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FNS PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE TRANSCRIPT
GRAL UNIVERSITY, TELLAR PRIME
Good afternoon and welcome to the Federation News Service’s 2392 Presidential Debate, the last debate of the election cycle and the Federation News Service’s 58th such debate in as many presidential elections.
I’m Maronida Shiir, and I will be moderating today’s debate alongside my colleague Churok, live from Gral University of Tellar Prime.
Here today we have all five major candidates polling at above 10% in an in house Federation wide-election poll, from left to right…
Chief Administrator Narala of Nimbus III.
A woman with firm convictions and an unquenchable drive to get things done, Chief Administrator Narala turned the infamously lawless and failed colony of Nimbus III into something its people could be proud of. Once the poster child of a failed planetary society, Nimbus III is now a thriving galactic hotspot.
(waves as the audience applauds)
It’s great to be here.
Governor Adellia Vor of Axanar.
Elected to the governorship of Axanar at the age of 30, Governor Vor is both the youngest and first human governor to win the office. Running on a progressive and politically asymmetrical platform of multi-culturalism, economic growth and job creation, Governor Vor has exceeded even her own mandates in just two years in office.
She has pruned the government and its institutions of ineffective policies, inept administrators and cut a swath through the bureaucracy for a lean and efficient political machine that has allowed a river of credits to flow into the system. Using these new funds and resources, Governor Vor has invested in building vast amounts of infrastructure and launched an ambitious program to reform the education system.
Thank you for that lovely introduction. You wouldn’t mind if I forward it to my campaign manager?
Not at all, governor.
Next we have Councilor Kevin Steiner of Terra Nova.
A fixture of Federation politics for decades, Councilor Steiner came to prominence in 2373 with his famous “crows” speech delivered on the Federation Council floor, where he passionately declared that “the crows have come home to roost” as the Dominion War broke out.
Before his time in the Federation Council, Councilor Steiner served in the Federation Peace Corps, cultivating a deep appreciation for other cultures. He has repeated time and again that diversity is the Federation’s greatest strength, and that the Federation must not be blind to the ambitions of other powers.
Thank you, Maronida. I’m looking forward to the important discussion ahead.
(gestures to the next candidate on the stage)
Ambassador Lily Ventu.
A former Starfleet Officer with a background in both the mental and physical sciences with several decorations therein, Ambassador Ventu also served as the commanding officer of StarBase 118. She first emerged on the interstellar stage when she resigned her commission to play a role in the formation of the Thracian Alliance.
In three years she has handled over thirty first contact situations and her influence as Ambassador-at-Large to the Galactic West is widely felt in the Menthar Corridor, where she had a major hand in the creation and launch of Astrofori One, a new space station that also serves as a center for diplomacy and mutual cooperation between powers as diverse as the Breen Confederacy and Romulan Star Empire.
(smiles and waves at the crowd)
Thank you, I’m happy to be here.
And finally, Chief of Staff Anari Kthria of Trill.
For the past fifteen years as the Chief of Staff for Trill’s government, Excellency Kthria has served as a national unifying figure to conduct negotiations with other powers. In the aftermath of the Dominion War, Excellency Kthria established the Kalandra Reconstruction Authority, an agency which coordinated the flow of materials among various planetary governments at the sector level.
In light of recent tensions between the core worlds and the outer Federation over competing resources and attention from the Federation Council, Excellency Kthria proposes setting up sector governments and more sector versus planetary commands, designed to facilitate rapid response and a more cohesive Federation government.
(waves to crowd)
Thank you, Maronida. I’m hopeful our debate will be illuminating.
Today’s debate will follow the standard rules as recommended by the Independent Electoral Commission. Candidates will answer a series of questions divided between two sections.
To our audience, if you wish to applaud after a candidate has given a response, you may do so.
The first section will detail foreign policy while the second section will cover domestic and social issues. Besides the questions from the moderator, there will also be time for a few questions asked by members of the audience directly to the candidates.
