Running A Country Is Difficult

Things have been heating up over the past year. Some of us, myself included, have been patiently waiting for this time. A time of change. A time to build the country in to something greater than it currently is. This country, a small island, has limited resources and a limited budget. Hard decisions have to be made, with sacrifices, and often the poor, elderly and unemployed bear the brunt. These people are useless to the inner workings of a country. They’re leechers, scroungers, parasites, taking from the economy and giving nothing in return. Sometimes the doors need to be closed and immigrants denied. There’s only so much room on an island and priority needs to go to those born and bred here. Sometimes there’s a requirement for compulsory contraception to decrease a birth rate. Or a police state enforced. Or residents really must contribute towards the cost of healthcare. Or votes must be fiddled to ensure the ‘right’ outcome. Things that are unpopular with the people but I know what’s really best for them.¬†For I am El Presidente!

In case you think I’ve gone off my rocker regarding the upcoming UK election this week, fear not. For the past few days I’ve been sucked into the world of Tropico 5, finally released on Playstation 4 after a year of having to wait and seeing release dates for PC and Xbox 360 come and go. While the Tropico series is a tongue-firmly-in-cheek guide to running a ‘banana republic’, it does shine a light on the difficulties of trying to run a country. Trying to keep the population happy with homes, entertainment, food, while also balancing the delicate art of keeping the USA and USSR warships out of our territory, providing enough jobs and building a tourism trade.

This isn’t a sympathetic nod to the UK’s current political parties, or government, because I feel they lack the empathy and earnest altruism that I display in my role as tyrannical despot… Sorry, ‘frustrated but kind-hearted leader’. I genuinely want my people to live satisfied lives. I want everyone that’s capable in employment. I want their social, housing and religious needs met. I feel a pang of guilt when I take on 250 refugees to my island and little shacks start popping up over my nice, organised island.

The trouble with running a country is the unexpected. It would be easy in real life and in my Tropico world, if life ran smoothly. I could glide from basic farming and mining, with taverns and cheap tenement housing, to building a power plant, researching factories, opening a fancy supermarket, provide better housing and so on. Politics happens though. War or devastating natural events like the island volcano erupting. My plans for the country go out the window. Instead of spending the constant trickle of income on upgrades, it’s spent on re-building or an improved military presence. Of course, more soldiers upset the locals. It ‘impinges on their sense of freedom’ and they start protesting. Oh I am SOOOO sorry, you peasants. I’m SOOOO sorry that me keeping you safe from war and rebel attacks is less important. So I continue with my military strategy because I love them, I love my Tropicans. I think…

Those occasional protests rapidly turn into an uprising as the islanders happiness nose-dives. I frantically try to build a TV station and newspaper to increase their feeling of liberty but by this point I’m already deep in debt, too deep to actually build anything new thanks to the six guard posts I’m erecting. Or most of the builders are part of the coup so nothing is being built. As panic gives way to defeat, I sit angrily watching the screen as the rebel numbers grow, my military is decimated and the sound of gunfire at my palace echoes through the lounge. Those little bastard Tropicans. Those ungrateful plebs.

I switch off the Playstation in a huff for failing the level (again) and swear vengeance upon the Tropicans tomorrow. When tomorrow comes and I restart the level… Aww, there’s my happy population going about their business. This time, *this time*, I will be their perfect, smarter and wiser Presidente and everything will be okay. And lo, the cycle continues…

At least in the sunny world of Tropico, there’s a chance to do things better instantly. In real life, we only get a reset every four years. Whoever ends up in power after this weeks events, I hope they have the determination and ability to increase the UK’s happiness rating.


Leave a Reply