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UNITED STATES(alt) – Part I

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Hello, my name is Anastasia and I’m coming to you live from the heart of the United States(alt), a country much like yours, but located in a reality alternate to the one you are currently in. As you will see in the series of reports to follow, this U.S.(alt) is astonishingly similar to your U.S. We could almost be mistaken for you, were it not for a few key differences; differences which, you will be pleased to know, did not cause any disruptions in the fabric of the universe since the laws of nature permit deviations between realities. I will use the (alt) designation whenever referring to places which are named here as in your U.S., to avoid any possible confusion on your part.

First, some general information. Our official language is English. Geographically, our land is identical in size and topography to yours, but we are comprised of forty three domains, as opposed to your fifty states. The reason for this is that we do not have a North and South Carolina nor a North and South Dakota. We just have Carolina and Dakota. Rhode Island(alt) long ago merged with Connecticut(alt), Alabama(alt) and Mississippi(alt) combined resources for financial reasons (thereafter calling themselves Alassippi), and Hawaii(alt) and Alaska(alt) are commonwealths, same as Puerto Rico(alt). All our other domains are the same as your corresponding states and go by the same name.

Some other variations you may be interested in knowing are that, for example, California(alt) has had numerous referendums on becoming a commonwealth but, as they have failed repeatedly to get the minimum voter turnout required, they are, for the time being, designated as a “commonwealth pending” domain which doesn’t really change anything, but it makes them feel better. Another deals with New York(alt) which took exception to being classified in any way at all, so they became a “neutral zone”, our internal version of Switzerland, neither commonwealth nor domain. Further, where your Washington, DC is a federal district, our Washington, DC(alt) is, what we call, an “exempt domain”. The name traces back to the old days when politicians, under the mistaken impression that what governs the rest of us should not apply to them, passed legislation making them “exempt” from many inconvenient rules and laws, and then routinely used the loopholes they created to their legal and financial benefit. We put a stop to this and other unsavory practices on Capitol Hill (alt) when we made fundamental changes to our entire governmental system.

Now, let us get down to specifics.

Politics

First of all, we now have a system of government which we call a “domain direct democracy”. The change came about some years ago when we realized (finally!) that the Constitution(alt) could no longer be the basis for our law as it was a document written too many years ago to be applicable in the present. Not only did it contain too much antiquated terminology which had no reference to our modern day society, it was filled with far too many ambiguities which caused only arguments and divisions among our citizens. Keep in mind that our Declaration of Independence was signed in 1676, and our Constitution became law in 1687, one hundred years earlier than yours did, respectively. Our new document is called The Constitution 2.0.

In accordance with Constitution 2.0, we are governed by forty three senators, each representing their respective domain, three delegates from each of the commonwealths and two ambassadors, one from the District of Columbia and the other from New York. Unlike senators, delegates and ambassadors are not eligible to become acting Head of State, (in a rotation which takes place annually) nor can they vote on cabinet appointments e.g. Secretary of State, Defense, Interior, Agriculture, etc.

Each senator, delegate or ambassador is elected by a majority vote in his or her domain or commonwealth. Once in office, their primary mandate is to represent the wishes of their constituency. Those wishes are evidenced by referendums in which the people can make their voice heard on individual issues which, at any given time, concern our country as a whole.

Our politicians no longer have any special exemptions or immunities, nor are they allowed to pass laws which would grant them even the smallest form of preferential treatment. For years Capitol Hill (alt) was populated by men and women who entirely lost sight of why they were elected, instead using their time in office to do little more than enrich themselves. For example – a news program did a story on members of congressional committees who while making policy affecting certain industries purchased or sold stock of companies in those industries, depending on the impact they knew their policies would make and they did all this before these policies became public knowledge, their actions constituting nothing less than insider trading, a felony punishable by law for the rest of us. Voter outcry after the program aired forced legislation to stop these activities in the form of what we called the S.T.O.C.K.(alt) Act, an acronym for Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. Some months later when the furor died down and the public spotlight moved elsewhere, Congress(alt) very quickly and surreptitiously, repealed large portions of the legislation, effectively returning things to “business and usual”. This was only one in a long line of glaring incidences in which our politicians created, for themselves, legal ways to circumvent the law of our land.

Like you, we have our special interest groups but their lobbying activities are centered entirely around swaying public sentiment, as influencing the senators, delegates and ambassadors is no longer effectual in any way. They can act in an advisory capacity, assisting our elected officials in understanding the intricacies of a particular issue, but that’s the extent of their activities on Capitol Hill(alt). In the old days, when our system of government was the same as yours, our special interest groups became so powerful, they largely dictated how our country was run (as yours do now). It all began innocently enough. With a myriad of explanations none of us could understand, (probably because they either made little sense or successfully obfuscated their true purpose) politicians structured laws so that political donations and campaign funding by wealthy lobby groups became perfectly legal. With almost all restrictions lifted or easily circumvented, money flowed like manna from heaven, and buying legislation became a widely accepted, if not so obvious, practice. By financing the political careers of elected officials, often from day one, these special interest groups controlled how politicians voted, effectively shutting the electorate out of the whole process. The result was that, over the years, we metamorphosed into a “theoretical” democracy, one which failed abominably in practice.

The changeover wasn’t easy; we had to create the new system in secret. We couldn’t take the risk that existing politicians would find out what was going on, and would write legislation blocking it’s implementation. Once we were ready to go and before we did anything else, there was a massive house cleaning; all existing members of Congress(alt) were immediately suspended from duty, temporarily replaced until they had their due process in court. Only a few were exonerated; the rest were found guilty of abusing their office and unceremoniously fired. New elections were immediately called. Purification Day, as it became known, has been celebrated annually ever since.

Any policy changes which do not lend themselves to being decided via the referendum process, are discussed and formulated by a committee comprised of selected members of academia, the corporate and legal community, as well as specialists in the particular field of concern, drafted to act as advisors for the duration. No congressional member is allowed to sit on these committees. The resulting proposal is then presented to Congress(alt) which duly votes on it’s adoption.

Another difference between you and us is that we practice a separation of Church and State which is absolute. So much so, that even such seemingly innocent words as “In God We Trust” are never used. We substituted these with “In the Greater Good We Trust”. No terminology to do with any religion is permitted in conjunction with any governmental activity. No law can be passed, no argument made, no policy or legislation enacted which has even the remotest basis in any scripture. We function strictly within the confines of secular law.

So there you are. These are the basics of how our political system functions. It no longer contains the many pitfalls which your system continues to be plagued with, and which only serve to fuel the ever increasing disconnect between Capitol Hill and the electorate.

Next time, we’ll discuss the economy. Till then, this has been,
A. J. Aston
Reporting to you live from the United States(alt)

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