January 20th 2021
BRAHJA, OYA III, OYA
The packed crowd erupted in applause when Imperator Laylani Addison took to the auditorium stage in her old secondary school. The recently elected Imperator smiled warmly and thanked the crowd for their patience, “My day’s been a bit more hectic than expected.” No one seemed to mind though. This was Imperator Addison’s first visit to where she grew up since her inauguration on January 1st.
According to sources within her administration, the event in Oya was a welcome reprieve for Imperator Addison after the chaotic first few weeks of her term. Intent on hitting the ground running, her administration instead struggled to find its footing. From the embarrassing guest list incident at her inauguration gala to the weak applause Senators gave her following her first speech before the assembly, the independent candidate who somehow never stumbled during the campaign is still searching for her first political win as Imperator.
Today, before adoring supporters in Oya, Imperator Addison launched into a speech similar to the one she gave countless times on the campaign trail but with some marked difference. Many of her ambitious campaign promises were now couched by more diplomatic language. She reiterated her desire to dramatically increase funding for education and scientific research but acknowledged that Senate approval of the budget would be necessary – a detail never mentioned on the campaign trail, but one that Senate leaders proudly reminded the public about following her speech to them. Senator Walter Fisk, a prominent Centralist on the Budgetary Committee, even went as far as to characterize the cost of the proposal laid out in her speech before the Senate as “astronomical, economically ignorant, and a grave threat to the fiscal future of the Empire.”
In Oya, Imperator Addison spent the largest part of her speech discussing progress made on her First Act promise to loosen AI restrictions. The lightning rod issue garnered her campaign massive publicity and support, along with some scorn. She discussed in detail how her plan to override the outright ban on AI research had begun. On her first day in office, Imperator Addison signed an imperial action ordering the Senate to “revisit, reform, and revise” the current law banning all AI research and paved the way for the creation of an AI ethics panel at the Imperial Science Council that would be vital to strengthening and securing the “scientific and economic future of the Empire.”
The imperial action invoked a little used privilege allowing Imperators to compel Congress to reconsider a law if it has not appeared on their legislative docket within twenty-five years or more. She explained that reopening the debate on the law would then allow an amendment to be introduced that carves out exemptions for highly specific situations. Imperator Addison believes that this legislative route would be faster, as only an amendment and not an entire new law would need to be drafted. Senate observers have also noted that a new law would need to be considered and passed by the Science and Technology Committee, a hurdle few believe it could clear at this time. Introducing an amendment to the current law deftly sidesteps the committee battle and would put the amendment to a vote before the full Senate. While the imperial action excited her supporters, Imperator Addison now seems keen on tempering their expectations. She made it clear in her speech that it will be a long process that would probably take years before any permits were issued.
Imperator Addison’s carefully calibrated speech to her alma mater seemed to acknowledge that elements of her ambitious political agenda are under revision. Behind the scenes, several of her top advisors reportedly met to prioritize her campaign promises into several categories ranging from “Achievable” to “Unfeasible.” While no one has been willing to go on record regarding the fate of specific high-risk efforts, several administration officials have started quoting a piece of advice given to Imperator Erin Toi by her Chief of Staff Clement Redfield, “Campaign on the dream, but govern to the reality.”
Tasked with repairing the damage and disgrace done to the government by centuries of Messer regime rule, Redfield understood the balancing act between political dreams and political realities, and he repeatedly advised Imperator Toi to focus on what could be accomplished instead of what she promised to accomplish. Invoking Redfield’s advice among Imperator Addison’s staff appears to signal a similar shift by the current administration.
Ever since her surprising election win, political observers have wondered how Imperator Addison, who has never previously held political office, would handle the transition from an aspirational, underdog candidate to governing the most significant political institution in Human history. Critics feared she would be woefully unprepared for the demands of the position – an argument bolstered by reports that her team has struggled to fill several key positions within the administration. They were also forced to pull the nomination of Maryann Althoff to be the Under Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Navigation after their vetting process failed to uncover several controversial and defamatory public statements against high-ranking members of the UEE High-Command.
Meanwhile, supporters that attended Imperator Addison’s speech in Oya either overlooked her new, calibrated language or didn’t care about the distinction. Most still expressed unbridled enthusiasm for the new Imperator and her policy goals. According to Silvio Wardlaw, an administrative clerk for a local shipping concern, “I hope she can accomplish what she promised, but I’m sure there’ll be some snags. Even if she gets half of it done, this Empire will be headed in the right direction and I’ll be happy.” Many in attendance were quick to highlight what they see as her successes so far, such as the recently announced XenoScience Conference that will have leading scientists from across species convening in New York later this year or her appointment of Ki Jotal, the first ever Tevarin cabinet member.
Whether Imperator Addison supporters will remain loyal once faced with political realities and roadblocks, like an uncooperative Senate, remains to be seen. Considering she ran as an independent, it will be vitally important for Imperator Addison to keep her voters engaged and on her side. With no built-in political party carrying out her objectives, she’ll need her voters’ help in pressuring Senators to support her policies. Administration insiders claim the goal is to use her popularity to mobilize her base to convince their Senators to join a new coalition interested in steering the Empire towards her goals. Without this continued support from voters and buy-in from like-minded Senators, Imperator Addison may struggle to get any significant legislation done.
Only time will tell if the skills that made Imperator Addison a truly unique candidate will translate into her becoming an accomplished head of state.