Interviewing a Communist
Director and reporter Nick Maggiore interviews the newly elected President of Erusia.
Some of you might ask why I decided this title. Well, the word “Communist” is still seen in the United States as a synonym for “vandal” or “criminal”, so by using it, I do not only risk that some guys in black suits make a visit at my house; I also do look like a Communist! Oh noes! To be honest, the truth is that I try to make this word more common to the people that usually read this newspaper and that regularly wake up every morning in the U.S of A. 🙂
But let’s go back to the topic. A few days ago I had the pleasure to interview the “new leader” of Erusia, Kai Roosevelt, ENCP member, and most importantly, female politician. In a micronational world where men are the only people you see around, interviewing a woman was maybe one of the most satysfying things I never experienced as Director of the Observer. I don’t know.. women are just better at interviews.
“Kai Roosevelt, People’s President of Erusia”; it would look great on a visiting card. Did you never expect to end up at such a high position? What were your first dreams and ambitions when you joined the ENCP?
Visiting cards…I might have to start having some printed! [laughs] But in all seriousness no, I can’t say that I ever pictured myself as Erusia’s first woman head of state when I first joined the Communist Party. When I first became a member of the Party my main area of concern was actually economic policy. A lot happened back in 2008 that a lot of non-Erusians don’t actually know about, and at the time that I was becoming a really active member of the Party there was really a lot of concern about the government’s economic policy, because our policy back then was very different to the highly successful policy we later brought in around February 2009. So I really got started campaigning for economic reform and change, offering new suggestions and new ideas to try and fix the problems in our old policy. I never thought at all about becoming one of the big hitters in Erusian politics, but as you might know it was my economic campaigning that landed me my first job in government when I was given responsibility for monetary policy, and then a month later I was chosen to become Premier quite out of the blue. Or out of the red, maybe.
You happen to be the second woman I know into micronational politics, together with Fabiana Gallo della Loggia. What do you think of her resignation?
I was very…not disappointed, but definitely very saddened by the news Fabiana had resigned. As a matter of fact I was discussing her resignation just yesterday with another woman politician in Erusia called Melissa Anderson, who basically the majority leader of the National People’s Assembly and the ENCP’s Chief Whip. We both agreed that her resignation as the leader of the SCSM is really a sad day for all women in micronational politics, especially in a community like our own where there is a serious lack of prominent female politicians. There was also a lot of sadness in Erusia. Fabiana Gallo della Loggia is an incredibly popular woman in our nation, one who a lot of people hold a great deal of respect for.
Apparently she is now part of the 2nd Reinhardt Administration: Minister of Culture and Education. Any thoughts?
To be perfectly honest, I have mixed thoughts on the matter. I’m naturally thrilled that she hasn’t just faded into obscurity as many retirees do and will now actually be a real, serious policy-maker. On the other hand, I’m disappointed she hasn’t been given wider scope – I’d have liked to see her in charge of social policy in general, not just education. But still, it is great to see a Socialist responsible for education in St.Charlie and I genuinely believe that she will prove to be an excellent minister. I’d certainly have her in my cabinet if she were an Erusian.
We literally see a “new” and “modern” world in your cabinet: new names, new offices, new jobs, and also a higher focusing on “human” matters such as social development, education and environment. Why exactly?
I’m very glad that you asked that question. I won’t bore you by explaining the cabinet selection process, and instead I’ll get down to the meat of the question. Many of the new names, new faces that I’m bringing into my cabinet are people who I’ve worked very closely with in the Assembly or who I’ve worked with on important Party political issues, because as you might know within the Communist Party I’m sort of the link that connects the leadership to the normal members. Many of them are very much unknown in the community because a lot of the work they’ve done so far has been either legislative or behind the scenes in each of our ministries. Almost all of my new additions to the cabinet are people who have been waiting patiently, some for nearly a year now, to provide themselves at a national level – and I really do think it is important that we take advantage of the enthusiasm and the dedication of this…this whole generation of politicians as soon as we can. And of course, many of these people share my vision for Erusia and have many fantastic ideas about how to realise that vision. I’m actually very happy with this cabinet – I’m very proud to say that I’ve appointed the first cabinet minister in history who doesn’t speak English as a first language. We also have for the first time three parties, not just one, in the cabinet, and of course we have Trade Unions represented there by one of those parties.
