C: Why are you running for president?
D: Because there’s an election.
C: That’s not a valid reason!
D: I don’t know what you mean.
C: You don’t run for president because there’s an election. We have an election because people run for president.
D: That seems sort of strange.
C: Look, in every society, people compete for power. We have elections to manage that competition. It’s a regular way to select leaders. That’s why I say we have an election: because more than one person wants to be president.
D: That’s right! So that’s why I’m running!
D: Because there’s an election!
C: Sheesh, Dio. I don’t think I got through. What would you do if we didn’t have an election?
D: I wouldn’t run for president.
C: But you feel some kind of impulse to run because we’re all getting geared up to elect somebody in November.
D: Well it’s hard, you know. No one wants to vote for me.
C: Of course no one wants to vote for you. You have to give them a reason to vote for you.
D: The other candidates don’t seem to give people a reason to vote for them. I thought I’d emulate them.
C: Those guys are from established parties. They don’t have to give anyone a reason. They just run because that’s what politicians do.
D: At least I have a reason.
C: Those guys would tell you they have a reason, too, if you ask them.
D: What would they say?
C: They want to be president to make a difference, to serve their country, to make other people’s lives better, out of a desire to serve their country. If they’re honest, though, they would add that power has its attractions.
D: Like what?
C: People like to be famous. They like others to look up to them, to treat them with respect. Presidents get a lot of respect. Some people call it ass kissing.
D: I don’t want to be president so people will kiss my ass! That’s not a good reason!
C: You tell me. That’s why candidates don’t mention it.
D: Seems to me president’s come and go. Real power in government lies with institutions that persist over decades, not presidential administrations that have to accomplish something in eight years or less. Presidents and their advisors never have the same weight as, say, the Pentagon, the Department of Justice, or the various intelligence organizations.
C: You’re right about that. What are you getting at?
D: I’m suggesting that presidents don’t exercise all that much power. Kisses on their derrieres are all they’re going to get.
C: It’s a lot of trouble they go to, to get respect.
D: I like to get respect as much as the next man.
C: There’s respect and there’s ass kissing. People kiss up because they want something from you, they’re afraid of you, they figure it’s good for their careers, they want to belong to the inner circle – lots of reasons.
D: Well I want to be president because I want to fuck people over.
D: That’s right. That’s what people with power do.
C: I thought you wanted to help people. That’s why politicians go into public service.
D: They think that’s why. They don’t understand how much harm they cause.
C: Honestly, Dio, you can’t pursue high office because you want to mess with people.
D: Can’t help it. If you’re in government, you’re going to fuck people up.
C: Give me an example.
D: Alright. We form a voluntary army of soldiers who want to defend freedom.
C: Yes, we have an army like that.
D: We send them to a far away country to do some nation building. You know – hearts and minds – that crap.
C: Defending freedom is not crap!
D: Getting ourselves involved in civil wars is not defending freedom! Anyway, what happens to our army?
C: I don’t know. What?
D: One guy steps on a mine and loses his leg. Another guy gets shot by the guy he’s training. Suddenly dead. A third guy is so upset he lost his friend, he gets drunk, goes out and shoots someone for revenge. He get’s court martialed. That’s three people who are –
C: Fucked up. You going to blame the government for all of that?
D: Who sent them over there?
C: They did volunteer.
D: They volunteered to protect their own country! Not some mountainous wasteland where the climate is especially good for poppies. They didn’t volunteer to go so far away from their families, to be shot down by soldiers who’re supposed to be on our side. We give up on a losing cause, but no one wants to admit anyone died in vain.
C: I don’t think we want to debate our overseas wars.
D: You’re right, but you wanted an example of how government fucks people over.
C: I guess that’s a good one.
D: You think so?
C: Sure I do. Now, when are you going to declare your candidacy?