The observation of Groundhog Day has its roots deep in the Animal tradition of weather prognostication. The Park’s elaborate, all-day celebration of this important day attracts record crowds annually.
But modern Park life has endowed the day with a political significance, as well. Park citizens, eager to discover what the new year has in store for them, await the annual Archons’ address, the first speech given by the 35 newly-selected Archons.
Let’s focus on the Archons’ address.
THE ARCHONS: WHO ARE THEY?
Each cohort of thirty-five Archons constitutes The Park’s government for a period of one year. The individual Archons hail from every species of citizen in The Park and they are chosen each year through the process known as sortition (lottery).
While their names are announced on January 15, they make their first appearance before The Park’s citizenry on January 16, the day on which they are sworn in. After the ceremony, the Archons go into seclusion and are neither seen nor heard from until Groundhog Day on February 2.
HOW DO THEY DECIDE WHAT TO SAY IN THEIR ADDRESS?
During those sixteen days, the Archons have a chance to get to know each other and to discover each other’s attitudes and opinions regarding the direction in which The Park should move. Economic, social, and health-related issues are the subject of robust discussion and it is through this process of discussion and debate that the Archons develop their agenda for the year.
Ideally, this agenda (which literally means “things to be done”) should address Park citizens’ most pressing needs and concerns. When the governing collective has made its final decision on the important issues that it will address during its tenure, it is ready to draft the Groundhog Day speech.
WHY THE SPEECH IS IMPORTANT TO PARK CITIZENS
Park citizens know virtually nothing about the members of their new government, even as they watch them being sworn in. While many may be acquainted with them personally, it is not likely they know with any certainty where these Animals stand on the important issues that face The Park.
As the Chief Archon reads the speech, she or he reveals the concerns and beliefs of the governing collective and lays the groundwork for the changes that it will attempt to make over the coming year.
That is why the Archons’ address, given on Groundhog Day, is so important to Park citizens.
WHAT PARK ANIMALS ARE LISTENING FOR
The Archons’ address does more than simply list a number of items that are of concern to the Archons or that they hope to act on during their tenure. The speech sets the tone for the new administration and for the relationship it will have with Park citizens.
What Park Animals are listening for are indications that the Archons are not only in tune with their concerns but that they will be open to input from the citizenry. Most who reside in The Park would agree that this is what makes good government.