The questions being asked today have been constructed by the moderators and have been seen by no others. We begin now with foreign policy.
By the virtue of a name drawing the first question goes to Chief Administrator Narala.
Madame Administrator, like others on this stage you have campaigned on domestic issues. However Nimbus III has a unique status, having been co-founded by the Federation, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Star Empire. What kind of foreign policy would you direct as President?
Healthy diplomatic relations is an important thing to have. But we can give and give as much as we want, but in order to achieve *anything*, the other party must be prepared to give as much as they get.
The Federation is stretched thin across our own borders—we need to be able to look after our own just as much as we can our allies.
Do I think we need to keep a healthy foreign policy? Yes. Should it be the first priority at this time? No. I don’t believe so. Because if it’s not broken, it doesn’t need to be fixed. President Bacco’s foreign policy works just fine, and I intend to continue to employ it.
Ambassador Ventu, you are a woman who has many accomplishments in this field and perhaps the most experience. What insights do you feel your service in both Starfleet and the Diplomatic Corps bring and how would this experience direct your foreign policy?
(looks out at the audience for a moment)
After a career as a Starfleet officer and a Federation ambassador, I see time and time again the tendency to embrace confrontation and armed conflict, turning us away from peace and exploration.
To secure the prosperity we have enjoyed in the Federation as we head into the next century requires a firm resolve to not abandon our ideals based on peaceful dialogue and friendship towards those whom we may find ourselves in disagreement with today and those we have yet to meet.
(gives a sideways glance at Ventu)
Councilor Steiner, your quote “hawkish views” on foreign policy are what have brought you into the spotlight on the interstellar stage. Do you think the Federation is currently ignoring any imminent threats to its security? If so, could you name them, and how you would deal with them?
Yes, thank you, Ms. Shiir.
Absolutely, we face imminent threats—numerous ones at that. The current administration has turned a blind eye towards the reality of today’s galaxy, and some on this stage seem ready to follow her.
(looks unimpressed as Steiner continues)
While I admire Ambassador Ventu’s diplomatic tact, the fact is our enemies are researching larger, more powerful weapons and building ever increasing numbers of warships.
Meanwhile, our Starfleet can barely meet the demands of its obligations around the Federation, let alone counter external threats. It’s not the fault of the men and women out there. They’re doing the best they can, but we’re not supporting them.
The Klingon Invasion three years ago showed just how far we’ve fallen behind since the Dominion War. I and other concerned councilors, recognizing this vulnerability, have passed legislation that has increased our shipyard production capacity since then, but we cannot continue to do it alone.
Without executive leadership on this issue, we will remain stagnant while those who would do us harm continue to grow ever bolder.
Excellency Kthria, you oversaw the rebuilding of the Kalandra Sector, similar to Ambassador Ventu, do you think your previous experience interacting with other sector governments gives you comparable experience dealing with foreign powers?
It does, however, I would like to say that I have overseen negotiations with foreign powers as well.
While many will say that working with sector governments is not comparable with working with foreign governments, I’ve found that the art of diplomacy is the same, you just need to know what tools you have, and whom you talk to.
Governor Vor, your accomplishments and experience lie solely in the realm of domestic issues, what would you say to claims that you do not have the experience to deal with foreign leaders and direct relations abroad.
I would say one’s experience is only as valuable as the results one has achieved.
I see impressive resumes here but not the vision to match. Increase our defense spending? Gather all of our enemies for a peace conference? These are hardly bold ideas.
(looks around the audience)
What we need in Paris is not more years of the same strategies and way of thinking, built on decades of those old ways. To lead the Federation forward on the galactic stage requires a fresh perspective.
(eyes Vor, an expression of polite confusion on her face)
Later this month, President Bacco will be making a historic state visit to Rator III, the new capital of the Romulan Star Empire.
Despite this cordial development in relations between the Federation and the Empire, key points of contention remain, among them the status of the breakaway faction, the Romulan Republic.
The Romulan Star Empire has made it known they consider the Romulan Republic a rogue nation.
