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"Exclusive Interview With President Lloenflys: Reflecting On Legacy, Leadership, & The Future"
HEM: So, Mr. President, you just announced that you aren't looking to seek another term in the Goldenblock. Could you tell us a little bit about that decision?
Lloenflys: Sure - while I am pleased to have served in the role and don’t regret the decision to run for the office, I also have determined that doing the job well requires even more time than I expected. I have had some amazing people to rely on throughout this term so far - if I hadn’t it would have been unmanageable - and I just don’t feel I will be able to continue devoting the amount of time necessary to do the job justice for an additional term.
I also don’t have a place I’m looking to take the region in another term. I had a few ideas that I wanted to try out, and I’ve put a lot of that in motion, but there isn’t a strong rationale for another Lloenflys term I don’t think. At least there isn’t from my perspective and I imagine I would normally be the one who should be most enthusiastic about that prospect if it was the right thing for me to do!
HEM: I know there have been some challenges this term, especially around activity. What do you think your legacy will be on that issue? Do you feel like you did all you realistically could?
Lloenflys: I doubt anybody ever does everything they realistically could - I’m sure I could have prodded people more directly (I didn’t do a lot of recruitment for participants for most activities, I’ve largely left that to ministers). I could have done more activity prompted or offered more options to people and seem if anything stuck. So I highly doubt I did everything I realistically could. I don’t know that I think that kind of thing would have significantly juiced numbers that much or had too much of a long term effect, however. I think right now Euro is what it is. For those of us who find a home here it’s great, but not everyone finds that home here, and they go in to do other things. I don’t know that anyone has the magic solution for what will increase that comfort and interest level for people. If I am to have any legacy, I hope it is because something exciting comes out of the European Future Commission and that the ideas gestating there are able to have an impact. It would be a very small legacy for me as the person who kicked off the commission - the real legacy would go to the idea people and whoever shepherds whatever good ideas come up into the law - but I’d be very happy with the small legacy of knowing I at least got the ball rolling in some way. That would be plenty of legacy for me.
HEM: For us older members, there seem to be some parallels to your term as First Minister in 2019. Do you see any similarities?
Lloenflys: I don’t think the decision to run was similar really - Rand was making some decisions people didn’t like at the time of my First Minister run and I was being encouraged to challenge him because of that. That didn’t really happen to this run, my rationale for even thinking about running was to ensure people had a choice of options. So at least the impetus was different. I think where there is some similarity is having to deal with some ministerial disappearances. Shuf had to leave early on as Culture minister in a time where there almost no participation in the ministry which resulted in me trying to fill it myself (a disastrous decision, if you’re ever president when that happens, dear leader, beg and plead but no matter what find someone to take the job).
Culture was a bit better off this term in that there were some potential options, but I also wanted to see something shake up that ministry a bit which is part of why I made the nomination I made. There’s a little bit of a parallel there. Beyond that I don’t know if the situations were that parallel - I think this term I have felt much more like this is a bit of calm before the storm as we get closer to F/S being a likely reality and I didn’t feel like we were in that kind of “pause” at that time so to me it felt fairly different.
HEM: Interesting! Yeah no doubt some particulars were different, I think I am struck by the activity/staffing problems during each time period, an apparent struggle to garner interest into elected roles and different positions.
Lloenflys: I think that’s fair.
HEM: I guess the challenges feel similar, if not all the nuts and bolts.
Lloenflys: Culture in particular was horrifyingly bare at the time [in 2019]. I’m really glad no ministry was in that bad of shape. This time I mean [laughs jovially].
HEM: Definitely. Do you feel vindicated by the Hezekon nomination? The term isn't necessarily getting anyone an ovation, but culture does seem to be in a stronger place than many departments.
Lloenflys: I think my biggest hope was that Hez would bring energy and new ideas, and he and I have worked a lot together bouncing ideas off one another and coordinating things already this term, with another holiday event and an ovation yet to come. I think Hez has done a great job in that role and I’m proud of that nomination. I understand why it bothered people, I think the criticism is understandable, but I think he’s done the job that I was hoping he would do to this point and I'm glad I made the nomination.
HEM: OK, I gave you a softball, so now I need to ask a tougher question: There has been talk around the water cooler about you focusing on niche projects as President like the recent legal matter, still very active on the social side, and not really drilling into the core activity challenge. Do you think that criticism is fair, or no?
Lloenflys: Any criticism is fair, but I also think most criticism is based on incomplete information. I’m not overly worried about criticism. People are going to talk, and that’s fine. If people think I’m not doing my job, they’re more than welcome to come talk to me about it directly. That would probably be more effective at getting me to change direction than discussing it around the water cooler anyway. And if they think there’s something that isn’t being done that is obviously lacking, then it makes sense to say so, otherwise it’s just sort of idle chatter.
HEM: On the topic of criticism, former President Icarus gave a comment to the EBC on news of your non-intent to seek another term. She said:
"In times of low activity, the president has to carry an even heavier burden by themselves so it’s only natural to take a step back. I think this is an inherent issue we often see … that standard is constant, no matter the means and people we currently have at our disposal…. The issue is that this just continues to lead to more exhaustion and burn out, resulting in even fewer staffers and more stress for those who remain. It’s a deadly cycle that we have to break and we have to break it fast, if we actually want things to change." [comment abridged]
Do you feel expectations are too high for the Presidency and that criticism is too sharp?
