1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT — snippet 38

 

1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – snippet 38:

 

 

PART IV

 

November 1634

 

Sublimed with mineral fury

 

 

Chapter 20

 

 

Magdeburg

 

            “When you agreed to delay the national election, Prime Minister,” said Francisco Nasi, “I think you played into Wilhelm Wettin’s hands. We would have done better to insist on the earliest election possible.”

            Frank Jackson, sitting in another chair in Mike Stearns’ office, nodded his head. “He’s right, Mike. I told you at the time that coming right off our victory at Ahrensbök would be the best time to have the election. Instead, you gave Wettin months to start working on peoples’ fears and insecurities again. Months, dammit. Now, Ahrensbök is half a year in the past. These days, that’s not much different from a decade. Nobody remembers.”

            Being one of Mike’s oldest and closest friends, Frank was blunter and cruder than Francisco would have been. But everything he said was true, in Nasi’s opinion.

            Stearns simply looked patient. Almost serene, even.

            “And I told both of you at the time—I was right then, and I’m right now—that you were missing the forest for the trees. Sure, I know that a lot of people straddling the fence, and even some of Wettin’s supporters, think I make a better war president that he will. Who knows? If I’d pushed it, and insisted on a quick election, we might even have won. Gotten a big enough plurality, anyway, and then we could have formed a coalition government with one or another of the smaller parties.” Mike smiled thinly. “Now that would’ve been a barrel of laughs, wouldn’t it? Spend half our waking hours squabbling over crossing t’s and dotting i’s.”

            Nasi couldn’t help but wince. None of the small political parties in the USE was inclined in the least toward political practicality and they all viewed the term “compromise” as being a synonym for “treason.”

            That was one of the reasons they were small, of course.

            He looked out the window. Since he wasn’t sitting near it and the Prime Minister’s office was in the palace’s top floor, there was nothing to see but sky.

            Gray sky. What you’d expect, of course, in November. That dull, sullen, somber month. The battle of Ahrensbök, where the USE army under Torstensson’s command had won its great victory over the French, had taken place in May.

            Bright, sunny, cheerful May. As Frank Jackson said, though, that might as well have been a decade in the past. In the six months since, Wilhelm Wettin and his Crown Loyalist party—coalition, rather; as a “party” the CLs were ramshackle—had spent every waking hour working on every fear and doubt and insecurity that any German might have concerning Mike Stearns and his Fourth of July Party—which was also a coalition, being honest, if not as ramshackle—and their supposed “radicalism.”

            Well. His actual radicalism, in the case of Stearns himself if not every member of his party. By the standards of the seventeenth century, certainly.

            The end result…

            Stearns said it aloud. “Look, guys, face it. We’re going to lose the election. I’ve always known we would”—here he leaned forward in his chair and his tone hardened—“just as I knew at the time that winning the election by taking advantage of Ahrensbök would be a fool’s paradise. Once the glow wore off, the fact is that the majority of people in the United States of Europe simply aren’t ready—not yet—for my political program. And a politician who tries to obtain office for any reason other than carrying through his program is either a scoundrel or a fool. Often enough, both.”

            He leaned back in his seat and clasped his hands over his belly. It was a belly which was perhaps a bit larger than the one he’d carried into the office of Prime Minister a little over a year ago, but not much. Even with his incredibly heavy work load, Stearns always managed to exercise for at least a half hour each day.

            “Here’s what would have happened,” he continued. “At best. We might have won, although we’d almost certainly not have won an outright majority. That means a government that can’t rule very effectively. Then, squabbling and bickering all the while, we’d have tried to shove a program down the throats of a nation that really wasn’t ready for it. Not enough of its people, at any rate. The result? Sooner or later, Wilhelm forces a vote of confidence, there’s another election, and we’re out and he’s in anyway. Only, this time, after having discredited ourselves.”

             He unclasped his hands and sat up straight again. “No, gentlemen, there are times when taking the high road is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. So we lose an election. Big deal. In the meantime—swords have two edges, don’t forget—we’ve been able to take advantage of this long election campaign to solidify our own political base and clarify our own political program. You both know as well as I do what the realities are in the seventeenth century, when it comes to political activity. Most people are farmers and they work like dogs nine months out of the year. They have very little time for politics, and when they do they just want to get something done, not sit around and jabber. That means that winter is the only time of year you can talk to most people about politics—not to mention listen to them—and really hammer out a solid program that your electorate understands. Politics is education, before it’s anything else.”

            Frank Jackson’s scowl had never left his face. By temperament, Jackson was simply not given to patient explanation and elucidation.

            Nasi looked at the window again. Neither was he, really. But at least he could understand clearly what Stearns was saying.

            And… the man might very well be right, after all. If there was one thing Francisco Nasi had learned very thoroughly in the many months since he’d become the head of USE intelligence and one of the Prime Minister’s closest advisers, it was not to underestimate the political acumen and shrewdness of Mike Stearns. A “radical,” the man might be—well, surely was—but he did not have a trace of the airy impracticality of so many political radicals.

