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 much 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.
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.