Should the Federation formally recognize the Romulan Republic? Chief Administrator Narala, we return to you for the first answer.
The Romulan Republic is the largest Romulan splinter faction to date, they are working together with the Remans, and they are doing a hell of a job stabilizing their people’s situation.
That is not an easy job, especially given the interference from the Romulan Star Empire.
The Republic’s leaders have openly stated that it’s an uphill battle that they intend to fight, one that I myself have experienced. Why would I ever *not* consider recognising them?
(interjects, turning to Narala)
Well, Chief Administrator, are you prepared for the consequences?
You were saying earlier you supported President Bacco’s current policies. She has chosen to table the issue, probably because she knows we don’t have the military power to defend the Romulan Republic should the Empire challenge them.
Officially recognizing the Romulan Republic will come with it additional obligations that we must be certain we can meet. To do so without being prepared is reckless.
We’re not here to debate the current status of the Romulan people and their governments, Councillor, but I will say this: the Romulan Star Empire is still recovering, and the new Imperial Senate does not represent all Romulans.
Even among the Romulan residents of Nimbus III, you will find a wide range of opinions about the future of the Romulan nation. While some will cling to the old ways, the Romulan Republic shows that others are embracing new ideas, and they are not alone.
Democracy will push through the boundaries the Empire has laid before it.
(joins in on the discussion)
I admire the Romulan Republic for wanting to forge a new path forward, but it places us in a difficult situation in terms of recognizing them.
While I applaud the sentiments of my fellow candidates, we must respect as much as possible the rule of law. Merely being a favorable government or favorable to us should not mean we support them without thought.
That said, I believe we should stand ready to aid them as needed to the limit of practicality.
(turns to the audience)
This has been a surprisingly civil debate so far. We will now turn to you, audience, to consider the answers of these candidates and ask your own questions.
(motions to the ushers, who move through the audience, microphones in hand)
(watches a microphone delivered to someone with their hand up)
Yes, please go ahead.
Ambassador Ventu, I have a question
Your platform is based on peace and understanding, but surely after your time in Starfleet, you know it’s now always possible. When do you feel it appropriate to consider other options when diplomacy fails?
Thank you for your question.
First, I would question whether diplomacy ever truly fails. Is it that there is no diplomatic way forward? Or is it that the diplomatic way forward is not the simplest way?
Nevertheless, as you say, I recognize that there are situations that require a variety of approaches.
To that, I would say that we have a large and dedicated Starfleet, to say nothing of the people who make up the many and varied arms of the Federation. I trust everyone who wears a Starfleet uniform or identifies as a Federation member to uphold the principles and pursue its ideals no matter the avenue.
Thank you for your answer, Ambassador Ventu.
The floor is open to your questions, audience, as we continue this evening’s live presidential debate with Federation Ambassador Lily Ventu, Axanar Governor Adellia Vor, Federation Councilor for Terra Nova Kevin Steiner, Nimbus III Chief Administrator Narala, and Trill Chief of Staff Anari Kthria.
I’m your moderator Maronida Shiir, from Federation News Service.
(raises a hand)
(motions to the raised hand)
Yes please, ask your question.
A question for Excellency Kthria.
(nods, turning to face the speaker a bit more fully)
Excellency, I am intrigued by your proposals for sector-level administration of the Federation.
How do you see your plan as an improvement in Starfleet’s response time to the continued problem of piracy that plagues the outer worlds? Especially those along the Klingon border?
(turns back to the candidate to await a response, scribbling on a sheet of paper a note for later in the debate)
(looks over at Kthria, curious as well)
That is a very good question. The main goal of sector-level administration is to coordinate responses, but for something like piracy, especially by rogue houses, a sector government could collaborate to efficiently place patrol routes and automated sensor platforms to decrease reaction time and enable placed ships to respond faster.
Ultimately, though, we may have to resort to a solution that Earth did: fleets whose only job was to hunt out and destroy piracy. I would rather keep that as a last resort, however.
