“Alright, before we begin,” Barry said. “Governor Jamie, would you stand for me, please?”
“Would you be willing to pull off your shirt and show us your breasts?”
Jamie’s eyes widened, but she blinked. “No, sir. I would not.”
“Because, it’s just wrong.”
“I’m not disagreeing with you, but why is it wrong to see you naked?”
“Because,” she paused, thinking. “These aren’t for other people to see.”
“Except your husband?”
“Yes,” she shifted, feeling self conscious.
“So your husband, a man who has proven his trustworthiness and his love for you, is permitted to see you nude?”
“Alright,” Barry turned, glancing at others. “That’s pretty fair. Actually, that’s not fair, but it’s right. It’s right that she can be private about her personal space and what she will or won’t permit others to see. Now, what if I said I believed she had a bomb in her bra. Should I make her walk around without anything at all to protect her modesty? Because I believe she might be doing something I disagree with, do I have the right to make her run around topless?”
The room was silent.
“Not so easy to answer, is it? A topless woman is an easy illustration, but our personal safety gets difficult. After all, it’s not like we’re carrying around swords anymore. But … if I felt unsafe because I couldn’t see her breasts, would I have the right to demand she give up her privacy so I could feel better?”
Barry turned to her, looming over her.
“I don’t feel safe! Let me see your breasts!” he demanded.
Her face darkened, her eyes locked on him. “Not on your life, Mr. President.”
Barry suddenly smiled. “Thank you, Governor Jamie. Thank you. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Please, you can take your seat if you like.” He turned back to the group. “‘Not on your life, Mr. President,’ is what she said. ‘Not on your life.’ I couldn’t agree more. No president’s life, much less his whims or political aspirations, validate the loss of the American right to privacy. My LIFE isn’t worth your privacy. Why would that be?”
“But the safety of the people is more important than the safety of specific individuals!” one of the governors interjected.
“It depends,” Barry said. “That’s an easy blanket statement, but it doesn’t apply universally. How can it? All I have to do is label something for the ‘safety of the people’ and with such a blanket statement and I’ll convince anyone of anything. ‘Women have turned on us! They should all run around topless!’ Now that I’ve scared the men, we’ll take away your right to privacy so we feel safer. But the problem is, providing national safety and taking your right and freedom to privacy only extends so far. If we think there’s no limit, there never will be. If we don’t agree that people have the right to privacy until they hurt others, then we will always take rights of,” Barry raised his fingers, “‘the people.’ How easy it is to say ‘the people’ to justify our desires. Who comprises ‘the people?’”
Barry tapped himself in the chest. “I’m one of the ‘people,’ and I don’t want the bullshit others have been trying to sell me. I don’t want any president to take my right to self defense so others can feel better about a pacified neighborhood. I don’t want to be lumped in so others can justify huge abrogations of individual rights. Honestly? Who the hell are you — or anyone, really — to choose what’s best for ‘the people.’ Can’t ‘the people’ do it for themselves? We live in a day and age where there is no information unavailable to just about anyone, where communication is instant, where opportunity is boundless, and all we do is keep tightening the cinch for what we fear other people might do with all that unlimited opportunity.
“We must end this fear!” Barry declared. “And actually begin trusting each other!”
“And how, exactly, do you suppose we do that?” one of the governors still dressed in a suit sat back and crossed his arms.
“Give people no other choice,” Barry replied without hesitation. “People have been asking for options other-than-reality for decades and we’ve been delivering, but it’s created a cheap facade of security where there has been none. We can’t protect people from reality, but the free market has made reality easier with better technology, division of labor, communications … you name it, the market has done it. What have we done? We ain’t done shit.”
“But we create the safe society for the people and the poor to get by!” one governor exclaimed.
“We sent our country to war after war after after war, killing our sons and daughters generation after generation and you call that peace!?” Barry gasped. “That’s not peace!”
“We can’t have peace if we don’t fight off the bad guys,” one governor raised his hand.
“We can’t have peace if we think the only option is for our country to commit to war when the people of this country receive no direct benefit.”
“Those people need our help! You have a responsib-”
“They’re not my people!” Barry exclaimed. “I wasn’t elected president of Syria! Or Iraq! Or Afghanistan! I was elected president of the United States! Americans are my responsibility — insofar as the constitution defines them as my responsibility. Those other countries are going to have to have to live with the decisions they’ve made, good or bad!”
“Isn’t that sticking your head in the ground?” asked another.
“Are you suggesting we don’t do anything at all? You’re withdrawing our troops, cutting our services … what exactly do you think the government should do?”
