections are notoriously hard to predict. Hardly anyone predicted the election of Rick Canth in the House of Representatives, and likewise many did not believe that his fall would be so titanic. Elections that seem to be a runaway win for a candidate a year or two out can easily transform into close elections (see Everdeen Pt. 2) and ones that seem to be on razor-edge at the beginning can turn into massive landslides (see Mellark’s election/Canth’s defeat).

However, something must be said for the fresh and new President of Panem. Peeta Mellark is no fool; he did not rise as quickly as he did just to fall as quickly as he started. Mellark has strategically risen following the failure of Celine Oswald to win the presidency. Mellark, then the First Gentleman of Panem, plotted the beginnings of his political career in District 12, where the climate would be more friendly. The people of District 12 are in complete adoration of the Everdeen-Mellark family and all those associated with it. It is no surprise to see the success of Rebecca Tarson’s districtwide career when one factors in her friendship with the First Couple. As such, when Peeta Mellark became interested in the open Senate seat in District 12, the field cleared for him and he began his first foray into the world of politics. His success was due to a strong party structure, name recognition, and a large rolodex assembled by his wife’s previous campaigns for public office. Peeta Mellark won the Senate seat, becoming the new Senator-elect, and immediately got to work.

Mellark’s ascent in the Senate was as quick as his ascent in the political structure of District 12. His talent for public speaking and private conversation proved useful in the quick-moving Capitol, ensuring the passage of multiple key pieces of legislation. Mellark made history with his oratorical skills, delivering a twenty-nine hour filibuster on the use of District 12’s funds on the creation of the new Capitol that now holds the record for longest filibuster. His reputation became one of a leader on Capitol Hill, even as he did not hold a leadership role in the Senate. However, that changed when the majority leader, Michael Debroff (Liberty Party-District 13), sat him down in his office one day. Debroff was looking to make a change in leadership and had dismissed his Majority Whip only a week prior for insubordination. The majority leader offered this position to the new Senator from District 12, elevating a freshman to the number two position in Senate leadership.

Mellark’s reputation as a straight-shooter is well-documented. As Whip, Mellark kept the Liberty Party conference in line while taking over as Majority Leader when Debroff was unavailable. He was known for his no-nonsense attitude and efficient decisions. In one incident, Mellark began Senate proceedings on the hour as promised. Ten senators were missing and nearly missed the vote on a contentious funding bill and were not pleased- but Mellark all the same governed on a schedule. Be there, do your job, do it well, and do it on time.

His time in the Senate put him on a pedestal as a potential nominee for higher office. Following the defeat of Celine Oswald, the Liberty Party was in disarray on every level. The Liberty National Committee chair, Vance Irsine, insisted that his plan for the party was the correct plan- no other way would do. Oswald was defeated under him, and the largest movement against Liberty rule occurred in the midterms under President Canth. When it came time for the next presidential election, the field was wide open. It was supposed to be the time for Amy Oaksmith, the former runner-up to Oswald, to get to be the nominee. Some said Oswald should get another shot. Some said Descoteaux. However, all eyes turned to the junior Senator from District 12, only four years into his term, in order to see how he would play his hand.

Mellark played a royal flush. He declared his run for president to the surprise of LibNC officials who had urged him to remain out of the race in order to build prestige in the Senate. Forever undaunted, Mellark pushed through several debates, taking heated attacks on his image, particularly on his independence from his wife and on his inexperience. However, when it came down to it, Senator Mellark would win the nomination against four other high-profile opponents and would begin his general election campaign with his new running mate and dear friend: Governor Rebecca Tarson of District 12, who pulled off an upset of her own for her nomination. The general election campaign was the most bruising in history, but blows were glancing for the Liberty ticket: even when things seemed roughest for Mellark and Tarson, the ticket endured and always came out on top. In the end, the ticket would coast to the largest electoral and popular vote landslide in history, surpassing that of former President Katniss Everdeen, the wife of the new President.

Upon his inauguration, President Mellark noted in a candid interview that he had very little room for error. “After the damage that the last administration performed to our country, the people of Panem are looking for change. That’s what I’ve been elected to give to them, and if I don’t do that, I’ll pack my bags myself and leave. This country needs a change. That’s what my administration is going to do.”

