“Okay,” said Mr Nately, nodding in thought. “Well, I assume you’ve been fighting your opposition on matters of policy—tax cuts, health care, immigration—all that sh**?” The prime minister nodded, taken aback somewhat at Mr Nately’s flippancy. “Yeah,” said Mr Nately. “Well you’re wasting your time there. For the average Joe, one political party is as useless as the next. And I wouldn’t bother too much about your likeability—voters can’t tell a saint from an arsehole—and most of the time they don’t care. If you really want to win an election—and win the next ten elections after that—here’s what you do.” He stood and stepped over to Josh; Josh looked up at him with uncertainty. “You take your average voter—” said Mr Nately, raising his thumb and pointing his forefinger in the shape of a gun. He pressed his fingertip to Josh’s forehead and smiled. “—and you shoot him right between the f***in’ eyes.” He placed great emphasis on the f-word as he nudged Josh’s head back with his fingertip.
Both Josh and the prime minister stared at Mr Nately in confusion. Mr Nately calmly returned to his chair and sat down.
“Uh… I’m not sure I follow you,” said the prime minister.
“It’s easy,” said Mr Nately, leaning forward. “You want to emulate the success of your Chinese counterparts? Then you need to understand—your constituents, they’re not valuable voters, or the backbone of society, and they sure as hell aren’t your boss. They’re rats. Dirty, noisy, stupid rats.” He pointed at the prime minister. “And you have to keep them in f***ing line!” He leaned back in his chair, and gave a Josh a glance of disdain.
After a long silence, the prime minister said, “Well, here in Australia we don’t see the people as rats. We see them—”
“Well you’d better start seeing them as rats,” said Mr Nately. “You’re worried. I know, it sounds risky. But here’s the thing—you bring the people into line and most of them will love you for it. You’ll be a god. Yeah, that’s right. And those that hate you… you bury them.”
“What do you mean, ‘bury them’?” asked Josh.
“I mean, you dig a hole, throw them alive into it, and then fill it with concrete.”
Josh swallowed audibly, stewing under Mr Nately’s maniacal stare. He looked at the prime minister for help.
“So… bear with me here,” said the prime minister. “You’re talking about literally killing people—is that right?”
Mr Nately nodded. “You will eliminate the opposition voters. What you do is, you get a bunch of young guys, eager to kick some heads in, and you indoctrinate them. Then you promise them money and girls and a free reign to beat the sh** out of the state’s enemies. Now there’s your own private army. Now, let’s say there’s a town that’s giving you trouble—well, you send your boys in, and they round up a few random people, take them out into the public square and shoot them—string up the bodies for all to see. You think that town’s going to vote against you again? From now on they’re your loyal supporters.”
The prime minister shook his head. “Using fear to get votes is—”
“Common practice,” said Mr Nately. “Using fear to get votes is common practice. Think about every attack ad your party has ever run. It’s all about fear. I’m talking about fear that sticks. Fear for your life. Fear for your family. You shoot a man’s kids in front of him—it’s remarkably powerful.”
“Good grief,” exclaimed the prime minister. “That’s horrendous!”
Josh grew pale and sweaty.
“I mean,” stammered the prime minister, “even if we were to consider that, the backlash would be… well, it would be…”
“Not half as bad as you think,” said Mr Nately. “In a situation like that, people just want to survive. They’re happy to give you their vote if it means staying alive. And what if some revolt? I mean, worst case scenario—how many people are we talking? What’s Australia’s population anyway?”
“About twenty-five million,” wheezed Josh.
“Twenty-five million!” said Mr Nately. “F*** me! That’s a medium sized village in China. If you can’t get twenty-five million under control then you’re beyond my help. I should just go now.” He stood and picked up his briefcase.
“No, wait,” said the prime minister. “Please, sit down. We can control twenty-five million people. It’s just… this is a new concept to us.”
Josh crumpled in half, his face between his knees, and breathed heavily.
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