Pirates, after all, are typically after goods. Piracy as a cloak for other means may require a larger scale response.
In addition, we do need to examine why there *is* rampant piracy – could it be an economic problem? But regardless, we need to also stop the currently operating pirates.
Thank you for your question.
Thank you. Again, we turn to the audience. Are there any other questions for the candidates on foreign policy?
(looks around the room, amused)
(calmly awaits the next question from the audience)
If you’ll indulge one more question, Ms. Shiir?
(takes microphone handed to her from an usher)
Chief Administrator Narala?
(looks expectantly at Narala)
Given Nimbus III’s unique history, do you feel that will in anyway affect your dealings with the Romulans or the Klingons?
I think it depends on what way you mean.
On one hand, my own personal experience of working with both parties means I know whom I’m working with. I know what I can expect when working with them.
But that Nimbus III is not the Federation. If I’m working with these parties as the Federation, obviously it’s a different ball game.
(nods as she listens)
It’s nice having that positive experience of working with them from the time spent with Nimbus III, but I have to acknowledge that it’d be a much bigger, more serious relationship.
But thank you for your question!
All right, we now begin the second half of the debate. Our focus is on domestic and social issues facing the Federation. For that, I’d like to turn over to my co-moderator, Churok.
Ambassador Ventu, the past year has seen a rise in violence from the terrorist group the Maquis Reborn. How should the Federation deal with this threat?
We will not quell the violence with more violence.
Terrorism has always been used as a tactic to goad our baser instincts, to have us lash out in fear—both back at them and at each other.
The answer lies in vigilance. We must remain vigilant—to guard against impending threats, of course—but also against those who would infringe on our way of life, whether they be the Maquis Reborn or those in power.
History is replete with examples where civil liberties have been curtailed in the name of security, but it can easily happen again in our own lifetimes. During the lead up to the Dominion War, fear of changelings allowed Starfleet officers to patrol the streets of Earth.
As President, I will work tirelessly to keep the Federation safe while remaining true to ourselves. We will not sacrifice our principles and who we are out of fear.
(looks out to audience for support)
(pauses, then decides to interject a comment into this)
Ambassador Ventu, while I applaud the sentiment and largely agree that adding more security can devolve into security theatre and a curtailment of rights, I am also cognizant that many of the attacks of the Maquis Reborn are due to security lapses in Starfleet and Federation day-to-day operations
In addition, people who have embarked on a path of terrorism will require actual force to defeat.
Governor Vor, the future of the Federation penal settlement in New Zealand has recently come into discussion given the objections of United Earth. How would you work with the United Earth government to resolve the issue?
Well, I can understand the frustrations of the United Earth government. They want to have a greater say in the use of real estate on their planet, and I think most would say that’s reasonable.
That said, I also think it’s reasonable to expect that treaties and agreements are honored in good faith. If the United Earth government has an issue with the original agreement signed in 2346, then the appropriate channel is to open new dialogue between the Federation and themselves, not attempt to usurp the agreement through their own internal legislation.
I needn’t remind the United Earth officials that as with all such treaties and agreements, they are bound by interstellar law to honor them unless amendments have been made between the two parties.
Yes, governor, but doesn’t the Federation being the same party that would also enforce such laws reinforce the argument from United Earth that there is disparity?
(shakes her head)
Again, if United Earth wants to have a conversation about the penal settlement—or any other issue—then they should do so, *with* the Federation.
Councilor Steiner, since the pioneering days of holographic technology, “holographic rights” and questions of sentient artificial intelligence has moved from philosophical debate to legal action as seen in the wave of cases brought before the Federation Supreme Court.
Judiciaries have been reluctant thus far to rule unequivocally on this issue, so I’ll ask you now simply: do holograms have rights?
(smiles as he gets ready to answer)
Well then I’ll be glad to answer unequivocally here in front of you all.
Yes, holograms have rights.