That change has come. Even if you ask the Red-Green Coalition, the new opposition coalition between the Labor and Civic Parties which also serves as the President’s staunchest critics, the President has enacted change. For Liberty members, this change is exactly up their alley. For the left wing, not so much. The President has presided over tax and economic reforms; over a successful push for a better education system; and most recently, over the successful defeat of the Oceanian Empire. It’s hard to argue that the country is ascending instead of declining- just ask anyone how their personal economic outlook is and they will note that things have changed.

Of course it seems clear that the President would seek reelection. He’s young. He’s been successful thus far. And there’s no doubt of his popularity, which has swelled to nearly ninety percent following the success of the war in Oceania. All odds for now seem to be on Peeta Mellark running for reelection. Our second question, however, is who could possibly stand a chance? The other parties of Panem have significant issues with national elections. Frankly, it has become clear that the Panem public is not interested in electing Cecelia Paylor president once more after her first and only term. People are not excited for Felicia Ren despite her known quantity with Panem citizens. The Conservatives are almost to the point of extinction following the embarrassment known as the Canth family and the electoral massacre that occurred as a result of their familial run. So, who’s even remotely close to pulling a couple of votes away from the President?

One particular option is Panem’s newest political party. The Centre Party has not engaged in a national election as of yet, but following their massive success on the Congressional level and their major push into districtwide elections for the upcoming midterms, it’s highly probable that a Centre nominee for president and vice president will emerge. The viability of such a candidate is uncertain- centrists have not been a true force in Panem politics, at least not as a political party or movement. If a nominee is fielded, however, it would be good for a test run to run against Mellark.

The other option lies with Elizabeth Steinbeck and Pauline Crystal. The Steinbeck/Crystal ticket overperformed on election day, pulling into second in both the electoral and popular vote counts. Steinbeck’s previous run for the presidency was not as successful; she did not manage to get a single district win and did not break single digits. This past election was different: the country was looking for a change, and the populism championed by Steinbeck rang true for at least twenty-three percent of Panem citizens. It’s entirely possible that Steinbeck and/or Crystal runs again; Steinbeck has a way with reversing loyalties and promises and Crystal has nothing preventing a run. However, Steinbeck appears to be completely onboard with the President and his administration, especially when one notes that she passed over an opportunity to run against her archnemesis, Felicia Ren, again in District 8.

Regardless of the candidates, it appears (from less than three years out) that President Peeta Mellark will be president on that cold Inauguration Day. For now, no one quite holds a candle.

On His Way Out

President Rick Canth is leaving the Capitol less regarded than when he came here for the first time as a Senator. He was viewed as the future of the Labor Party, at that point; even though he was Canth Impeachmentmuch more conservative-leaning at the time, the District 7 senator was viewed as a potential presidential or VP nominee on the grounds that the party in most people’s minds needed to move to the right to survive. They were right. Canth emerged as a consensus presidential nominee not long after he became senator, and he led Labor to to its largest gains in years. However, he soon became disenchanted with the leadership of the Labor Party, stating that “they wanted me to move to the left…that’s not me. That’s not what I believe.” He left the party in dire straits, leaving Labor to explain the exit of their most recent nominee for president. He called himself an independent in the meantime, and he was nominated and confirmed by the Panem Senate to serve in the Everdeen administration to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

During this time in the Capitol was when then-Secretary Canth decided to found a party to represent his viewpoint. Labor was too far left, hence why he left, as was the Civic Party. The Liberty Party was too obsessed with foreign affairs to fit his political views. He decided instead to form the Conservative Party. When the Secretary of the Interior found that President Everdeen was stepping away instead of running for reelection once more, he announced his candidacy straight away for the presidency of Panem.

His second run for president was no more realistic than his first one. An opposition candidate for president had never been realistically close to the presidency, but that didn’t hamper Canth’s political ambitions. He plunged straight into his campaign with the full intent of becoming the first president who was of a party other than the Liberty Party and the first elected president who was male. And for most of the time, all hope seemed lost. He was well-known and well-regarded, which allowed for him to rise above mediocre nominees of the Labor and Civic Parties, but it hardly made for a winning campaign. However, his performance in the debates made him competitive, just as it did the last election. This time, however, things were different.

