I have five siblings.
I am the oldest, and the three closest in age to me are my sisters. There weren’t a lot of guys my age around when I was growing up, so much of my childhood was spent playing with Barbie dolls.
You should feel sorry for me. I was a pathetic creature in those days.
But you should also spare a smidgen of pity for my sisters. I was not an easy older brother to have. You see, I have always been…interested…in politics. I say interested, they would say,
Obviously an eleven year old cannot influence national politics much (though I did send a letter to President Bush regarding his Afghanistan war plans), so I was forced to…persuade my sisters to help me in other schemes.
The first thing I tried was a sort of home government. Mom and Dad were President and President, and the kids were Congress. We wrote a constitution that among other things waded deep into my parent’s marriage.
They nixed the proposed constitution. Vetoes could not be overridden, and in the case of spousal disagreement, we (that is to say I, the SPEAKER OF THE LARSEN CONGRESS) was reduced to being a mere “advisor.” It was humiliating. It didn’t help that my sisters were completely disinterested.
Also, the Presidents Larsen vetoed every bill.
This was an outrage. They were treating me, an equal branch of home government, like some sort of spoiled child! Clearly drastic measures were necessary.

I spent too much time watching Newt Gingrich on C-Span during the Clinton years.

I and my unwilling sisters (my brothers were either not born yet or were too young to be allowed to vote) formed a special committee, seceded from the United States and formed the “Downstairs Empire.” By unanimous acclamation, I was declared Emperor.
Mom and Dad discovered about it the next day, when I “punished” my unhappy subjects by making them clean my room. Needless to say, the reign of Emperor Zachary I was cut rather…short.
So I called another constitutional convention. We kept the Empire name, but set up a republic.
This constitution set up basic protections of individual rights, set term limits, and had a Senate and President. In a shocking development, my sister Kate was elected President on the first ballot. Citing “voting irregularities,” I made everyone revote until the “proper” results could be declared.


I taught Al Gore everything he knew about recounts. He just lacked the will to see it through.

We designed flags for our rooms (“states”) and a national flag. I made them pledge allegiance to our glorious Empire every Sunday before church.
The citizens of the Empire were so taken with my wise leadership that they unanimously repealed the term limits on the Presidency. I became drunk with power. At this point I seriously considered sending a letter to President Bush informing him we had seceded, annexed the yard, and were declaring war. I have always wondered what he would have done.

After more than a month, however, my sisters began to complain. It seems they felt I was hogging the Presidency. The fact that the President had exempted himself from several chores may have also been a factor. After being summoned into my Mom’s presence, I was informed,
I was furious. This was nothing short of a coup! But Mom and Dad threatened to not let me read the newspaper. I resigned, and Emily was elected as President while I went to the Senate.
Emily was terrible.
She had no flair for governance, no clue how to play her citizens off each other; she didn’t even know what a constitution was! As the duly elected (others say “self-appointed”) President of the Senate, I introduced Articles of Impeachment after Emily missed a meeting with the Senate.
Emily was removed. Not that she cared.
I was “re-elected” President and we returned to the stability and peace we had known before. Kate, however, had had enough. She used a little-noticed provision in the constitution that let my sister Lettie vote twice in the Senate. It was a sloppy provision, and I knew it when I wrote it. I had put it there because Lettie was weak-willed (she was three), and I thought I could manipulate her to my own ends. I never thought it would be used against me.
Kate convened the Senate illegally, removed me from office, and then informed me that my sisters were going to secede from the Empire and declare war on me if I didn’t accept my own impeachment.
Acting under the authority granted to me by the Constitution of the Downstairs Empire, I declared martial law, dissolved the Senate, and appointed myself “President for Life.”
Kate was duly punished, of course. I told her she had to clean the entire basement by herself. With an almighty screech, she tore off up the stairs. “I’m telling Dad!” Icy fingers clutched at my heart as I followed her into the kitchen, where Dad was finishing a sandwich.
I was too late.
I was banished to the basement, which, I was told, must be cleaned by me if I ever wanted to eat again.
So this is how the mighty fall, done in by their own arrogance. Vacuuming carpet I used to rule! Making the beds of my former subjects-I mean, fellow citizens- and fluffing their pillows! It was a dark, dark evening in the rooms of the former Empire.


Well, dark for some.

I never stopped scheming, however. A month later, I wrote a “Treaty for Governing the Basement,” in which each bedroom was an independent country. We would “negotiate” to clean the other rooms, and work together as allies against all outside threats.
Dad put a stop to that, however, when he came downstairs one night and saw me sharpening sticks in my bedroom, preparing for the conquest of my sister’s independent country.
And so my dreams of Empire finally died. My sisters, however, were perfectly content playing Barbies. After a few months, they had forgiven me enough to let me play again.
My first act as Emperor of North America will be to ban those stupid little dolls.