Episode 16

Rebecca Gets Popular

 Rebecca keeps doing interviews. She’s on TV, radio, and in the papers. The ARP makes the Bernie Sanders phenomenon look like a private party. ARP’s website gets a million hits a day. Rebecca has many millions following her on Twitter. In September she appears in a Saturday Night Live skit dealing with the (imagined) fact that she has just won the presidency as a write-in candidate. That skit, featuring Rebecca making fun of herself and the first steps she would take as president, instantly goes up on YouTube and goes viral around the world. Rebecca is a genuine global celebrity. Her beauty, brains, openness, and purity are irresistible. Even people with no interest in politics show up to hear her wherever she speaks. She mostly appears in stadiums now.

Best of all, from Rebecca’s point of view, ARP chapters are springing up in every little town and village across the country. These chapters are selecting candidates for mayor, city council, state assembly, and other local elections.  Though the 2016 presidential election is still months away, a few ARP candidates win special elections in small communities. 

Whenever an ARP candidate wins, or even if a candidate appears to have a good chance of winning, the national ARP office sends a consultant to make sure the new representative fully understands ARP principles and methods. This training, combined with the fact that most people who want to be ARP candidates are good mediators, is leading to amazing results in town after town. ARP is growing in numbers and influence far faster than Rebecca had imagined. She begins to think 2020 might be feasible. 

 Then, in Austin, Texas, newly elected ARP city councilwoman Paulette Wellstone is shot down in her driveway. Rebecca immediately rushes to Austin. That night the evening news shows Rebecca with Paulette’s husband, Roger, her two children, and mother, Marjorie. The reporter asks Roger for a comment. He tries, but breaks down in tears. He turns to hug his children. 

Rebecca steps in. Indicating Paulette’s grieving family, she says, “This is pain. You are looking at grief and suffering. This is what happens when people lose someone they love. The bullet that killed Paulette hurt this whole family terribly, and this pain is what happens whenever people try to win something or get something they want without thinking about what they are doing to their opponents or rivals or victims. 

The person who shot Paulette, and we don’t yet know who it was, probably thought he was doing a good thing for the world. He may believe that Paulette is evil. Maybe he believes the ARP is evil. I can understand that. We’re causing changes, big changes. We’re creating turmoil in American society. But we’re not trying to hurt anyone. We’re trying to bring us all together to figure out how we can live together safely, sustainably, and happily. We’re not trying to do any specific thing. We’re not trying to get anything or win anything. We try to win elections, but that’s only to change what it means to win. We’re changing how we make decisions because the adversarial win-lose decision-making process we use now produces the kind of animosity, fear and rage that led someone to shoot Paulette. No one in our society should be that frightened or angry, and they wouldn’t be if we did a better job of solving problems in ways that satisfy and benefit all of us. 

 Paulette took an enormous cut in salary to become your city councilwoman. She opened her bankbook so you could see that she wasn’t hiding anything. She did this because she wanted to help you, all of you, every one of you, to get what you need. I know some of you think she was a communist, but she was a mediator, a helper. All she wanted to do was help your city make decisions in a way that is open, transparent, honest, and inclusive, that is, a way that includes everyone who will be affected by the decision. If you hate that, you don’t understand it. Either that, or you’re doing something illegal, or you’re taking more than your fair share. Or, possibly, you believe that rich people are better so they should run our society. Or maybe you think white people are better and shouldn’t have to share equally with people who aren’t white. If you are any of these people, let me just beg you. Please, please don’t kill. Even if you are furious about something, don’t kill. Every time someone is murdered, the waves of rage and pain spread through the whole community. This rage and pain and the fear they produce are our worst enemies. They make all of us crazy. They turn us into enemies. 

If you know the young man who killed Paulette, and I’m assuming it was a young man because it usually is, please persuade him to give himself up before he kills again. He is so full of pain that he’s bound to hurt himself or someone else. And please, no matter what you think of ARP, let’s play the game of politics by the rules. Anyone who kills or uses any sort of violence is not just destroying their rivals, they’re destroying the game itself. Anyone who kills to make society better is guaranteeing that society will get worse. Our society is already too full of pain, rage and fear. We need to be decent human beings living in decent human communities or we can’t possibly make things better. 

I beg you to do everything you can to turn your community away from violence and toward decent human behavior. We teach our children to share, to be nice, not to hit, not to fight. We do this because we think civilized behavior is good for everyone, and it is. The only way we’re going to solve any of the serious problems facing our community, our nation and our planet is by treating each other decently, which means solving our problems with solutions that work for all of us, not just a few. And that is all ARP is trying to do. We’re not trying to win anything other than the elections, and we’re winning elections to prevent winning. We’re genuinely trying to help us all get what we need and want. So please, let’s make Paulette’s death mean something. Let’s stop hating. Let’s stop hurting. Let’s stop killing. Let’s start making things better. Please.” 

By the end of Rebecca’s appeal, even the reporter is shedding tears. The broadcast goes viral. A few days later, Ron Townsend turns himself in. His appearance on TV is even more astounding. 

“Just to confirm, did you kill Paulette Wellstone?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why?”

“I was in a group of people who hate ARP. They all wanted to kill Whyte, so I figured I’d be the one.

“Why do they hate ARP?” 

“For one thing, it’s run by a nigger. For another, it’s a fad with liberals, queers, niggers, spics, and all the lower elements taking down our country. Besides, it’s a lie. They say they aren’t trying to get rich and take power, but they are. Everyone is. It’s human nature. They’re just tricking us, and once they get power, they’ll destroy our society. This is what they think, and it’s what I thought.”

“So why did you turn yourself in?”

“I saw Ms. Whyte on TV. Something about her impressed me and made me think I absolutely had to find out the truth about her. I went to the Anytown website and watched some of her speeches. I watched how government there works. I read their manifesto. Then I talked to my brother-in-law, who likes ARP and always talks about them. He convinced me they’re really what they say they are; they’re taking power to help us all work together better. After talking to him, I got sick, like someone slammed me in the stomach. It took me a couple days to recover, and I know I never will really recover. I did a terrible thing. I can’t believe I did it. I hate that I did it, and I hope I get the death penalty, the sooner the better.”

Townsend’s facial expressions and body language are completely congruent with the story he tells. This broadcast, too, goes viral. Roger Wellstone goes to the jail and asks to meet with Ron. The film of that meeting is not released, but Roger speaks to reporters as he emerges from the jail. 

“I cannot imagine anyone doing more damage to me and my family than Ron Townsend, but I can see and feel he’s suffering too, suffering terribly. I can actually feel him suffering, and that helps me forgive him for mine. I plan to work for his early release. As soon as possible, I’d like to hire him into The Bridge, a status offender diversion project where I serve on the board of directors. I believe he’d make an excellent counselor for young people struggling with the kind of rage and pain he knows only too well. If he performs as I expect him to, Paulette’s death will have served this community in a profound way. Paulette was completely nonviolent. She always talked about breaking the chains of hatred and revenge as the only way to make life better for all of us.  At this point, I’m afraid that’s all I can hope for, but here in the depths of despair, hope is more precious than gold.” 

Rebecca’s decent human response to the inhumane act of a winner sets off a powerful chain reaction of decentness streaking through the country and around the world. Crime rates drop dramatically. Fighting, even in the Middle East, falls precipitously. Peace and love are on the verge of a break out that could infect the entire human family. Even hardcore warmongering winners are not immune. They are terrified. 

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