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Which region or organization are you from?: Lazarus/LazCorp

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Article Title: PRIME MOVERS: United Massachusetts

Add Author/s: By Marcus Vespasian (Zapatian Workers State)

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Add Article Text: ZWS: Q1: United Massachusetts, for the benefit of our readers, how would you describe the main crux of your policy in your distinguished career of representing the East Pacific before the World Assembly during the reign of "mad" Queen Yuno?

UM: Gladly. In short, I sought to turn the East Pacific into a sort of "WA Haven." By this, I mean a couple things -- (a) I wanted lots of people to engage with World Assembly issues, (b) I wanted an experienced WA team that could properly advise the Delegate, and © I wanted more people in the region to become authors. To this end, I actively sought out WA talent from all over the game, and tried to reach out to as many budding authors as possible, some of whom ended up joining the team. The idea was to create a virtuous cycle: better advisers produce better citizen-legislators produce better results produce more citizen legislators. We were actually quite successful at this, in my estimation: there was a good period of time where the majority of resolutions passed were churned out by our WA Ministry. I also came in at a time of waxing political power for The East Pacific, and sought to use that: it's no secret that I'm somewhat envious of the WA system TNP has established, and we tried to emulate them, particularly insofar as we sought to use the WA as a diplomatic tool to create partnerships. SIEGE comes to mind -- it was our attempt to lay "siege" upon the WALL with an alternative WA block.

ZWS: Q2: Aside from your work in organizing the East Pacific's WA Ministry, what were some major issues that you personally tackled in resolutions which you drafted and/or supported personally, and how successful do you believe you were in changing the landscape of the NS world through your endeavors in the long-term?

UM: Boy, that's a difficult question. In terms of general interactions, I think I'm most proud of my work in bridging the divide between religious and LGBT+ persons on NS. I'll admit I don't know how successful I was, but it's a hard thing to measure. As a gay Catholic, issues surrounding sexuality and faith can be hard to navigate, but that doesn't mean we can't have substantive, fruitful discussions. I think there is a lot of pressure of LGBT+ people to abandon their faith and for people of faith to reject LGBT+ people -- there is this constant narrative pushed on every side that sexuality and faith are naturally in conflict. I think that for a lot of people like me, dealing with issues of faith is the hardest part of navigating my gay identity, and constantly being told that we have to pick one part of ourselves and cast aside the others isn't helpful. To this end, I like to think I was able to promote more dialogue, to at least show people that there is another way. I think this came in terms of moving the needle in Right to Life somewhat on acceptance for LGBT+ people -- we ended up trying to open relations with quite a few LGBT+ regions, which I'm always grateful for. In terms of resolutions, I've authored/coauthored a set of LGBT+ rights resolutions that I'm quite proud of: Ban on Conversion Therapy and Affordable Transgender Hormone Therapy. I'm also proud of my work on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression, which codify important "first freedoms."

ZWS: Q3: You mention your affiliation with Right to Life in reference to LGBT issues. Right to Life, for some, is a controversial region, yet most of this alleged controversy seems to have escaped your person as regards your standing in the GCRs. Do you have any comment on why Right to Life is viewed with suspicion in some circles, and how your affiliation with it affects your public image and persona?

UM: Firstly, I wouldn't say that the controversy from RTL has escaped my person. It has followed me wherever I go, and I made that choice. I've had people refuse to work with me on account of my involvement in Right to Life, I've had some call me a sexist for being a member of it, and the list goes on. When a cause is important to you in real life, though, stuff that people say in an online game can't get to you. I'm a member of Right to Life because I believe that ending abortion is the prime human rights struggle in the modern West, and I'm not afraid to say as much. I think RTL is viewed with suspicion by some largely on account of its political stance. I understand this suspicion -- it makes sense to not be fond of those who espouse an opinion you dislike as their fundamental ideology. But I think there is something to be said about why there is only one true single-issue region in the game, and one that has had quite the impressive run thusfar. I think it has something to do with the energy of the movement for life in the real world; it takes real dedication to a cause to be able to say "I'm going to define my politics and my NS participation around this single issue, because that's how important it is to me."

