A Glibertarians Exclusive – Mr. Okpik Goes to Washington, Part II
Washington, DC – June 2028
“I can’t believe all this,” Tuktu said for probably the fifth time in the week – and it was Monday afternoon.
“Yeah. I wasn’t sure what ‘going viral’ really meant, but boy, I think we did that and then some,” Quinn replied.
“And to think,” Tuktu added, “All you had to do was to tell them what you think.”
“Come on,” Quinn said, grinning. “We’ve got that morning cable news show to do. These folks came all the way down from New York to talk to us.”
They left their hotel, named for and owned by a former President, and walked a few blocks to the studio of one of the various cable news organizations that covered national news. At least now, in the early morning, it was still fairly cool. Quinn and Tuktu, not used to the muggy heat of Washington in June, were nevertheless dressed carefully – for rural Alaska, in flannel shirts and canvas work jeans. The cable network had ‘advised’ the brothers to show up in coat and tie, but Tuktu objected: “No point in doing this if we’re just going look like every other asshole on the network.”
They arrived an hour early and were ushered into a “green room” to wait. They waited, and watched the television in the green room while they waited, and waited…
“They all sound the same, don’t they?” Quinn observed, after the fifth or sixth interview with some politician or another.
“All just blowing hot air,” Tuktu agreed. “Why do you think people are listening to you? You’re real, bro. None of these people,” he waved a dismissive gesture at the television, “None of ‘em are real. They’re phonies, the people talking to them are phonies. It’s phonies all the way down.”
“You think so, do you? Well, maybe that’s why we’re getting all this attention. Hell, we’re just regular guys. Just want a job, supper on the table, you know? All these Washington people, all the hot air, all the running back and forth – I don’t know how they keep from going crazy.”
“Hell,” Tuktu said, “they like it that way.”
“Yeah. I wonder, though… Right now, you’ve got all these people running for President, right? The conventions are pretty soon. No matter which way people vote, regular folks are still getting hosed. I wonder…”
Just then a young woman holding a clipboard stuck her head in the door. “Quinn and Tuktu Okpik? You’re on. Follow me, please.”
They followed her, out of the green room, down a hallway, past a bunch of people managing big cameras and boom mikes, onto a big set with a long, curved white couch. On the couch were three people: A tall, thin man with blonde hair, a slim blonde woman in a red dress, and short, stocky man with black hair. “Sit down, here, please,” the tall man said, indicating an empty spot on the couch. “We’re on a commercial break. We’ll be back live in a moment, and then we’ll introduce you.”
“Cool,” Quinn said.
The interview went without incident at first. The woman in the red dress asked some questions about Quinn and Tuktu’s youth in northern Alaska. “You’re both… Eskimo, then?”
“We’re actually Inupiat,” Quinn corrected her.
“You’re a long way from home, then,” she said, belaboring the obvious.
Quinn and Tuktu shared a glance. Then, the tall blonde man asked a question that was to change the course of the entire exercise:
“Quinn,” he asked, “you’ve been making a lot of statements, giving a lot of talks, but what do you think ought to be done to fix things here in Washington?”
“Well,” Quinn said, thinking very hard for a moment, “I think it’s about time we started electing regular folks. Folks who know what it’s like to work for a living.” He held up his hands, scarred and battered from fishing, whaling and working the oil fields. “We’ve tried having the politicians run things for a couple hundred years now. I think us people in places like where we’re from, in Wainwright, Alaska, we could do better if the folks here in Washington just left us alone. If we have to elect someone, let’s elect someone who will… what’s the term the business guys use? Downsize. Downsize the whole damn thing, leave us alone. Leave us alone!”
“We’re in the middle of a Presidential election right now. You’d vote for someone whose platform is ‘I’ll leave you alone?’”
“Oh yeah,” Quinn and Tuktu both burst out in unison, as though they’d rehearsed it.
“Well,” the tall man said, “none of the candidates are running on that.”
