1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – Snippet 51

"Way back when we – well, not me as a part of 'we' because I sure wasn't on the committee – but when the constitutional subcommittee of the Emergency Committee drew up the NUS constitution, back in 1631, Grantville wasn't setting up a parliament. Our constitution sets up a congress. It's turned into a state legislature for all practical purposes, now that we're a province of the USE, but we're still calling it 'congress' and it's still organized pretty much the same. With a 'house and senate' structure, except -"

"How many 'excepts' are there going to be?" Joe asked.

"A lot. If you'll just let me finish what I'm saying now . . ." Mary Kat sighed. "Sorry, Joe. I'm getting frazzled."

"I'm frazzling you. Sorry, go ahead. I'll keep my mouth shut."

"In the deal that Mike and Gustavus Adolphus made after the Croat Raid in 1632, Gustavus Adolphus, back when he was the Captain General and not the emperor yet, made Mike agree that the NUS had to have a House of Lords. Except not like the English House of Lords, where guys got to come just because they had titles. That would never have worked, because the German noble houses don't use primogeniture."

Joe broke his promise and opened his mouth. "What the hell's that?"

"Oldest son takes it all. That's too simple, but not-too-simple would take all night to explain. In England, just the one guy was noble. In the Germanies, all the sons and daughters are noble. We'd have ended up looking like Poland or someplace if we'd let them all into the NUS House of Lords. So the House of Lords that Ms. Mailey – it was her, really – designed was more like the Chamber of Princes. Not every noble in the NUS had a seat in it. If the place being represented had a ruling count or duke or something, he was automatically in it."

She waved across the room. "Like Count Ludwig Guenther for Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt when it joined the NUS, or Margrave Christian of Bayreuth, now, after the Ram Rebellion. But for Grantville, and Badenburg, and other places without lords that joined the NUS, the person elected to the House of Lords could be a commoner and was called a senator. Like Becky. Didn't have to be a noble. Plus, nobles who weren't rulers didn't have a seat in the House of Lords. Just the ones who used to be in the Reichstag."

"Okay," Tony Adducci said.

Joe Stull shook his head. "Not okay by me. I'm getting a headache already."

Mary Kat stood up. "And, now, here's the point, so pay attention, Joe. Sort of the reverse, and it's never been amended – just got carried over to the SoTF without change. The constitution that the Emergency Committee drafted didn't say that the president of the NUS had to be a commoner. Just a citizen."

Tony brought his chair forward so hard that the front legs skidded on the hardwood floor of Chad Jenkins' living room. "Oh, God. Why not?"

Chad Jenkins shrugged. "Because it damned well didn't occur to the constitutional subcommittee. We were flying by the seat of our pants, back then, all of us. It just didn't occur to anybody to put in a requirement that the president had to be a commoner."

Missy Jenkins frowned. "Not even to Ms. Mailey?"

Her father shook his head. "Nope. Who dreamed, back then, that any noble was ever going to want to run for president of the NUS?"

Tony's next contribution was, "Flying, fucking, triple-damn."

Mary Kat looked at Countess Emelie a little apologetically. "So. Duke Albrecht's got a grandfathered seat in the SoTF House of Lords. He doesn't have to run for that. Then the Crown Loyalists figured out that he can run for president against Ed, too. Without resigning from the House of Lords, unless he gets elected."

Count Ludwig Guenther nodded. "Which he doesn't have a prayer of doing. The Piazza-Ableidinger ticket is going to win the SoTF in a landslide and the Crown Loyalists know it. Which is why they aren't wasting a viable candidate running against Ed Piazza."

Missy giggled. "Or against Dad, for Becky's seat."

"I am sure," Count Ludwig Guenther said a little sententiously, "that they seriously regret having nominated Marcus von Drachhausen just two weeks before he was arrested for attempted rape. Not to mention the subsequent charges brought against him in the Bolender scandal. They've been playing catch-up ever since, trying to find someone with the sheer gall to accept a belated special nomination."

Joe Stull reached for another beer. "I really can't say that I wish them luck."

In the carriage on the way back to Rudolstadt, Count Ludwig Guenther looked at his wife a little anxiously. "Do you think I should have made my point more forcefully, dear? I meant my statement that I don't think Duke Albrecht wants to run against Piazza for president of the State of Thuringia-Franconia. At all. I am honestly afraid that many of the up-timers are likely to hold it against him personally once the election is over. That will make things much more difficult in the House of Lords, and possibly spill over into the SoTF's ability to influence measures in the USE parliament. Because of the relationship with Wettin. While it's true enough that Albrecht isn't a viable candidate in his own right, his name on the ballot will help with name recognition for Wettin."

Emelie leaned her head against his shoulder. "Why on earth would they hold it against him?"

"Because so many of them, in their hearts, have contempt for the art of government. The art of politics that is, in its essence, compromise. The ability to see that the other side may also have a point. They want a world that comes in black and white; absolute good or absolute evil. They find multiple shades of gray frustrating.

"It is, I think, one of the reasons that I am able, and Gustavus Adolphus, for that matter, is able, to work with Stearns. He, very refreshingly, came to us as an experienced negotiator. In the odd environment of these 'unions,' to be sure, but still with what amounts to extensive experience in diplomacy. He realizes that after the negotiations are over, life must continue. That it is the attitude of 'either we smash them utterly or they will smash us utterly' that drew the Germanies into this disastrous war."

His voice trailed off. "Not to mention the Lutheran theological negotiations of last spring."

Emelie shifted her head, so she could look up. "You mean Stearns understands that a victory, to be secure, must lead to a peace that both sides can bear."

"Precisely. That it is unwise to demonize the other side. Except, of course, in those rare cases when the other side is utterly demonic. But Albrecht of Saxe-Weimar is by no means a demon. Not even an enemy of the Fourth of July Party. Merely, for the duration of this campaign, an opponent."

"But if Prime Minister Stearns understands all this . . . ?"

"There is no way that Stearns can be omnipresent, my dear. He is now an actor on the national – even the international – stage. But we must somehow make sure that the scenes being acted in our provincial theater . . . I am far from sure how to phrase this."

"Remain in harmony with the overall theme of the larger play?"

"Excellent, dearest. Excellent."

"I think the carriage is coming to a halt. We are home."

The count nodded absentmindedly. "I must speak with Piazza. He also, of course, understands negotiations. School boards. Parent-teacher associations. Such a plethora of training grounds for an aspiring participant in the 'great game.' It's a pity that so many of them were politically apathetic."

Emelie smiled as the footman handed her down from the coach. "The 'great game.' Kipling. I have read Kipling, too."