Every kind of hologram? Perhaps not, but if we’re talking about those that have displayed sentience—who have shown that they have gone beyond their original programming—then we must accept that we have created a new form of life, and that our continued denial of the same rights enjoyed by others merely on the basis of their physical construct has been abhorrent and against our very principles of embracing diversity of sentient life in all its forms.
Nearly three decades ago, a judge ruled that an android—an artificial lifeform created by a man—had the right to choose its—*his* own destiny. That he was not merely property.
That android since went on to become one of the finest officers in Starfleet. Now, we are talking about holograms—another artificial lifeform, created by man—that have displayed similar sentience as that android.
(looks around the auditorium)
As I look around this hall, a mosaic of faces reflecting our great Federation, I am reminded of its purpose: to bring different life forms together, recognizing our shared interests and ultimately our shared heritage.
We are all children of the stars, the very atoms in our bodies at one time existing only among the celestial heavens. Perhaps it is why we have all since returned to the stars to rediscover one another.
There have been times when we have encountered new forms of sentient life such as the Horta and the Medusans and have been surprised to learn that life was possible in such radically different ways from our own.
It’s time we acknowledge once and for all that what truly defines a person goes beyond their physical form, whether flesh and blood, tripolymer composites, or light and force fields.
I fully recognize the rights such lifeforms are owed by the Articles of Federation, and I believe I am not alone.
(joins in applause with the rest of the audience)
(joins in the applause with the rest of the audience)
(nods in appreciation)
(holds a moment, nodding)
Chief Administrator Narala, a recent polling of Bajor shows a very low percentage of eligible voters actually plan on voting.
How do you respond to those across all Federation worlds that are not going to vote due to a perceived lack of connection between yourselves and common issues?
They have a right to feel that way. If the people feel they don’t have a connection with me or my fellow candidates, then it’s our job to rectify that problem. However, I can’t fix what I don’t know about.
I can’t speak for the others, but I believe it is up to the voters to alert me to their concerns—I’m not an all-knowing being. I’m one person, prepared to take on an extraordinary role, and part of that role is being prepared to listen to the citizens of my charge. I am prepared to achieve the desired outcome of their issues for the citizens of my charge.
I keep saying that what the Federation needs now more than ever is unity, and I will stand those words. We are many, but we can be one.
Excellency Kthria, do you believe the Federation is experiencing a period of cultural stagnation, and if so, how can we best combat that stagnation?
I believe that our best days are yet ahead of us, and that if we calmly can discuss our problems, and work together, we can make the 25th century as gleaming as any in our history.
While the last half of the 24th century has been marred by wars and massive natural disasters, now is a time to take stock and reform what we have, so it will last in the centuries to come. The best way to push out of stagnation is to refuse to rest on the glittering achievements of the past and to seek new ones.
(nods heartily in agreement)
And once again we return to the audience for our final questions of the debate.
The floor is open to your questions—simply raise your hand for an usher to bring a microphone.
AUDIENCE MEMBER-RHO FALCON:
(raises her hand)
(nods to the first raised hand as an usher hands over a mic)
AUDIENCE MEMBER-RHO FALCON:
(thanks the usher as a microphone is handed to her)
Councilor Steiner, if I may ask a question?
AUDIENCE MEMBER-RHO FALCON:
I do understand the need for a capable military force. I grew up during the Dominion War, and remember it very well.
However, the Federation’s Starfleet is best known in its role of peaceful exploration. How would you propose to maintain this important aspect of Starfleet’s mission while also strengthening our defense?
Thank you for that question.
First off, I want to say I completely agree that Starfleet’s primary mission is one of exploration.
I know some of my critics have described me as a hawk, but that is a rather shallow description of my views.
If I may say so of course.
Here’s the issue: Starfleet’s mission of exploration and defense are inherently linked to one another. When our Starfleet is weakened, we are unable to engage in bold missions of exploration. We simply do not have the number of ships to do so!
Every ship we have to pull from the frontier to help in patrol duty or to assist in anti-piracy operations is another ship that isn’t out there exploring strange new worlds.