Lloenflys: I definitely don’t feel that criticism is too sharp because we should hold our leaders to high expectations, but it does mean that there are a lot of people who aren’t going to enjoy many days in the presidency. People will come at you with a lot of concerns and people will say things about you that can feel very uncomfortable, but I think people also have a right to do that and that’s just part of being in a leadership role that you have to deal with. I haven’t felt that expectations are too high - no one has called for my ouster or anything like that. I do think it is a highly challenging position however and not even always in the “activity” sense. Keeping track of everything, thinking through the implications of decisions, just mental prep work can be quite draining. But I don’t know how else it could be done.
Perhaps a different leadership structure but that in and of itself could become very difficult. I don’t think the [executive] split worked like we hoped it would to alleviate some of that presidential leadership burden, so I guess I don’t know how to answer this - I feel expectations and criticism are fine where they at but also do believe it’s a very challenging role that a lot of people won’t get a lot of joy out of. Being president is occasionally fun but it’s more work than it is fun, generally [giggles ironically].
HEM: A certain former President would disagree with you but maybe the role just changed so much over the last ten years, or Pope Lexus X was just a psycho?
Lloenflys: [Guffaws like a boar] I don’t think I’ve ever actually talked to Pope Lexus so I don’t know - it could also be that I maybe don’t get as much into some of those aspects of gameplay. Who knows. I think a lot of it is in the eye of beholder!
HEM: I mean, there definitely is a tradition of people serving in the role and largely disappearing from Europeian life afterwards -- or seriously reducing their commitment. President Ervald, President Drexlore, President Peeps, First Minister DAX. Is there something about the experience of leading the region -- that you can imagine --that totally transforms how people experience Europeia and this game?
Lloenflys: I think for some people it probably requires a mental separation. You do find certain problems that don’t go away that you start thinking about two minutes after waking up and that isn’t the most enjoyable, so for those who went through a lot of that in their term I could see having a desire to just get away from it. I don’t anticipate disappearing when my term is done but I likely won’t take a formal role for bit so I guess that is my version of separating a bit
Also, some people do get worse criticism than I’ve had or particular criticism that hits harder which also might make separating for awhile more desirable.
HEM: Looking forward, your term as First Minister in 2019 was followed by an election with nearly zero candidates...until Pichtonia stepped forward, was elected, and largely became one of the most consequential leaders of the split era. Do you anticipate "a Pichtonia" stepping to follow you as President this time around?
Lloenflys: I’m not sure! I wanted to make sure people were aware early so they had plenty of time to prepare. I made the decision I wouldn’t be running again in the runup to midterm and having made that decision let everyone know so interested parties wouldn’t feel rushed (not that taking me on probably would have been much of a barrier to entry but this way they knew it would be open at least). I’m certainly hopeful several people choose to run and that whoever is elected has a great and transformative term!
HEM: In 2019, at the start of your First Minister term, you wrote an article speaking fondly of U.S. President Chester Arthur. Namely, how many historians feel he was encouraged to "be better" as President by letters written by an earnest Julia Sand following the assassination of his predecessor James Garfield.
You said, at the time: "[Arthur] represents a striving to live up to whatever role we find ourselves in, even if it is far above any station we ever expected to attain. He demonstrates a willingness to embrace the best ideas from his political opponents and, if tasked with it, to push them forward to a conclusion."
Do you feel you've lived up to that style of leadership?
Lloenflys: You have just won my heart for asking me a Chester Arthur question omg - I hope the answer is yes. If someone comes at me with something, even if my first thought is I don’t like it, I try to look closer at it to see if there is something in it I didn’t immediately see. I hope my nomination of OD to try to learn more about the RMB/RP community and see if there were opportunities to integrate them is an example of that - I think it is, because I thought it was a good idea, and wasn’t part of my original plan, so frankly I stole it and put the person whose idea it was in charge of it.
Now OD has had a rough five weeks with illness and so I don’t think that has gone the way either of us would have hoped, which is just how life works out sometimes, but I hope that this is the kind of thing that 2019 me meant. I think it is [laughs] and honestly I still think it is a good idea. You are never as smart as you think you are, and if other people who you respect have ideas you disagree with, there’s probably something to them even if you don’t recognize it right away. Even if you don’t ultimately embrace those ideas remembering not to dismiss them out of hand based on an initial instinct is I think important. I hope I continue to remind myself of that not just for the rest of this term but for the rest of my life because I think it is a good approach to things generally!
HEM: Any final thoughts on your term, or thoughts about the region in general?
Lloenflys: I wanted to run because this place is special to me and the opportunity to be involved in its leadership in any capacity is special as well. I’m honored people gave me that chance, and as difficult a job as it can be I am grateful to have had the chance to take on the role. Hopefully I don’t cause a massive scandal in the next five weeks [cackles like a witch until he begins coughing] I can handle being remembered as mediocre or uninspiring but I wouldn’t want to go down as an actual villain!
HEM: Thanks for your time, Mr. President.