You’re also very right in saying that I’ve really changed the makeup of the cabinet. There are four new Commissions out of a total of eleven and of course, I’ve abolished the Commission for Culture and Media and merged it back into the Commission for Internal Affairs, which it was originally part of. I wouldn’t quite say that we have changed our focus though. The Commission for Social Advancement, which has now become the Commission for Social Development and Reform, previously had a lot of different jobs to do at once. It had to handle education, healthcare, equality, social welfare and so on. I’ve made the decision to instead create two new separate Commissions to handle Education and Healthcare to instead allow the SD&R Commission to put all of their energy into social welfare and equality. The same is true for the Environment Commission – the environment used to come under the jurisdiction of the State Agency for Border and Land Reform which was part of the Internal Affairs Commission. Now that we have a whole ministry dedicated to the environment, we’ve been able to eliminate the agency and give border control over to the Citizenship & Immigration Agency instead. At the same time though, I think that giving these important areas their own ministry will make sure they get the attention they really deserve. You’ll be able to learn more about what we’re going to be doing in these departments next month when we publish our agenda for February to August 2010.
I also see, with some pleasure, Lethler guiding foreign affairs, and not for the first time. Is he right now in Erusia the only man suited for this kind of matters?
There was and still is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Robert Lethler is the best man for the job. He has the experience, he has the contacts and he has the skills every great foreign minister needs. I know he is currently training someone to take over from him when he stands down eventually, though I can’t possible say who that is. I will say that Robert is going to be our foreign affairs man for at least another year – its highly unlikely he’ll be standing down from that job before July 2011 unless circumstances dramatically change.
I’m a bit curious on this one: how do you imagine Erusia when your mandate as President will terminate?
I wish I could answer this question fully, but I can’t actually give you an exceptionally clear-cut answer until next month when we decide on our full agenda at Congress. Unlike in a lot of political parties where its entirely up to the leadership to decide where the party goes, in the ENCP we let our active members decide through the debates and votes at Congress. I do hope, however, that at the end of my term in office Erusia is going to be a much more democratic country – not fairer per se, because I believe we are a very fair country, but certainly more democratic. I am not a supporter of us continuing the single-party state and I do believe that we can have multi-party democracy without abandoning our fundamental Socialist beliefs. My goal is to take Erusia back to where she used to be in December 2008, reducing the constitutional power of the ENCP to protecting a specific set of principles and otherwise allowing total free and fair democracy. We’ve all ready made huge gains towards achieving this recently, and I hope to finish what we’ve started. I have a very clear and specific vision for Erusia – I have no intention to make our nation into a liberal democracy, but I think we can all agree that greater democracy and political freedom is needed. I can also tell you, quite exclusively, that I have a major constitutional reform package I intend to put to the Assembly in the next two months.
How are politics in Erusia? Does your cabinet call you “Ms. Roosevelt” or just “Kai”?
I’m always being told by Robert Lethler that our politics are a lot more formal, and he’s probably telling the truth when he says that. In cabinet we do tend to use first names, but out of courtesy and protocol everyone calls me Comrade Roosevelt when we have a cabinet meeting – but things are a lot less formal than they were in the Assembly where everyone has to follow a very strict code of conduct, a lot like the one in the British parliament actually. The thing about our political system is how very complex it is, especially when you consider the fact you basically have two separate governments existing side-by-side and doing the same job. We are very big believers in protocol. There’s a lot of formality and a lot of bureaucracy, but our system works very well. We manage to keep activity pretty solid all year round using it without much difficulty, so even if some foreign micronationalists might think our formality is a bit excessive or our bureaucracy over the top, we still find it works very well for us.
Concluding, what do you say to all those who still think of Erusia as a Stalinist, despotic dictatorship?
This is a very difficult question to answer. Really, I want to say two things: we have never been a Stalinist dictatorship. We don’t deny that we have had issues in the past with our Human Rights record and we accept that improvement is needed – but we are changing. Many peope abroad have seriously exaggerated the situation in Erusia simply because they dislike us. I’d also like to say that different nations have different ideas of what Human Rights are about. In Erusia, we think it’s more important that you be able to go out into the street and know that you’re equal to everyone else than, for example, to be able to go out and set up a church wherever you want. The second thing I want to say is that we’ve definitely never been despotic, not at all. Robert Lethler has taken a lot of flak over issues, because people see him as this grand and evil dictator who makes all these unpopular decisions. In reality Robert is the ultimate patriot, and I admire him greatly for it. Many of the very unpopular policies he takes credit for were actually made by a majority decision of the Central Committee and he just went out and defended them in public so no-one else would be attacked.
Whatever people thought of us in the past though, we are definitely not a dictatorship today. I am fully confident that by this time next year Erusia is going to be meeting international standards on Human Rights and then we will have the kind of democracy that the community thinks we need. All I will say is that we are going to change on our own schedule and on the will of our People – we don’t change because other nations tell us we have to.