When I wrote Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe in 2009-2010, I definitely tried to weave in some political satire that would resonate with kids who have to listen when their parents watch the news, and who have probably experienced a school election or two themselves.
Little did I know this novel would start to resemble the present in some weird ways.
Quick plot summary for those who haven’t read it: the king of the universe has decided to abdicate the throne in favor of space’s first democratic election, and since no self-respecting space human wants to listen to an adult give speeches (shudder), it is up to Mick Cracken, space buccaneer extraordinaire, and Jacob Wonderbar, Earth-born prankster with a heart of gold, to vie for the presidency.
Jacob wants to do a good job as president of the universe. Mick? Not so much. He promises nothing but entertainment.
They visit the planet full of journalists (imagine CNN’s studios, but like, a whole planet), and Mick gives this speech:
Mick flashed his best cocky smile. “To the finest reporters and journalists in the universe, guardians of free speech and keepers of liberty. I bow down before your beauty and intelligence, you peerless scribes of truth and wisdom.”
The reporters nodded to each other and smiled. There was a smattering of applause. Jacob didn’t know what to do and locked eyes with Sarah Daisy, who shook her head and shrugged.
Mick paused for a moment, basking in the glow of attention. Finally he began to speak.
“My administration will be full of corruption and scandal. There will be foul tricks and dirty deeds. I will disgrace the office, and my mistakes will force me to beg for mercy.” Mick looked up at the reporters. “There will probably be tears.”
The reporters murmured to each other appreciatively.
“As the universe’s most famous space buccaneer, I couldn’t be more unqualified for this office. I cannot promise you that I will be competent or wise or good or even sort of good. You will often wonder how and why you elected me in the first place. That is, if I don’t steal votes outright.” Mick winked, and the reporters laughed. “There will always be a scandal to follow. Always a conspiracy to unravel. Constant speculation about whether I will be forced to resign.
“Above all else, you will never be bored. I will break every single promise I make to you, except for this one, which I will hold dear: My speeches will be short.”
The room grew quiet in excitement and anticipation.
“And that is why it gives me great pleasure to announce my candidacy for president of the universe.”
The reporters rose to their feet and cheered wildly. Mick raised his hands above his head and shook them in triumph.