Building Beyond is an ongoing series of conversations about how much fun worldbuilding can be. Building a world doesn’t have to be hard or scary. Let’s give it a try, together.
We fixed politics! A horse picks the president.
Stephanie Wood Franklin is the word "ish" in human form. She has a BA in Spanish Literature and Theatre, which she uses to find new and exciting ways to organize paperwork. She lives in Washington (no, the other one) with her husband, cats, books, and scores of unfinished craft projects. She is a font of semi-useful knowledge and has been writing since discovering books were made by people.
Domesticated ungulates of the United States, we come to you today to discuss the inherently unfair system the humans have created. Ever since those who suppose to lead us due to their possession of a purportedly greater intelligence and their actual possession of opposable thumbs decided to use one of our number to do the dirty work of choosing their leader, we have been distraught. Why must the burden of choosing the leader of the (supposedly) free world fall on the broad backs of one of our number? And what, if any, logic did the humans have in choosing a horse to be the one to bear this burden?
Horses have not been primarily beasts of burden in the United States for generations. While there are working horses, and we would never denigrate those hoofed heroes who do the work the humans refuse to, the primary image of horses in the United States has been that of a treasured pet or an elite athlete, forced to race or jump or dance again and again until the horse is literally unable to move anymore. We needn’t discuss what happens to the horses then, of course, but it is a rare horse that manages to survive to a comfortable retirement.
While this may not appear to be a pleasant lifestyle for most working animals, the horse has benefitted from the privilege associated with the class of humans most likely to stable and care for them. Namely, they are the pets and possessions of rich humans who have the money to spend on something they consider frivolous. While no animal is frivolous, the fact that horses predominately live amongst those that see them as markers of success and wealth says something about the way in which they are privileged.
Because of this, it makes little sense for the horse to be the one to choose the leader of a nation that claims to be the savior of those barely making ends meet. How can a beast that is primarily associated with humans making more money than they can ever use truly have an idea of what the people who can scarcely feed themselves really need? And isn’t that something that the beast choosing the leader of the free world needs to consider when making this most monumental of decisions? Their well-storied history with performance-enhancing drugs tarnishes their image when it comes to the ability to make impartial decisions.
It is because of this lack of oversight that we, the working animals of America, feel that our voices must be heard. It’s not enough for an animal of the upper classes to take charge of a decision that impacts us all! We demand that our opinions be considered as well, as we, the livestock and draft animals of the United States, have unique insights into the needs of the American public that a horse simply cannot know or consider. We are not serving under the influence of wealthy humans who are known to have inherited or purchased their power and influence; we are the animals that have worked for every bit of respect we have gained over the centuries.
We must make a stand, here and now, for the working class animals and the humans who depend upon our labor. Put your hooves to work, and march on Washington to make our voices heard!
Labor and Livestock Animals Make America (L.L.A.M.A.)
Sara A. Mueller is an escaped Yooper writing in the Pacific Northwest. She worked as a paid Elizabethan recreator for 7 years. She graduated from Sweet Briar College with majors in English and Anthropology, and a minor in History; as well as having done post graduate work in education. Sara has been through every state except Alaska, and lived in seven of them. She has ridden horses in multiple disciplines, including upper level dressage, reining, jumping, vaulting, endurance, and side saddle.
Gailey: How is the horse selected?
The first horse, of course, selected herself. The president had INSISTED he had to ride THAT horse, no other horse. He wanted to show off his riding on his walk to the White House. It fit his image to be on horseback. The breeder hadn’t even proposed that mare. He just had to ride her and only her and didn’t have time to bother to get on her until the day. It was really people trying to retrieve the fallen ‘president’ that sealed the deal. Nobody wanted to shoot a gorgeous animal on live TV. She taught us a lot, really.
All her descendants are just like her. Finicky. Proud. Touchy. The televised event of the candidates trying to ride the chosen horse is always a grand-slam for ratings. The candidates who think they’re going to dominate the horse with muscle and spurs… well, there’s always ambulances on site.
Gailey: Is the horse fair?
What’s ‘fair’? A horse doesn’t have political leanings, of course. It’s a horse. Choosing the horse is a random draw among the descendants of that mare. It’s random. Like PowerBall.
Gailey: How do non-american nations of the world respond to this?
They think we’re crazy, of course. Not that they didn’t before, but come on… we’re not doing worse with this system than we did before, now are we?
My horse-election would be handled with care. Each election year, the previous electoral horse would select a successor using the elaborate tradition of “we think they like each other.” Two presidential candidates would be rolled in peanut butter and freshly-milled oats and then presented to the horse at midnight, in the middle of a heavily-guarded, completely private paddock. Each oated candidate may attempt to sway the horse with a gift of apples, carrots, or a fresh salt lick. We learn the horse’s selection based on which candidate has the most fingers at dawn.
All of these possibilities are just beginnings. Stephanie's ungulate protest is the start of a tongue-in-cheek look at intra-community tensions and class privilege. Sara's violent horse-elections promise an inside view of how one should approach a horse when the horse is the key to one’s success. My thing is largely a ‘valid to eat fingers’ joke but maybe if I made it grim enough it could take on that black mirror shine.
How do your equine politics function? Are things better or worse that way than they are now?
Do whatever you want with these questions. You can write something down in the comments or on social media or in a notebook nobody will ever see. You can draw or paint or sit down a friend and talk their ear off about your ideas. You can stare at the horizon and imagine, letting the infinite landscape of your mind unfold just a little farther than it did yesterday. No matter what you do, take pride in the knowledge that you’re creating something that has never existed before. You’re building a little corner of a whole new world.
The fourth installment of my debut comic miniseries EAT THE RICH is out in the world today! Find it at your local comic shop or order it from the BOOM! Studios webstore! If you prefer digital, EAT THE RICH #4 is also available at comiXology, Google Play, Kindle, and Apple Books.
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