How does a good ruler govern? Can one really be better than the other? While the minutiae of the modern news cycle flurries around the stage of “Richard 2012 or The Body Politic: An Election Event Conceived and Performed by Alex Kramer ’13, Charlie Polinger ’13, and Raphael Shapiro ’13, Based on Richard II and the 2012 U.S. Presidential Campaign,” these are the questions that haunt its core.
There are two characters in the play: the Incumbent, Kramer, and the Challenger, Shapiro. Though nebulous, the characters’ personalities roughly reflect an Obama-Romney duality — though there are hints of the much older rivalry of Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke. The News, however, has yet to endorse either candidate. So that you get a view past or at least of the doubletalk that has defined this campaign, the News sent a determined reporter to interview both candidates.
Our reporter found both the Challenger and the Incumbent consumed by election stress. The impact of Hurricane Sandy has thrown both candidates out of the loop and they struggle, though it would be hard to discern any weakness in their toothy smiles, against each other to reclaim lost ground. While the Challenger, perhaps overwhelmed by trying to spin recent comments on binders and bayonets, was indisposed, our reporter did manage to bring you, our faithful readers, an exclusive interview with the Incumbent himself.
Reporter: Mr. President, what would you say, has your administration accomplished so far?
Incumbent: Well, we have made noticeable progress in the last five years. We have grown, truly come together with a unifying spirit and our administration has worked to build a sense of American identity. Though there have been tough times, tough years, we have worked through those tough years to engender a sense of unity.
Reporter: Tough years?
Incumbent: Yes, we inherited a tough economy and had to scrape our way out. There was conflict overseas … and other difficult things. But we want our focus to be at home. We have a responsibility to the world.
Reporter: A responsibility?
Incumbent: Our land is a model to the rest, to other, less happy lands. You could say we stand for something, almost a Garden of Eden.
Reporter: Are you saying that our land is an exception?
Incumbent: No. I don’t want to say exception. Exception is limiting. No, we have a responsibility to the rest of the world to infuse their possibility with our hope.
Reporter: Speaking of tough times, do you see any change in your policy if you are re-elected?
Incumbent: Depends on how you frame the idea of change. If change is continuing progress, then yes, I stand by that. I stand by the choices I’ve made, and I stand by how I’ve responded to crisis. Why would we deny what we have done? I would never reverse the change we have accomplished.
Reporter: How would you speak to criticism against you? Were you making the best of bad conditions?
Incumbent: Yes, the state was in turmoil, I did the best with what little I was given. Do you know the difference between the body politic and the body natural?
Reporter: Elucidate me.
Incumbent: Well, the body politic is the state itself, a representation of everyone, which any ruler is supposed to embody, and the body natural is an individual, which a ruler is also supposed to be. It’s tough to unite the two.
Reporter: Do you think you could resolve the two in a future term?
[At this moment, the Incumbent is swept back into a crowd of whirring cameras and shutter flashes, the standard of the election cycle. He is distracted from his response by a harried assistant. He promises he’ll have one later, someday.]