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5 Responses to 1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT — snippet 38

  1. lkan says:

    Political parties

    *7/4
    *CL

    — there should be “Lutheran coalition”, “Calvinist front”, “Catholic league”, “Christian united” parties with rather large constituencies, unless they’re the “all the small parties” because regionalism and religious schism doesn’t allow them to combine? Atleast the Catholic league should be there… And a “Burgmeister union” or something… a middle class non-radical party (unless that hasn’t formed because of regionalism) I can’t see just two large parties.

    Since this is taking the UK, Aus, NZ or Canada as a basis… three large parties would be good.

  2. Doug Lampert says:

    I don’t know. No TVs to speak of and very few radios. No railroads. Setting up a party of any size across a decent sized country takes TIME, and lots of it, unless the party is basically built arround someone or something already famous.

    To be blunt, I think they may well have too MANY big parties, specifically two too many. Why would ANYONE be voting for interests or groups not based locally? I’d expect about 400+ little tiny parties, most favoring or opposing the local Bishop, Prince, Duke, Margrave, Mayor, or whatever… With the only “national” parties being the six fanatic religious zelots who want to kill or convert all the non-whatevers.

    [You can reasonably build a “national” party based on hating (1) all non-catholics, (2) all non-lutherens, everyone not covered by the Peace of Augsburg (everyone but catholics and lutherens), (3) all catholics, (4) all non-calvanists, (5) all non-christians, (6) all the obviously demonic so called up-timers.]

    There might be a few cranks who vote based on favoring or opposing Mike Sterns or Gustave Adolphous or some other “national” or “international” figure, but I wouldn’t expect that handful to be able to carry too many constituencies outside of Magdenburg and Grantville (which makes them yet another local party in fact rather than theory).

    The only thing big enough to rally a national party around is the war and/or religion. And both big parties seem to have similar policies on those, if the opposition favored anything radically different militarily or diplomatically or didn’t favor some level of freedom of religion Mike wouldn’t be nearly so willing to let them take over. Everyone of any real importance agrees to make honorable peace where possible, everyone of any real importance agrees not to surrender anything significant, everyone of any real importance agrees to allow freedom of religion.

    No big national issue in conflict, so why are two big national parties springing up with enough votes that a majority is even vaguely concievable? I just can’t see the big parties as anything more than coalition umbrellas at this point unless and until someone advocates something really different from Mike’s policies.

    What else do the voters in Nuremburg really care about what happens in Francona for? They’ll vote local. And the local figures have little or no reason to subordinate themselves to some larger party PRIOR to arriving in parliment for the first session of horse trading?

    DougL

  3. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Doug, you’re forgetting the CofC movement. The CofC movement is a revolutionary movement that supports Mike, willing to work with GA and is strongly annoyed with the nobles of the Germanies.

    As the snippet mentions, the “Fourth of July Party” is a coalition itself. It is IMO based on the ideas being spread by the CofC.

    You said that there’s no “national issue in conflict”. I submit that you’re wrong. The CofC and the “Fourth Of July Party” have a strong idea of what kind of nation the USE will be. The issue is “Will this a nation of the ‘People’ or the Nobles”.

    Obviously, if there is a strong movement toward one idea of ‘what kind of nation’, there’ll be other ideas of ‘what kind of nation’.

    The Crown Loyalist coalition are those people who are afraid of ‘what kind of nation’ Mike will try to create. As this and other snippets mention, they are even less ‘united’ than the Fourth of July coalition.

  4. lkan says:

    The Church supposedly has unity, so I’m surprised there’s no major “Catholic league party”.

    Or that Swedish nobles have not established an “Army of Luther party” to solidify themselves, and reduce the power of the reformists 4/Jul and the local barons of the CL.

  5. Doug Lampert says:

    Drak, why should the average voter, or for that matter the average noble, CARE about the CoC/4th of July link.

    Can they change the rules of election or the franchise? Probably not, see the most recent snippet, the Senate is SOLIDLY controlled by the nobility no matter HOW the election comes out and it’s a bicameral legislature, even assuming that they can pass a constitutional ammendment without local approval the senate can and will block the proposal from ever passing at any level.

    Can they change how local areas are governed? Almost certainly not, this is a federation of nominally independent states, the central government has no right to change the rules inside a member state, and even if they DID have such a right it doesn’t matter because, again, the senate can and will block it.

    Why vote based on whether Mike Sterns gets to totally fail to pass his major domestic program or whether William Wettin gets to do nothing much domestically for some years when you have (a) local issues of importance and (b) there’s a war on. Under the circumstances the ONLY BIG domestic issue where the central government has any influence at all (religious freedom) is ALSO an issue on which the big parties agree.

    So why two big parties?

    What of any significance can possibly change based on which of these parties wins? Which is Mike’s point in not being all that worried about who wins, but it ALSO means that people should be voting on local issues.

    Ikan, Swedish nobles don’t get a vote at ALL. This is a German government, AFAICT they haven’t unified with Sweden at all except in sharing a common crown. Having the same king/emperor doesn’t make them the same state at all.

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