My next book – coming out in May! – is sort of a prequel to Way of the Serpent in that the protagonist, Malia Poole, recounts her memories of what life was like during the last half of the 21st Century. Some of these memories deal with political changes during those years so I thought that now – in the midst of an especially tumultuous American election year – might be a good time to share some of Malia’s observations.
“I finished high school in our neighborhood there in Philly at what was called at the time a public school. It was, as I recall, supported by some local governing body. There were still a few local governments in the late 2020s and elections were held for various offices of the state of Pennsylvania as well as the United States of America right up to 2044. I only voted a couple of times after I became eligible in 2033. Hardly anybody voted by that time. We were resigned to the fact that the so-called governing bodies – from city councils right up to the Congress and President of the United States – were all a sham. The turnout for elections kept dwindling, and eventually almost all of those who voted were people who had been paid or otherwise obligated by their employers (that is to say, by the plutocrats) to vote for the “right” people. After the 2044 election, the plutocracy decided that their wealth would be better spent on less divisive entertainments, so elections were discontinued.”
There are also a few insights in this passage, a conversation between Malia and her friend Lio:
“You realize, Malia, that governments are on the verge of becoming obsolete,” Lio said. “Already they work only at the bidding of the plutocracy. And now more and more of those elected to government positions are themselves plutocrats. At some point they’ll stop convening the legislatures and parliaments, close the presidents’ and prime ministers’ and governors’ offices, pay the judges one last time and send them home with fat pensions. And we won’t notice the difference, because there won’t be any.”
“What will happen to people like us?” I asked.
“As long as we behave ourselves like good consumers, we’ll just keep doing our part to keep them rich and getting richer.”
“That’s not what I meant.” I scowled at Lio. “I meant people like you and me.”
People like us (this is me talking again) should be very, very concerned about this election. I don’t think we’d like the 22nd-century world I’ve imagined in my books!
Read more from Donna Dechen Birdwell.