Scene 34: The Televised Debate

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“Yes, that’s correct,” said Julian.  “People today simply do not appreciate how much dramatically higher all voters’ level of understanding is now... nor do they realize the kind of chaos that reigns when that understanding is lacking, as it was in my day—that is,” nodding to Green, “our day.”

Julian had been taking more and more interviews, and Philippe’s confidence in him had grown.  The invitations to appear alongside Victor Green of course came from every direction, but neither Julian nor Philippe had been in any rush.  The two of them role-played together for hours on end, anticipating Green’s rhetorical moves and countermoves.  Today was their first public encounter.  It was a major news show—not a formal debate per se, but highly anticipated, and live.

Green countered with characteristic smoothness and exaggerated politeness, “That is very true, and I’ve observed the same thing as my friend Julian.  Though, I’m not certain that means that we should shut out—”

Julian Vic interview

“If I may finish my thought...”  Julian interrupted.

“Please, of course!”

“And how easily people were swayed by demagogues, and negative political ads, and so on.  And so, what I’m saying is, it would be foolish and risky to stop that forward progress.  It’s easy to get distracted by arguments about ‘pure’ representation—or, as I’ve heard it called, ‘least-common-denominator’ representation—but all of us should instead see this Amendment as a step towards more enlightened government that serves everyone better.”

The news anchor jumped in to keep his hands on the reins, “Congressman Green, Mr. West makes an interesting point, that we’re all looking at the Amendment’s new approach to representation in an excessively short-term way, not observant of positive historical trends.  How do you respond?”

Green’s response mostly avoided the question, and the discussion pitched to and fro.  Green continued to hammer on the ‘disenfranchisement’ argument.  Julian of course was prepared, and made a show of embracing the issue—even going so far as lecturing Green and the anchor about the dignity of every citizen and that the legitimacy of government was at stake.

Green had prepared another angle of attack, though.  “Julian, I know you are, and have always been, concerned about the dignity of every voter.  But can I ask you this?  Suppose I am... someone who didn’t pass the test—let’s say, I don’t know, I am a policeman.  I care about—I want my voice to be heard.  What would you say to me, why am I allowed less say?  How do you explain it to me?”  Green affected a worried look on his face.

Julian recognized it as a ploy: Julian’s father had been a policeman.  But it caught him flat-footed.  He began by reiterating his argument about how government would be able to serve everyone better.  The news anchor, though, didn’t allow him to get away, and restated the question, concluding with “So, yes, I’m a policeman, what do you say to me?  You’re just—those are just words!  Why—please tell me—why does my voice matter less?”

Julian could not push the image of his father out of his head, and, to his own horror, he started to lose control.  He stumbled around almost incoherently in his response.  Deep down, he suddenly realized that he did not like the Amendment. His heart sank.

As did Philippe’s.  As did Florez’s.