ZWS: Q4: In what other ways has your Catholic faith influenced your activity aside from Right to Life? For instance, how may it have been reflected in your role vis-a-vis the World Assembly, apart from LGBT issues?

UM: I don't think I could answer this in a book. My faith defines pretty much everything I do on NationStates, and that's particularly true of the WA. By this, I mean to say that my politics derive from my understanding of Catholic Social Teaching, and everything I do in the WA tries to flow from that source. Some call this problematic, but honestly, I think that if the Gospel is correct, if Jesus actually died for your sins and rose from the dead, if God actually made you in his image, and if there actually is an objective moral good, the only rational choice would be to surrender your entire lives to those truths. I am convinced of the truths of the Gospels, and I am thus convinced that they ought to be the center of my work on NationStates. From my endless push to repeal so-called "Reproductive Freedoms" to my pursuit of procedures for codifying just war theory, I have tried to put faith at the heart of my legislation.

ZWS: Q5: You have spoken much now about your social policy positions, especially as relate to LGBT and abortion. However, now I ask how your campaigns have impacted in the World Assembly in the realm of economic reform.

UM: Well, I actually think a lot of economics issues were settled by previous authors before I came in, such that it was hard to find growing room for an economic agenda. But nonetheless, I've had one. I fully support the repeal of "Individual Working Freedoms," a resolution currently on the books that stops the WA from taking substantive action to protect labour rights and set workweek legislation. It codifies the problematic arguments made by laissez-faire liberals in some very sketchy RL cases (think Lochner v. New York), and it also prevents us from actually completing what would be a tremendous resolution to establish paid parental leave. I think Individual Working Freedoms was largely put in place because WA regulars hated seeing poorly-thought-out workweek resolutions. I'm in the process of drafting a replacement to put up on the forum before we repeal. Frankly, I think I "repeal-now-replace-later" attitude is perfectly tolerable for this situation, but some disagree, so right now, our efforts are on that. I'm also hoping to go after Big Tobacco in a coming resolution, but those plans are under wraps!

ZWS: Q6: You were present when Queen Yuno was ousted as autocratic ruler of the East Pacific and replaced with Fedele, and subsequently, also present upon Fedele's own fall from grace. What do you make of these momentous events in recent TEP history and how would you characterize the viability of the current government?

UM: Well, Queen Yuno was never ousted or autocratic -- that was a joke we spun in the "Liberate TEP" resolution that we had launched as an April Fool's Joke. The whole world recognised that Yuno had a democratic government, and this was obviously true given the drama surrounding the first election of Fedele (and believe me, there was all the drama fit for a democracy!). Yuno was a genuinely great leader, and I think history has largely vindicated her already, and for good reason -- under her leadership, TEP went from a fifth-rate feeder to the second-most powerful region in the world. It spread its global influence, organised real and fun activities, and even passed a self-liberation! It's kind of sad to see what's happened since Fedele got into office, but it started with the purging of plenty of my friends on false OOC pretenses and the subsequent importation of questionable personalities, both from LWU and beyond. Honestly, through this whole situation, I'm a Yunoist at heart, because I think that Yuno demonstrates what a delegate should look like: proactive, joyful, diligent, passionate, the list goes on. I can only hope the current government will embody some of those qualities going forward, and having worked with Marrabuk and Libertanny extensively, I think they represent the best of the wave of talent that came alongside Yuno. Combine that with the "Old Guard", who have defended TEP for so long and were our best line of defence against Fedele, and I think you have a strong recipe for a successful government.

ZWS: Q7: For one last question, would you impart any advice to the good people of Lazarus from your experience among the prime movers?

UM: Stick with what you believe in. For far too long, I tried to navigate the waters of geopolitics like any good politician would. It is tiring, fake, and makes the game less fun. Find an area you enjoy, a cause to champion, and just go out there are do it and take what arrows may come. Also, if you ever come around to a regional redesign, just saying I've floated out some pretty genius ideas...

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