Into the Shadows - Chapter 8

Chapter Eight
The Debate

Paivi Anderson
Current Events p.6
Dr. Hasenpfeffer

This week I read another article in the St. Andrew Herald by Jerome Knowles. It was called “The Final Debate: It’s too late for Senator Stevens.” He writes that Moira Kelly has already won the election. According to the polls, Kelly leads Stevens 64% to 46%. Knowles says it means Kelly will definitely win because in history very few candidates come back from that kind of margin. Kelly also has bonus points with voters because she got the head of the Righteous Front, Malcolm Davis, to agree to talks after the election. Knowles thinks only a miracle will save Senator Stevens and his campaign at this point. I am planning to watch the debate on Sunday because I think it will be interesting and because it is a class assignment.

Paivi, enjoy the debate! B+
Dr. H.

Senator Stevens sat in a chair in his dressing room. It was quiet. The hair and make-up people had just left, and none of his staff had returned from their tasks. There was still some time before the debate was to begin. He sat back in his chair and looked at his clean, smiling reflection in the mirror. He had never really been handsome as a young man, but now he at least looked distinguished. He looked like a…
A President, he finished the thought, taking a sip of water from a glass on the counter.

He adjusted his tie, which was unnecessary, as it was already perfect. He polished the American flag pin on his lapel and smiled.

This is it, he thought.

He got up from his chair and retrieved a small flash drive from his briefcase, tucking it into the pocket of his suit jacket.

The door to his dressing room opened and his assistant Martin appeared.

“They’re ready for you, Senator,” said Martin, holding the door.

Senator Stevens followed Martin down a hallway, which led to the large Auditorium Theater where the debate was to take place.

Chicago⎯middle America, where all of the average voters live, he thought.

The theater’s large, lighted arches, painted a stunning gold, soared overhead. Colorful frescoes decorated the walls and ceiling.

A fitting place for my victory, he thought as they entered the stage. Though the election wasn’t until Tuesday, he knew it might as well be today.

“Senator.” Jeff Clancy, one of America’s most well known and respected newsmen walked up, extending his hand.

Senator Stevens reached out, shaking it heartily.

“Good to see you Clancy. How’s the wife?”

“She’s well, Senator. Truly, it is an honor to be working with you tonight! I think they are just giving us a chance to check out the surroundings,” Clancy said, waving a hand at the expansive theater.
Stevens nodded.

“Well, I better be on my way, good to see you sir,” he paused, looking back at the Senator, “good luck tonight!”

“Thanks.” He didn’t need luck. He had something more.

After visiting his podium and checking his microphone with the sound booth, Senator Stevens was led back to his dressing room to await the beginning of the debate. The next hour raced by, filled with last minute briefings and hair and make-up touch-ups.

And then it was time.

The Senator stood in the wings, listening to the cheers of the audience as Jeff Clancy was introduced. Jeff addressed the crowd briefly, and then they turned their attention to the stage. It was decked with bright red curtains against which hung long blue banners. Lines of white stars ran along the banners from floor to ceiling. Two podiums on the stage were decorated in a similar motif.

Senator Stevens could see the crowd behind the bright lights. A few butterflies bounced around his stomach, but he pushed the feeling aside.

This is it, he thought, can’t get nervous now.

Jeff Clancy first gave the introduction of Stevens’ challenger, the Liberal Party candidate Moira Kelly. She was quite popular and had run a good campaign. But Stevens knew even her great successes couldn’t stand up to his plan.

“I would like to welcome Senator Wendell Stevens to the stage,” announced Jeff Clancy.

There was applause, but not quite the same energy as when his opponent was introduced.

Senator Stevens walked across the stage and waved to the crowd, smiling. He made his way over to Moira Kelly and shook her hand.

“Good luck, Senator,” she offered politely.

“Good luck to you as well,” he replied, thinking she would need it more than him.

The debate began as the others had. Jeff Clancy provided the questions, giving Stevens and Kelly their last opportunities before the election to express their positions. There were questions on welfare, the environment, healthcare, and the economy.

At last it came.

“Our next question deals with our national security. Senator Stevens and Ms. Kelly, in light of the seemingly uncontrollable terrorist attacks across the nation, the public would like to hear what solutions you offer for this problem. Ms. Kelly, you may answer first.”

“Terrorism is something we have been dealing with on a daily basis and it has touched everyone’s lives. I myself lost my dear cousin Georgie in the Starbucks bombing this past June in Boston. He left behind a wife and three small children.” She paused as her voice caught in her throat. Taking a deep breath, she pressed her hand to her heart and closed her eyes. A tear rolled down her cheek.

It was everything Senator Stevens could do to refrain from rolling his eyes. Moira Kelly had used cousin Georgie’s demise to win herself countless points in the polls. He put a solemn look on his face in order to appear sympathetic as she continued.

She quickly regained her composure.

