CHIEF ARCHON IOLANA CAMIRA WHOOPING CRANE: THE EXIT INTERVIEW
In her only exit interview, The Park’s 2018 Chief Archon, Iolana Camira Whooping Crane—whose term ends on Wednesday—told The Mammalian Daily that her work on establishing an “Enough Economy” in The Park was misrepresented by the press and by some political factions. Nonetheless, she stands by her ideas and hopes the incoming Archons will build on them.
We sat down with Chief Archon Iolana C. Whooping Crane earlier this month to discuss zoocracy, the economy, what government can and cannot do, and her hopes for the future of The Park.
TMD: Thank you, Chief Archon Whooping Crane, for sitting down with us today.
IWC: Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be here.
TMD: Chief Archon Whooping Crane, I think it’s safe to say that it’s the hope of most, if not all, Chief Archons to leave a legacy. This is a two-part question, it seems. First, I’d like to know, is that something you think about at the beginning of your term? When you find out you’ve been elected Chief Archon by the other thirty-four Archons, do you think to yourself, “This is what I want to achieve in the coming year?”
IWC: I will agree with you about legacy, but not in personal terms. Everything we do, we do for the betterment of The Park as a whole, and we only have one year in which to do it. So, it’s about setting something in motion, rather than seeing it to a conclusion. But most governing is that, isn’t it? You can’t be short-sighted. There is no end point; you are simply laying down a set of tracks that you hope will be trod upon and continued to be built by those who follow you. But you’re correct in the sense that each of us, in this small club we call the Chief Archons Club, has certain ideas that seem so important that we feel they should take precedence over others. And, sometimes, those ideas, or the solutions to certain problems, invariably become our legacy. So, to answer your question, no, we do not jump for joy when we are elected and think to ourselves, “Wonderful! I’m going to get the chance to work on my dream project!” Governing is a much more serious and onerous task than that. All too often, events or circumstances that are beyond your control decide for you what your priority is and you have to be able to react to them in a timely fashion. As a result, it is that reaction that becomes your legacy.
TMD: The second part of my question must seem obvious to you: what would you like your own legacy to be?
IWC: I think it’s inevitable that my legacy will be connected to the economy and, of course, to the fact that I introduced the concept of “enough,” not only to The Park generally, but to the budget, as well. And I am proud of that.
TMD: I’m going to ask you a question that many have been afraid to: are you against economic growth in The Park?
IWC: I don’t know why that question hasn’t been asked, but I’m happy to answer it now. I am in favour of sustainable, responsible economic growth in The Park. I am not in favour of unfettered growth or growth that leaves some Animals or species of Animals behind. And I am not in favour of growth that imperils the environment, pits some species against others, or is simply production or consumerism with no end point other than a financial one. Is that clear?
TMD: I would say that is very clear, but is it realistic?
IWC: Anything is realistic if you are willing to take responsibility for its execution. If you are not, then nothing is realistic, and you are free to blame outside forces.
TMD: That’s a strong opinion.
IWC: And would you have me express a weak opinion?
TMD: No, of course not.
TMD: How did you feel when your “enough” approach—your very serious argument about sustainability—became the “BastaBudget?” Did you feel it demeaned your idea?
IWC: No, I didn’t and I don’t now. New ideas are incredibly hard for many to digest. It takes a long period of adjustment and, even then, many are not capable of incorporating them into their world view. Whether we like it or not, something like the “BastaBudget,” a catchy phrase that may seem negative to some, helps the idea along. It fastens it securely in the mind. And, in a way, I did start it, by introducing the idea of the “enough economy.”
TMD: Did you intend to do that?
IWC: Intend to do what?
TMD: Intend to use linguistic tools to change minds about The Park’s economy?
IWC: You make me sound manipulative.
TMD: That wasn’t the intention.
IWC: In the first place, I did not come to office intending to do anything radical about the economy. As I said, you assume the office with the best of intentions. And most of my interests weren’t economic to begin with. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that The Park was headed on a path that was not only unsustainable, it was downright dangerous. As Noreen says, one need only look to the Human world to see the results of bad policies. So, I reacted to the situation in what I believe was a reasonable fashion. I said, hold on, we cannot just continue doing what we’ve been doing. We will lose control of everything, including our ability to govern our own land. But I did not set out to be the face of a new movement.
TMD: Would you say you were successful in changing minds?
IWC: History will make that judgement. I believe I was successful in laying the groundwork for change. Given that we only have a year in office, I would say that that was not a small thing.
TMD: In our discussion today, you make the whole “enough” concept seem so benign. But you were vilified during most of your term.
IWC: That didn’t surprise me. I think the press—many in the press—did their best to turn my words against me and to fight my ideas. The “Enough Economy” was so misrepresented in the Park press that I just began to ignore it. Why bother fighting it out with the media? It seemed to me that many had chosen to serve the interests of anti-sortitionists, to make it appear that I was incompetent and only an elected government should be able to make such sweeping changes as I felt were necessary.
TMD: I understand why you say that and, yes, there were many who questioned your competency. But, as I’m sure you know, in a series of year-end polls, you surpassed all other Chief Archons in two areas: most disliked and most intelligent. Do you find those two to be at odds with each other?
IWC: It does seem strange, as if I’m less incompetent and more diabolical. As for being disliked, as I’m sure you expect me to say, it is not a popularity contest. There were many Park residents who agreed with my ideas. And many who had had the same ideas, themselves. A good citizen considers all ideas and makes sound, informed judgements. Our founder, Jor, ran into a great deal of resistance. And he had many enemies, if the biographies are to be believed. So, the polls don’t matter so long as we’re moving in the right direction.
TMD: You mentioned Noreen a while back. What influence, if any, did she have on you?
IWC: Noreen is a dear friend and she served as an unofficial advisor to me. We met a few times over the course of the year and she updated me on a variety of things regarding the Human world. The breadth of her knowledge when it comes to Humans is remarkable.
TMD: As of January 16, you will be a private citizen of The Park. What are your plans, immediate and long-term?
IWC: I’ll be going south for a rest after Groundhog Day, but I’ll be back in the Spring. I have a number of projects that I want to work on, some on my own and some collaboratively. I’m going to join my predecessor, Klarissa Kuttu, in the fight for longer terms. One year is simply not enough time to effect meaningful change.
TMD: What would you or will you say to the incoming Chief Archon?
IWC: I wish the incoming Chief Archon the best of luck. We don’t know who it is, but we do know the burden they will bear. We don’t advise each other, but I would encourage any Archon, Chief or not, to seek as much advice and opinion from others as possible.
TMD: May I say, Chief Archon Whooping Crane, on behalf of all Park citizens, thank you for your work and your service to zoocracy and The Park. We wish you peace and happiness in your new life.
IWC: Thank you so much. I wish the same for you.