If elected as president, I assure you that my investment in Starfleet would include both operations for defense *and* its primary purpose of deep space exploration.
AUDIENCE MEMBER-RHO FALCON:
(nods, accepting the answer, and takes her seat)
Thank you, Councilor.
AUDIENCE MEMBER-SELENE FARANFEY:
(raises her hand)
(motions to the next raised hand)
Please, ask your question when you’re ready.
AUDIENCE MEMBER-SELENE FARANFEY:
My question is for Ambassador Ventu.
Going back to the subject of the Maquis Reborn, I know you touched a little on what you would do regarding the terrorist threats, but as someone who has been up against them, there has to be something more than vigilance, Ambassador.
Vigilance hasn’t stopped these terrorist groups from stealing a number of warp engines and somehow fashioning them to propel asteroids across space to attack one of our stations. I am speaking of massive resources at their discretion, both in goods and people to pull this off.
If we can’t prevent massive attacks like that, long complicated attacks, where do you think we need to work on, in order to be able to be vigilant enough to catch the smaller planned things they have that could lead up to the larger attacks?
(nods and stands to answer the question)
Thank you for your question. I am glad that you asked about the Maquis Reborn, because they have been on my mind, as well.
I want to applaud your efforts on the frontier in dealing with them. I see the Maquis Reborn, as their name suggests, as fundamentally linked to the Maquis. That is, people who feel backed into a corner, and as if violence is their only option.
This is not the case.
They do have many resources to draw upon, both in terms of personnel and matériel, and that is worrying to me. It is worrying precisely because it means that there are many people out there who feel they have no one else to turn to, that the Federation has failed them, and that they must resort to violence.
Our answer must be diplomacy. Our answer must not be to meet with violence with violence.
(leans in, listening to Ventu’s words)
To those who say that they use violence against us and so we must use violence against them, I say that they are not our teachers.
We must understand the Maquis Reborn. We failed to understand the Maquis, and to find a diplomatic solution, and that ended in the deaths of their majority at the hands of the Jem’Hadar.
As your president, I will not allow this violence to continue—because I will get to the root of why it is occurring and proceed from there.
Thank you again.
AUDIENCE MEMBER-SELENE FARANFEY:
Thank you Ambassador.
(looks at Ventu, then pauses, deciding whatever she was going to say was simply not worth the loss of civility, and returns to looking at the crowd)
Thank you, audience. I believe we have time for one more questions before we close this debate.
(raises a hand)
(nods at the new question)
Your question, please
This question is for Chief Administrator Narala.
Given your experience as the leader of an “outer world” among the Federation, how would you deal with the grievances of the Colonial Coalition and their views that outer world issues are not being treated with the same attention as the core worlds or even other foreign powers such as the Romulans after Hobus?
I’m for a united federation.
My concerns with how the Federation is currently structured is that we seem to have “planet categories of importance.”
You’ve just proven my point by stating that I’m leader of an “outer world.” And there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s just how we view planets such as Nimbus III at the moment.
What I’d like to do is ensure that planets and colonies are not ranked in regards of importance. Because every citizen of the Federation, no matter where they are, should be important.
We need to equalize the power “core worlds” have, smooth out the gaps within the Federation, to the point where we are a united force. Because at the moment, there seems to be a lot of internal splintering.
Again, and I do like to say this a lot: we are many, but we *can* be one.
Thank you for your question.
All right, ladies and gentlemen, that’s all the time we have. Thank you all for joining us for today’s debate.
We ask everyone in the audience here, and at home, to vote in our poll. We’ll release the results tomorrow morning on FNS.
Stay tuned to the Federation News Service for all the latest updates as we head into the final few weeks of the campaign season before the election of the Federation’s next president.
(waves again to the audience)
Thank you for your presence here today.
(waves to his supporters and family)
(nods at cheers from her supporters)
Thank you, candidates, for your candid answers. And thank you, audience, for your questions and attention. I’m Maronida Shiir, for FNS. Goodnight.
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