“Maybe someone should.” Quinn looked thoughtful for a moment. Hell, he thought, why not?
They left the studio a half-hour later, after the show broke for a commercial and handshakes were exchanged all around. Out on the sidewalk, the brothers were surprised to find a considerable crowd waiting for them.
“It’s him,” a portly lady shouted. “It’s him,” she repeated, and then shouted what would fast become a slogan: “It’s Quinn the Eskimo!”
“Inupiat!” Tuktu shouted helplessly as the crowd surged forward.
“We saw you on the monitor out here!”
“Are you running for office?”
“Quinn for President!”
Several people took up that last as a chant, which grew and grew as the crowd continued to gather.
Quinn leaned over to talk sotto voce to Tuktu. “Which way is the Mall? I got turned around.”
“You always were hopeless at finding your way,” Tuktu chuckled. He pointed. “That way.”
Quinn turned to face the crowd. He held up his hands. The crowd slowly quieted.
“OK,” he shouted. “You think I should run for President, do you?”
“Quinn for President,” the crowd roared back.
“Tuktu, you mind being my running mate?”
Tuktu laughed. “Beats the hell out of running a pipe wrench on the ANWR,” he said.
Quinn looked over the crowd, the anxious, sweating, hopeful crowd.
“All right,” he shouted. “We’re going to the Mall. FOLLOW ME!”
The crowd picked up more and more people on the walk. By the time they got to the Mall, they had blocked several streets in the passing, but the DC Police were helpless to stop the surging mass of humanity. Quinn led them, with Tuktu at his side, to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
With Tuktu still at his side, Quinn walked to the top of the steps. He looked up at the statue of Lincoln, then turned to face the crowd. He could still see more people, some running, some walking, even one very old man being pushed in a wheelchair, all coming to hear him.
He looked ahead brilliantly. The sun shone down on the grass of the Mall. Quinn felt a surge of something, something inexplicable.
These people, they are here for you. This is the moment. Seize it.
He held up his hands. “My name,” he shouted, “is Quinn Okpik. This is my brother, Tuktu Okpik. We’re from Wainwright, Alaska. We came all this way to talk to people like you. Why? Because we are people like you. We have worked winters in the oil fields and summers fishing. Well, the oil fields are closed down. Our people have no jobs, and why? Because people here – people on that building,” he pointed down the Mall to the Capitol, “just decided we didn’t need those jobs anymore.”
“Damn right!” Tuktu shouted.
“Well, we’re here to talk to you about that. More to the point, we’re here to talk to them about that. Want to know how we’re going to do that?”
The crowd, still growing, roared. “YES!”
“The Presidential primaries are pretty much over. The parties will be picking their candidates soon. And they’ll just be the same kind of old candidates, put out by the same old damn machine, and if we elect them, they’ll just keep on finding ways to mess up our lives. Well, I’m here to offer you a different way. We’ll have to run a write-in campaign, but with all of you – all of us – I think we can do it. I want you all with us. Write-in, remember this, write in Quinn Okpik for President! Write-in, remember this, Tuktu Okpik for Vice President!” You know why you want to vote for us?”
“BECAUSE YOU’ll STAY OUT OF OUR BUSINESS!” the crowd roared.
“Damn right!” Tuktu shouted.
“It’s our time now, folks. No more career politicians. No more billionaires. You’ve got the chance to elect a couple of oil-field workers from the North Slope, and if anyone wants to know if we’re up to the job, tell them this: How could they possibly do any worse that what we’ve got now?”
Quinn held up his hands again. Beside him, Tuktu did likewise. The crowd clapped, cheered, danced. Across the Mall, Quinn could see more people running to join in.
It’s our turn now, he told himself. And it’s about damn time.
Oh you know I like to do just like the rest, you know I like my sugar sweet
But guarding fumes and making haste, you know it ain’t my cup of meat
Everybody’s out the trees, feeding pigeons all under the limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here the pigeons gonna run to him
Oh come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn
Come all without, come all within
You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn