The Moderates

Image by Nathaniel St. Clair

A multibillionaire met his first appointment of the day, a political candidate looking for a donation to his party before an upcoming election. “So just where do you stand on taxes”, the billionaire inquired of his guest as they were waiting for the pheasant soufflé to arrive.

“Well, Sir, our party doesn’t believe that wealth creators should be taxed at all”.

“Excellent”, the billionaire said as he rubbed his gnarled fingertips together in glee. “May I ask what your stance is on fossil fuels?”

“We are wholly committed, Sir, to extracting every last drop of them. We fully intend to push pipelines wherever we damn please. Preferably up the asses of the Chinese, if you’ll pardon my French. As for the so-called endangered species and coral reefs, they can complain to the Board of Extinction . As far as we’re concerned, they can get in line behind the autoworkers, licensed taxi drivers, and brick-and-mortar retail staff.”

After a hearty, minute-long chuckle, the billionaire composed himself and barked, “Nuclear Disarmament!”

“For anyone who threatens our hegemony.” The candidate had the wherewithal to resist making an extended arm salute. “Otherwise we’re cool with an undeclared arsenal in the hands of a bugged out ally who might just launch them – with our blessing, of course, – rather than face impending prosecution for corruption.”

The billionaire leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, “Speaking of which . . . ?”

Without missing a beat, his guest replied, “We fully intend to increase Israel’s military aid significantly and declare all Arabs enemy combatants. We will encourage more settlements in the quote, unquote occupied territories and replace financial aid to the Palestinians with raw sewage. We solemnly swear not to allow any criticism of the Only Democracy in the Middle East to go unpunished . . . even the mildest offenders will face career death at the hands of a social media firing squad.”

“I’m beginning to like you even more, Kid,” the billionaire muttered as he ordered yet another bottle of a Chateau Margaux robotically pried from the hands of a Titanic passenger. I trust your views on our great ally Saudi Arabia are similarly enlightened”?

“No one will slobber on the outstretched ring finger of the Great Bin Salman more ardently than I, Sir. I will make our own security apparatus fully at his disposal so that it can officially determine benign intent at every crime scene where a Muslim Brotherhood operative is dismembered by the rogue minions of the innocent reformer.”

“So you’re not squeamish about Yemen, I take it.”

Slightly emboldened by the 1897 vintage whose last dregs formed a brackish blood circle around his mouth, the candidate answered with a rhetorical flourish: “What do you call the time before the Stone Age? We plan to bomb them back to that.”

“Afghanistan? Iraq?”



“Ditto squared”.

“Putin,” he ventured cautiously.

“Blame him for weaponizing social media and using it to gas Syrians”. Here, he said, handing over an envelope. “I’ve laid out our policy on Russia and North Korea with a series of homophobic memes. Feel free to share.”

“Venezuela”, the billionaire barked, not caring now who could hear him.

“We see the World Bank partnering with our top SEAL teams to pry the last vestiges of oil wealth from the mouths of impoverished children. Then we’ll plant tiny kitten skulls in the basement of Maduro’s . . . (ahem) opulent palace before we raid the place. That way we’ll have PETA and the Pussy Hats on board with another military invasion of a sovereign country unwilling to play nice with Exxon.”

“I’m liking it. Go on”, the billionaire prompted in the same tone he used on his ‘sugar baby, Sveltlana97, aka Elon Musk, who had been catfishing his former mentor to keep Tesla afloat.

“Our experts have determined anyway”, his interlocutor continued, the guy is actually Saddam Hussein. Managed to tunnel his way from a Baghdad prison cell into Caracas using Hezbollah’s main supply route. Might have gotten away with it, but decided to keep the mustache.”

“Well, I’m almost convinced of your party’s commitment to making this country great once again, but I need to know where you stand on domestic policy. I hate to think of the taxes I don’t pay being used to provide lifesaving medications to . . . ”

“If you can twerk, then we say . . . you can WORK, . . . if you get my drift.”

The billionaire scanned the room, hoping to not to catch a glance of Oprah and Gayle at the next table.

“To put it bluntly, Sir, we believe in healthcare for all”, the candidate said with a barely concealed smirk beneath the deadpan.

Before the billionaire could spit out his white rhino tartar with a spritz of yuzu and truffle vinaigrette, his now thoroughly sated guest, pausing for greater effect blurted out “Purchased with pay day loans and foreclosed houses! . . . Booyah!”

“Booyah back atcha”, the billionaire snorted, proffering a spotty, heavily veined fist for his first ever fist bump. You had me fooled there for a nanosecond. Now tell me, young man, who do I write this five million dollar cheque to? What is the name of your organization?”

“The Moderates.”

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Jennifer Matsui is a writer living in Tokyo.

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