The election came down to District 7, the home district of Secretary Canth and Liberty Governor Amy Oaksmith, who was votes away from being Canth’s main competition herself. The race was neck and neck as the night went on. The vice presidential race had already concluded, with a decisive win for Governor Dale Wilson of District 4, a Liberty Party member. However, Vice President Celine Oswald was simply unable to seal the deal. The night was clearly going well for Canth, but he desperately needed District 7. Lucky for him, the results came in for him, but barely; an automatic recount determined the next morning that the Vice President had actually won the district. Canth automatically pushed for a second manual recount, which encountered major pushback from the Vice President’s campaign. The Supreme Court ruled in Canth’s favor, however, allowing for a secondary recount that ended up turning out in his favor. The election would go to the House for the first time in history.

The rush to win the House election began immediately. The Liberty Party was in full crisis mode as they scrambled to ensure that their representatives kept the party line to ensure a victory for the Vice President. It all went wrong for Liberty when Labor decided to give their votes to their former nominee- the beginning of a long night for Oswald. Canth’s team was quite pleased when the Liberty Party Speaker of the House of Representatives, Constantin Richelieu, told the representatives to vote their conscience, not on party lines, in the vote. Oswald’s team, on the other hand, was furious. Ultimately, 46 of the 100 total Liberty representatives in the House broke with the party line, voting for Secretary Canth. This gave him a majority, electing him the first male and opposition party President of Panem.

Tensions were high in the first days of the Canth administration. Considering how Canth got into office, everyone was waiting for the first slip-up. Canth’s approval ratings were already middling, skipping the obligatory honeymoon phase experienced by most presidents. It of course did not help when it was revealed that two representatives, both Liberty Party members, were bribed in exchange for their votes for Canth. A Congressional panel was convened along with a federal investigation, both of which found that the new President did not have anything to do with the bribes but that it was highly likely he was elected illegally.  His numbers tanked rapidly, with approvals reaching as low as 22%. This was the lowest of any post-Revolution president, even Cecelia Paylor.

However, Canth rebounded. He found his way back up through bills combating crime in Panem and through his cooperation with Liberty to increase funding for space technology. His approvals rose to the standard 49-50%, typical for a Panem president halfway through their first term. In the midterms, the Conservative Party defied political gravity as they rose to the second largest party in the Panem Congress after being largely nonexistent before. However, then came the Archibald Center attacks. 100,000 people dead, thanks to the Oceanian Empire. At the time of the attacks, Canth was in District 7 at the time championing an education bill at an elementary school. Very quickly he drafted an address to the nation to confront this new terrorist threat, turning an education speech into one of national security.  His response was later characterized as “sloppy” and “impeachable” by his political adversaries. Once again, his approval among the citizens of Panem dropped steeply.

President Rick Canth (Conservative-D7) at a charity benefit in District 9. The embattled President of Panem is the first from a party other than Liberty and the first male president. Canth faces a long road to reelection in November.And yet, he decided to run again. President Canth announced his third run for the presidency, and it seemed like last time around that
he would be unopposed. Then came along Robert F. Maxwell: a billionaire businessman with nothing to lose. A bruising primary ensued, dividing the Conservative Party into the Canth and Maxwell factions. The primary ultimately ended up on the floor of the
convention hall as the candidates’ surrogates fought for dominance. Ultimately, President Canth and his brother, Representative Jackson Canth, were nominated for president and vice president respectively, despite the fact that Maxwell and Lynn Germaine were set to be nominated. As a result, the two opponents filed as independent candidates to face the Canths once again in the general election.

For a while, everything ran smoothly. Though the President wasn’t wildly popular, he was liked enough to stand a decent chance of reelection. He hovered between second and third in the polls, depending on how Maxwell was doing that day. He fended off all attacks that came his way, despite his tarnished record. In a stroke of bad luck though came the recession. It hit hard, and it hit fast. The report that announced its arrival was the death knell for the Canth campaign. They dropped to near zero in the polls and were unable to revive their bid following that. Their opponents hammered them time after time, insisting that the Canths had failed Panem. As if it couldn’t get any worse, then came the hacks. Sure, Maxwell’s campaign was hit first, throwing all confidence in him into a political wastebasket, but the presidential hack was infinitely worse. It revealed that not only was the Capitol vulnerable, it was corrupt. The President’s office was allowing access depending on a price. He was unable to ensure the safety of classified information. And of course, he happened to be directly involved in a massive cover-up of electoral fraud, as did his brother and his chief of staff. It ensured that the President would not get reelected even if it were possible, and on election day, Senator Peeta Mellark, the husband of former President Katniss Everdeen, was swept into office on the largest Liberty wave election in history.

