The greenwater was combining with the lack of air to make Arthur very lightheaded indeed. He decided to head over to the Fishiecrat Convention and get some more hot air to clear his brain. The air was getting pretty thin in the bar. Plus there were all those fish jumping onto fishhooks. It bothered him to think about why they might be doing that.

Brian Grunion told him that the Fishiecrats were just over the coral ridge. He cut his hands quite a bit trying to climb over the coral. Turns out coral is still alive and very sharp and doesn’t take kindly to people crawling all over it. It presented quite a problem until Arthur realized he could just swim over the top of it. Arthur usually said that he couldn’t swim, but this wasn’t strictly true. He could swim fine, he just couldn’t stay above water. It turns out to be easy to swim once you don’t have to worry about staying up top. Comparatively, at least. Water is still thicker than air, even during a political convention.

Arthur felt kind of silly when he realized he’d cut himself up for nothing. It helps, when you’re cutting yourself up pointlessly, to think there’s a grand purpose. Even if it’s just the purpose of getting to the other side.

On the other side of the coral ridge was the Fishiecrat Oceanal Convention. It looked to Arthur very much like the Republifish Oceanal Convention except that it was just a bit quieter. There was still more than enough hot air to keep Arthur alive, however. The Fishiecrat candidate was running down a list of promises to keep “when ah’m re-elected.” He was very composed and practiced.

“He should be.”

Arthur wheeled around. A big tuna with a sign that read “I’m With Nobody” was waving his sign at the Fishiecrat candidate.

“Practiced, I mean. It’s the same thing he said last time ‘round. Lots of promises, no backbone. And the new promises he’s stealing from the Republifish. I don’t know why I should even go to the polls. Why should I vote for a Republifish wannabe?”

“A whattabe? Is that a new kind of fish?”

“It’s the oldest kind there is,” replied the tuna. “A wannabe is a fish whose only principles are based on where he wants to be tomorrow. What is it that Lovecraft said about politicians? That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with elections even death may die. Taxes never die, though. And neither does the lust for power. Politicians can lie eternally. That’s their one job requirement.”

“Why not vote for someone else?” asked Arthur. “It’s a democracy, isn’t it?”

“We live in, and we always have lived in, a pornocracy.”

“A pornocracy?” asked Arthur. “What’s that?”

“Government by prostitute” said the tuna ominously.

“What’s a prostitute?”

“It’s another word for politician.”

“Why didn’t you say so?” said Arthur. “You use lots of words just to mean politicians.”

“Politicians have many faces, and each face needs a name. Wannabe, prostitute…”

“Why,” asked Arthur, “are they prostitutes?”

“They’ll promise anything,” said the tuna, “in exchange for a vote. But they’ll only do those things for money. Before the election you’re a voter. After the election you’re a special interest and they won’t do anything for special interests unless you pay them.”

Arthur was beginning to think tuna didn’t speak English.

“What’s a special interest?” he asked. He knew what an interest was, and he knew what ‘special’ meant, but he wasn’t sure how that applied to politicians. He wasn’t sure how anything applied to politicians and he was beginning to think that neither did the fish who voted for them.

“Anyone who wants a politician to vote for something that doesn’t give the politician more power,” said the tuna. “That’s a special interest. Special interests got to pay to get the politician to vote.”

“Even if that special interest is just the people who voted for the politician in the first place?” asked Arthur.

“Especially if the special interest is just the voters. Politicians don’t like to be reminded that they only have power at the voter’s command.”

“It doesn’t sound like you like politicians very much,” said Arthur.

“No one likes politicians,” replied the tuna. “Not even politicians. We only vote for them because we haven’t got a choice.”

“So why don’t you vote Ron Pollock?” asked Arthur. “He doesn’t seem like a normal politician.”

“Ron Pollock? The Piscetarian? I could never vote Piscetarian. Why, if I did that the Republifish politician might win!”

It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies. — Thomas Paine (Common Sense)