“NOTHING!” Barry roared. “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!” He turned around at the circle. “These are your people in your states in your counties and districts and cities and they don’t live for me or at my behest! I’m not their king! I’m not their god! I cannot direct them in anything! I am not here to lead them. I’m here to preserve their god-given liberty so they can lead themselves! It’s up to them what they want to make out of this sandbox we call freedom!”
“But people live their freedom differently!” one governor stood up.
Barry squeezed his eyes and started laughing. “They won’t all experience the same wealth as some!” he continued.
“And?” Barry walked toward him. “It’s their freedom. Not ours.” He motioned across the governors. “Their freedom, their success, their failures, their wealth, are not ours to manage. We cannot manage the lives of other people unless,” he raised a finger, “they’re our slaves. Are they your slaves, governor?”
“It’s only right for people to help people.”
“Then help them. Give them your paycheck.”
The governor blanched. “It- it wouldn’t be enough, anyway.”
“And it never will be,” Barry said. “There is not enough money to satisfy the ‘needs’ of those who will not work for it, and certainly not those who pander to them in hopes of maintaining power.”
“That’s not fair!” one governor protested.
“Neither is life!” Barry retorted. “Life isn’t fair. We can’t make it more fair by taking from those who fairly earned it to those who fairly haven’t.”
“Life isn’t that simple!” another governor protested.
“And so why do you keep promising citizens simple solutions to fix it?” Barry turned to face them. “Taking money from Peter to pay Paul only enslaves Peter to Paul’s desires, so long as politicians like us keep justifying distributive theft! We keep justifying using public monies to prop some people at the cost of others, some companies at the cost of others.”
Barry walked back to the box and the chair and put them side-by-side.
“Both are very different objects,” said Barry. “One is metal and tall and slender. The other is heavy and white and wide and made of wood. Because the box CAN fit the chair, and the chair not so easily fit the box, should the chair then have a right to sit atop the box?”
The group looked at him.
“Today, we politicians keep using the logic that because something CAN be, it should be. We CAN take money from the high earners to give to the low earners. But in a free world,” Barry pointed at the two objects, “the chair and box must sit on the floor together. One rises higher than the other, but that wealth?” Barry raised his foot and stamped down hard on the seat of the foldable metal chair, warping it. “Easily lost in a market unsupported by public subsidies. It’s a fake structure, built on public monies and subsidies and one-sided regulations that makes an entire corporation its own bubble. The box?”
Barry stamped on the box several times and it didn’t move. “Stable, solid and unmoving. It’s low and not so pretty, but it’s stable and will last awhile under heavier weight and change than this flimsy metal chair.” Barry kicked the chair over again. “Easily tossed.” He walked around the chair, pointing at it. “This is our, economy, one we have touted as advanced, but in reality is flimsy and easily broken.”
Rounding it, Barry stepped onto the box. “This is the economy we should aim for. It’s not so high, but it’s stable and difficult to break. It simmers lower with gentle peaks but will also have more gentle economic valleys. In this economy, huge corporations rise and fall easily, unsupported by cronies in government. You know what that means? That means the poor are less regulated into their poverty, allowing freer movement upwards.”
Barry turned and pointed at the governor protesting the need to help the poor.
“You keep demanding we take from earners to give to those in need, but the very policies you put in place only create more people who need. If we focused our attention on destroying the cronyism in our government, deregulating the monopolistic tactics of crooked elected representatives, we wouldn’t have to worry about the poor near as much as we do today, because poverty would be considered more a temporary stopping point for people on their way through bad choices on their way to a better life. But today, we’ve made it a resting ground for everyone who doesn’t have their head up the ass of one of our congressional reps. We regulate out of business our competitors and make illegal companies we simply disagree with on trumped up moral lies.”
Barry stamped his foot.
“The buck stops here. Tonight, we’re starting something dangerous. We’re getting rid of the top-down approach. We’re leaving this archaic system of human control behind us. Tonight, we learn what it takes to truly serve a free people, not a bunch of spoiled brats educated to believe they need us, because they don’t. They need themselves. This won’t be easy, and it will cost many politicians their political careers, but political careers are easily sacrificed in pursuit of real freedom. I will sacrifice my own, and I would sacrifice any of yours.
“None of you are worth the citizens you serve. If any of you thought differently, then I hope you lose your office quickly. If you know whom you serve, I hope you will serve them well by getting out of their way.”
Barry stepped off the box and clasped his hands.
“Alright, let’s talk about my ultimatums and what they mean for you.”
See Part III – Oct 7