“I feel that the only way we are going to get anywhere is if we set up peace talks with the Righteous Front, or the RF. For years we have been fighting violence with more violence, and what victories have any of the monies spent on defense and intelligence gotten us? Just more innocent citizens killed. Terrorist attacks didn’t stop, even after we destroyed one of their main camps in Montana. The terror continues everyday. It’s time to go in a different direction and make an effort to end the violence once and for all. I have already secured a meeting with RF commander, Malcolm Davis, on December 1st.”
The applause in the auditorium was not as loud as when she was introduced. Many people were still quite nervous that Moira Kelly’s plan was not vigorous enough and doubted it could or would stop the terrorists.

“If you would, please, give us your response, Senator Stevens,” asked Jeff Clancy as the applause died down.

“Thank you, Mr. Clancy. For a long time, the United States has been dealing with the scourge of terrorism. In the beginning, the attacks were on a grand scale, hitting major targets to make a point, and did not happen very often. After the formation of the Righteous Front, the attacks have become increasingly more regular and employ tactics that have been used by Hamas in Israel, the IRA in Great Britain, and ETA in Spain. Now, every grocery store and every shopping mall are targets. We can’t even keep our schools safe, as we saw in the Lincoln Elementary School bombing.”

People in the audience lowered their eyes, somber at the thought of the loss of so many lives. The attack had occurred almost a year ago, when a group of terrorists overran and elementary school, and blew up not only the children inside, but had car bombs rigged in the parking lot that killed numerous parents as they flocked to the school to find out if their children were okay. 863 lives were lost that day in Topeka, Kansas.

“However, I propose a different path. Ms. Kelly may choose to negotiate with terrorists. I, on the other hand, refuse to negotiate with people whose only way to get a point across is to blow up innocent children.”

The crowd roared to life. Members of the audience jumped to their feet, applauding, screaming. Some were even in tears.

So far, so good, he thought. He could feel the energy in the room.

This will be mine.

He continued.

“In the past few weeks, I have been working with some very reliable intelligence informants. I have received some valuable information, which will help in our fight against these terrorists. The intelligence suggests that there are people in these United States, our own citizens, who knew about these terrorist attacks, and have knowledge of future attacks. And yet they have chosen to keep this information to themselves. They have chosen not to speak, allowing innocent men, women and children, people like Ms. Kelly’s own cousin George, to die horrible deaths which could have been prevented.”

There were gasps and whispers throughout the crowd.

“In this day and age, silence is complicity, and at this point, should be punished as treason. These people have betrayed you, betrayed those who have been killed, and betrayed their country. Now, what I propose is a committee including the Senate, the State Department, the FBI, CIA, and the U.S. Army to deal with these Enemies of the State. This is so important to the nation’s security that I chose to begin the committee before the election takes place, because I feel your safety is more important than your vote. However, if you do vote for me, as your Commander in Chief, I will be able to work towards punishing the traitors and eradicating the Righteous Front from our shores.”

He pulled the small flash drive from his pocket.

“This contains a list of the traitors who live among us. To prove just how dangerous these Enemies of the State are, let me share a few names with you. Monty Larkin, an RF lieutenant, who is currently in the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas for planning a bombing in Detroit last February, is on the list. Also on the list is Elizabeth Sanchez, an RF operative who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for a bombing in Miami in last August. The remainder have been living among you, keeping their terrifying secret from the good citizens of this great nation. I feel it is our duty to begin identifying these people as soon as possible and take them in for questioning.”

“This is preposterous!” shouted Moira Kelly. “If this is a matter of national security, as you say Senator, shouldn’t you immediately turn it over to President Hartman?”

“Madam, as a member of the Senate, my committee will report directly to the President, of course. However, in order to protect the public, the committee must be hand selected to ensure that the information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. As the original recipient of the list, I already know who can and cannot be trusted.”

The audience was silent, watching the exchange between the candidates.

“How do we know we can trust you, Senator Stevens?” Moira Kelly could hardly contain her fury.
“Well, obviously, Madam, if I were one of these traitors, I certainly wouldn’t be trying to punish my own. Are you certain of your own status? You wouldn’t happen to be on this list, would you?” Stevens shot her an analyzing glance.

Moira Kelly lost her cool at that point, charging across the stage at the Senator.

“How dare you accuse me of being a traitor, you filthy, slimy scumbag!” she screamed.

Members of the security staff and both candidates’ staffers ran out to attempt to pull the two apart as Moira Kelly attempted to choke the Senator, but had no success fitting her small hands around his fat neck. She pulled her arm back, setting up to punch the Senator in the face as a security officer grabbed her around the waist. Jeff Clancy ran up on stage as the curtain fell on the melee.

“Well folks, this brings us to the end of this evening’s debate. Please join us on ‘Good Morning’ tomorrow for a full analysis. And please, don’t forget to do your duty as Americans and vote on Tuesday. Good night.”

There was a stunned silence in the Anderson’s family room.

“I don’t know what just happened,” said Crystal as she stared at the screen, her jaw dropped. “What was that all about?”

“He can’t do that. Marking people as traitors! What evidence does he have? This can’t be allowed by the Constitution!” Jason raved.

“Well, hopefully this whole thing will just blow up in his face. I can’t wait to see who is on that list. It’s probably all Liberal Party members. He’ll just use it to get rid of people he doesn’t like,” speculated Paivi. “I guess this will give us something to talk about in Dr. Hasenpfeffer’s class tomorrow.”


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