CHIEF ARCHON KLARISSA KUTTU: THE EXIT INTERVIEW
In her only exit interview, The Park’s 2017 Chief Archon, Klarissa Escalade Kuttu—whose term ends on Tuesday—told The Mammalian Daily that she was misrepresented as anti-Human by the press and others and that she feels her realism is “ahead of its time.”
We sat down with Chief Archon Klarissa E. Kuttu earlier this month to discuss zoocracy, the expectations of government, and her hopes for the future of The Park and Animal self-rule.
TMD: Thank you, Chief Archon Kuttu, for sitting down with us today.
KEK: Thank you for inviting me. I’m happy to talk to you today.
TMD: Chief Archon Kuttu, I think it’s safe to say that the expectations placed on a new Chief Archon are enormous and so must be the pressure of that, as well. Would you agree?
KEK: Yes, I do agree, though I wouldn’t agree if you’d said, “unreasonable” expectations. I think it’s fair for The Park’s citizens to expect a lot from their government and when we come up short, it’s also fair for them to criticize us.
TMD: Which leads me to this question, if you don’t mind: according to some polls, you have been one of the most unpopular Chief Archons in the history of zoocracy. What do you make of that and how much responsibility do you take? Was it a failure of communication? A misunderstanding?
KEK: I noticed you said some polls and, if you hadn’t, I would object. But, yes, there were some polls—and obviously, many Park citizens—who disagreed with me vehemently, though I doubt they would have said I didn’t have The Park’s best interests in mind.
I believe strongly that many of the controversies during my term were due to the misrepresentation of me by the press and others. I don’t think you can deny that I was depicted as anti-Human, which was at best unhelpful and at worst, damaging to progress in The Park. And, yes, I do take some responsibility for the misunderstanding of my views and policies. Clearly, I did not explain myself well enough. But, even more than that, I misread the state of mind of the citizenry.
TMD: In what way?
KEK: We have had some trying times in the past few years and I admit I didn’t realize to what extent that had affected the emotional and mental outlook of Park Animals. I didn’t understand their very real desire for calm and stability. My term as Chief Archon should have reflected that and responded to it. Instead, I wanted to charge ahead with ideas that Park Animals simply weren’t ready for. And, here, you really do have to keep in mind the pace of any Park government. We are selected by lottery, we have twelve months to deal with all aspects of running The Park. Ninety percent of those aspects, I would say, we have no idea of until we get here. In some ways, it’s a crazy way to govern.
TMD: Are you saying that zoocracy doesn’t work?
KEK: Of course not. What I am saying, though, is that it was designed in a much simpler time, and for a much simpler purpose. It was designed so that we could take control of our lives and our property. Thirty-five years ago, no Animal could have imagined the challenges we face today. We are in desperate need of modernization, and not just of our government, but of our state of mind. And I tried to bring that to my Archonship, but it was too early. I see that now. We need to ease into these things, but I butted ahead with them and we see the results. Or lack of results.
TMD: For the record, though, are you anti-Human?
KEK: I am not “anti” any species. But I am a realist. And, in many ways, my realism was ahead of its time. Humans hold an enormous amount of power in the world. And, if we’re to be honest, they do still hold power over us in The Park. It’s an imbalance that I felt and still feel is untenable and I tried to change that with what I considered would be simple tweaks. But, as it turns out, they weren’t simple at all. And they became my grand mistakes.
TMD: Such as restricting trade with Humans and ending Human tourism?
KEK: Among the many, yes.
TMD: Which others?
KEK: I’ll leave that for you and for The Park’s many political commentators to mull over and, perhaps, write books about.
TMD: What would you consider your greatest failure?
KEK: I have said this before and I’ll say it again: my government’s failure to find a suitable head of Park Finance—a suitable budget chief—and to prepare a 2018 budget. I think that might be the greatest failure.
TMD: And your greatest success?
KEK: I would like to think that I did bring some awareness of the threat that we face from Humans, as well as from other species. And from ourselves. I would like to think that we are now more aware than ever of the fragility of Animal self-rule and that we might stop either taking it for granted or revering it unrealistically.
TMD: Are we in danger of losing it?
KEK: I think we are always in danger of losing it. Nothing is forever and as we have seen from Human society, things can go backwards. It doesn’t take much. We must guard what we value and continue to value what we guard. To hold it dear. Otherwise, who knows what can happen.
TMD: Now that you’re no longer in government, what does your future hold?
KEK: I hope it will hold peace. And friendship. But I also want to stay involved. I would never retreat from the political sphere entirely, now that I’ve learned so much.
TMD: Would you serve another term?
KEK: Yes, I would. And I, too, believe in longer terms and when I’ve rested up a bit, I will be prepared to fight for that. One year is not long enough.
TMD: Two years?
KEK: Maybe even three. Whatever the citizenry can bear. It will be a long haul to change the rules, but I do believe in long haul government. [laughing]
TMD: Chief Archon, it really has been a pleasure to talk to you today. We all in The Park wish you well in the future. And we want to express our deep gratitude for your work in the service of zoocracy and The Park.
KEK: The pleasure has been mine, in moving zoocracy to its next phase and in sitting here with you to talk about it. I’ll see you at the swearing-in on January 16 and again on Groundhog Day.