Which brings us here to the impeachment. The House had zero issue ensuring a bipartisan vote to impeach Canth. In fact, the bill was expedited through the House. Now, Canth faces the Senate virtually alone. Following the revelations of electoral fraud, the joint Liberty/Conservative senatorial deal fell through, ending any chance of mercy among his former Senate colleagues. It now poses a major question:

How will the President leave? Will he leave by the process of impeachment, putting him in jail and ceding power to Vice President Dale Wilson, a Liberty member? Will he resign his office, preserving the integrity of his reputation and the office, also leaving Wilson president? Or will a miracle occur, allowing Canth to win over the Senate and remain President for the little time he has left?

That’s the real question. And that’s the story of the President who will go down in history as many firsts: first elected male president, first opposition party president, first bipartisan administration, first president elected by the House and without a majority of the popular and electoral vote, first president to be federally investigated, and the first president to be impeached.

 

EDITORIAL: Presidential field and bill brings unexpected competition to Canth’s reelection campaign

EDITORIAL: By any account, an incumbent president is normally supposed to have an edge when he or she comes up for reelection. However, for President Rick Canth (Conservative-D7), reelection is slated to be a hard-fought contest, and at the moment very few analysts are predicting that he will win.

The President announced his reelection campaign recently, stating that he wasn’t done conveying the vision of the Conservative Party for Panem. However, while voters have begun to back the Conservative Party in the House, Senate, and in certain district governments, polls indicate that the presidency may not belong to the party come this next November. Canth is incredibly embattled by the events of his term, particularly by the electoral scandal that rocked Panem politics where it was revealed that the House vote that elected the President last election was affected by bribery, likely illegally propelling President Canth to the Capitol. His approvals nationwide are low, sitting in the upper 30s and lower 40s. Matchups against contenders from the Liberty Party have proven to be hypothetical blowouts with all contenders, even first-term Senator Peeta Mellark and Governor Gale Hawthorne, who is considered unelectable. This has left many in the Conservative Party to find another candidate in a last-ditch attempt to save themselves. Many were approached, and none have surfaced. However, a movement around Secretary of Intelligence Lynn Germaine has gained the most attention, though Germaine has not signaled any sort of interest.

Away from the Conservatives, primaries are set to be fierce in the Liberty Party. While other parties are fairly resolved in who their nominees will be for president, Liberty is chaos incarnate. By all means, Secretary Celine Oswald should have the upper hand. After all, she is polling incredibly well in all general election scenarios and was previously the presidential nominee. However, the former VP is being challenged by the new VP, Dale Wilson, of whom she ran with last election. Vice President Wilson is currently considered to be Liberty’s party leader as he is the highest-ranking Liberty official in Panem’s government. Also in the contest for the nomination are Senator Peeta Mellark and likely also Governor Gale Hawthorne and Governor Rosalie Descoteaux. Wild card candidates include Secretary Jonathan Madison and Governor Amy Oaksmith, the previous runner-up in the last primary. It’s literally a toss-up of epic proportions for this nomination.

In the Labor Party, recently reelected Governor Felicia Ren of District 8 made a splash by defeating then-Governor Elizabeth Steinbeck in a comeback bid. She’s since launched another bid for president, seizing on her political capital as the party’s previous presidential nominee. The party has cleared the way for her, and while other contenders have not announced their intentions, it appears that Ren will not have a true competitor.

In the Civic Party, it’s almost assured that Secretary Cecelia Paylor will make yet another quixotic bid to reclaim her former office as president. No news here.

However, even with Liberty’s chaos and the consistency of Panem’s other party nominations, the true wild-card of the election this time around isn’t a person. It’s a bill heading through the Panem Congress. Following the electoral catastrophe of the last election, Representative Constantin Richelieu (Liberty-D14) introduced the Electoral Reform Amendment to reform Panem’s electoral system. The bill would bring forward a constitutional amendment that would amend the electoral system to perform a runoff system. The Electoral College would remain in place, but should there not be one candidate with a majority at the end of the contest, the top two contenders would advance to a second round where Panem citizens would choose between the two. Whoever receives the top amount of electoral votes in that competition would win the presidency. In the event of an Electoral College tie, the popular vote winner would win the presidency (this scenario, however, is considered to be unlikely.)