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.