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Bureaucratic Dissonance

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Amélie Magali Brisbois is a government bureaucrat working in the Shffahkian government. What makes her a person of particular interest is the amount of time she has served as an Assistant to the Executive. She assumed her position in the early 80s and has been reappointed to it ever since. In a political climate where administrations come and go bringing with them new people that are in turn replaced, holding on to a position within the government that relies on an appointment from a revolving position is an impressive feat in and of itself. Yet, in an odd way it is this system of rapidly changing positions that necessitates someone like her. In a political climate of multiple parties vying for power and influence over each other, Birsbois possesses, or more accurately, is seen to possess an invaluable trait: nonpartisanship. 

Her almost forty-year career began rather unexpectedly. Before entering politics, Brisbois was a zoologist studying the flora and fauna of Mesoaurelia. She worked with various national parks and even appeared in two nature documentaries: one about the Capcostese Wandering Spider and the other about the hidden wurld of termites. Her political awakening came when in 1983 the then obscure presidential candidate Pau-Joan Soler ran on a platform that incorporated many environmentalist policies which inspired the young zoologist to volunteer for his campaign at an early stage. Her organisational skills didn’t go unnoticed as she rose through the campaign staff’s ranks; first becoming the head coordinator for her home state of Delimo and eventually she ended up as a hired assistant in Soler’s campaign. A year of campaigning later as Soler was announced as the winner of the 1984 presidential election, Brisbois was there celebrating by his side with other noticeably higher-profile individuals as the victory was announced on election night. 

Brisbois hadn’t initially expected Soler’s campaign to win. Instead she intended to bring environmentalism more attention in national politics by helping his campaign. “Even a third-place candidate sporting environmental policies would go a fair distance,” she thought. But Soler ended up winning which meant that she soon received a call from the president-elect offering her a job as an Assistant to the Executive, a position she would spend nearly forty years in. 

Soler had a difficult term as president having to deal with increasing political fracturing. This led to his party, the Revolutionaries of 1902 (Révolutionaires de 1902 ,R02), losing their governing coalition during his term. As a result, President Soler had to govern through broad consensus. Brisbois saw the promising idealistic Soler become a glorified rubber stamp for legislation. It is around this time that Brisbois gained a non-partisan reputation, not because of her own beliefs but simply because President Soler had given up on enacting his political agenda. During this time, Brisbois’s organisational and management skills shined through as she proved to be quite apt at dealing with the web of bureaucracy that made up the Shffahkian government. She soon knew the names one needed to know and the numbers to call them almost by heart. She was a peculiar instance of competence and know-how amongst the inactivity and mediocrity of the Soler administration. 

As Soler’s term neared its end in 1987, it became evident that he wasn’t going to run for a second term. When a new president-elect was chosen in 1988, Soler appointed Brisbois as the head of the transition team. Brisbois was saddened that she wasn’t able to achieve the things she wanted but chose to see her job through to the end. As Soler left the presidential residence for the last time, she remained there and helped the incoming administration set up; she instructed them on a plethora of topics informing the newcomers about important things such as the finer details of executive protocol and which names to call when you need which affairs sorted. Her knowledge of the executive and the capital as a whole became even clearer when she told them of the small insignificant details such as the best places to take a break and the fastest bus and train lines to travel through to avoid crowds. Towards her last month as head of the transition team, she received a surprising call from the new president offering her old job post back. 

Brisbois accepted, hoping to see her original political agenda through this time around. However, she quickly realised that it wasn’t her political stances or fervour the new president wanted but her bureaucratic expertise. Disheartened, she would eventually give up on her political aspirations not because she lacked the will to see it through but because she simply hadn’t the time being too busy with her work as an executive assistant. Brisbois’s non-partisan nature wasn’t as much the result of some vague sense of national or revolutionary unity as it often was with many non-partisan bureaucrats but more the result of constant busy work gradually doing more and more and expressing her beliefs less and less. This made her significantly useful to any administration to have her around. 

And so from administration to administration, she kept working as an Assistant to the Executive. Her bureaucratic know-how and politically unaligned manners landed her the same job seemingly with any president-elect. Like a desk in the office, it was almost taken for granted that she’d be kept around by the next administration. What was truly extraordinary about this situation was that she wasn’t a far-off office worker but an assistant to the president. From one administration to another, she was able to work closely with the highest office of the country. Eventually the glamour of her work faded, and Brisbois became internally irreverent to her position simply seeing as her day-to-day job. She worked for months to assist the Executive in setting up a new social programme only to work to tear it down by the arrival of the next administration. 

Now she sits in a dimly lit room filled with numerous government bureaucrats as the current president, Adélaïde Larue, gives a slide presentation on the updated internal goals of her administration to a roomful of newly appointed ministers. Larue is the seventh president under which Brisbois has served up to this point. By the way things are going, she is unsure if there will be an eighth because as the switching slides light up the dark room, she cannot help but utterly despise the woman in front of the room whom she calls her boss and the country calls the president. 

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