May 1st 2019
As a new Imperator, Erin Toi hoped that April 30, 2793, would be the day that put the Empire on a new path. Less than a year earlier, the UEE had deposed Linton Messer XI and had democratically chosen Senator Toi to replace him. Her charisma and vocal support for the end of Messer rule made her a logical candidate, but her active participation in the uprising and heartfelt desire to better the Empire by doing a job many believed impossible made her an ideal one.
Imperator Toi’s administration spent most of its first year in power tracking down regime loyalists in hiding and reshaping a government the Messers had spent centuries bending to their will. Modifying the government’s charter required perseverance, political fortitude, and a degree of delicacy. Imperator Toi worked closely with senators on what changes to propose, in what order to roll them out, and how to sell the ideas to the public. She understood that the unity of the Empire was hanging in the balance and if change came about faster or more drastically than expected, the whole UEE could crumble. On one side sat the Terra-centric activists pushing to completely dismantle the existing government and start from scratch to reshape the Empire for a new age. On the other was an Earth-based ideology committed to preserving the traditions and values that elevated Humanity to the heights it currently stood at.
Each change to the government only became official after a vote in the Senate and Imperator Toi’s stamp of approval. The process began with several small but significant procedural changes that opened debate in the Senate and eliminated punishment of those openly opposing the government. The most significant legislative accomplishment during this phase restored the Tribunal of High-General, High-Secretary, and High-Advocate, along with the power to remove an Imperator for just cause. Her commitment to ethical leadership was admirable and put to the ultimate test on April 30, 2793.
Though heavily involved in what policies were put to a vote, Imperator Toi never proposed any herself. She left that to the Senate to inspire trust in the legislative process and highlight its independence from the Imperator. Not all pieces of legislation passed, including one drastic measure that would have revoked the Citizenship of anyone believed to have been sympathetic to the Messer regime. However, many progressive critics were unhappy with Imperator Toi’s restrained approach, arguing that it signaled weakness and an unwillingness to erase the very system that allowed the Messers to rise to power. What they didn’t know was that behind the scenes, Imperator Toi was working with a coalition of senators from across the Empire on an expansive piece of legislation and was saving her political capital for this momentous push.
In early March of 2793, eight senators from systems spanning the Empire held a press conference to introduce the Governance Modernization Act (GMA), which would relocate the Empire’s capital to Prime, Terra, and officially rename it the Democratic Stellar Union (DSU). Everyone involved knew the GMA would court controversy and had prepared a multipronged defense. This included the release of pro-GMA opinion editorials tailored to specific parts of the Empire, a coordinated media blitz across the spectrum, and a plan to convince Croshaw Senator Esther Aguila to not only vocally support the act but to co-sponsor it too. The plan had Imperator Toi avoiding the initial debate so she could assess the blowback and then deliver a speech that endorsed the plan, addressed people’s most pressing concerns, and hopefully inspired the Empire to support it.
This strategy quickly fell apart. Protests erupted on Earth and elsewhere, forcing Imperator Toi to address the Empire earlier than expected. She came out in support of the plan but later admitted that she disliked her speech and believed it came across as defensive instead of inspiring; an opinion shared by her critics. Behind the scenes, powerful corporations with commercial interests on Earth lobbied senators to not support the GMA and claimed the upheaval could cripple an already unstable economy.
For weeks, a public debate about the GMA raged on the Senate floor and across spectrum. Advocates in the Senate furiously courted supporters but many remained noncommittal. Some believed it was politically advantageous to not state their opinion in advance, which would only upset part of their constituency, while others wanted to assess public sentiment closer to the vote. When a pro-GMA march in Stalford, Bremen, devolved into violence, Imperator Toi saw that the debate had become corrosive to civil discourse. She called for the Senate to vote on the GMA and April 30th was selected.
Imperator Toi spent the days leading up to the vote personally contacting every senator to answer questions and assess their levels of support. She believed the conversations were helpful and productive, but many senators refused to pledge their support either way. Party whips and political pundits considered the vote too close to call. According to biographer Ryuto Pendleton, Imperator Toi couldn’t sleep on the eve of the vote and told confidants that she expected tomorrow to either be the most significant accomplishment or biggest blunder of her political career.
An anxious Empire watched as the Senate convened on April 30, 2793. Historian Ariel Rutte described it as “the day the Empire held its collective breath.” Public gatherings in Terra, Earth, and elsewhere attracted millions. Military forces mobilized in every system ahead of the vote and stood at high alert to reign in rioters and celebrants. Before the vote, confusion broke out in several systems when overwhelming comm relay drone traffic temporarily brought reporting to a halt.
Imperator Toi shuttered herself in her office and rehearsed two prepared speeches, one if the GMA passed and another if it failed, while the votes were tallied. When Clement Redfield, her Chief of Staff, eventually knocked and entered, he didn’t say anything, though his downcast expression made the outcome clear. The GMA had failed by three votes.
Imperator Toi requested a few minutes alone before addressing the Empire, but Redfield sat down and proposed a third option; one that involved Imperator Toi invoking an executive action to override the Senate to make the GMA law. Though a common occurrence in the Messer era, Imperator Toi was conflicted. As the Empire eagerly awaited the press conference, Redfield implored her to have the political courage to do what she believed was right for Humanity. They discussed the potential ramifications, with Redfield admitting it could effectively end her political career. From his perspective, it would be a small price to pay to ensure a Terra-led future for the Empire.
Imperator Toi couldn’t bring herself to override the Senate’s vote. Redfield resigned, using the legislative failure of the GMA as cover. He would return to Terra and run for the Senate with the idea of moving the UEE capital to Prime as the center point of his campaign. Though he lost a close race, his platform would provide the ideological backbone for the modern Transitionalist party. Most political historians considered him the first Transits candidate, even though it was not yet an official party.
Only after Imperator Toi left office did Redfield publicly disclose his proposal to use executive power to override the Senate’s vote. The revelation angered many in Terra but increased Toi’s standing with an Empire wary of the abuse of executive action. When her biographer asked about it, Imperator Toi replied, “I still think about what could’ve been, but I’ve never regretted my decision. The will of the people had to stand above my personal beliefs. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be any better than the Messers.”
Imperator Toi remains one of the most important and substantial figures in the UEE’s history. Aside from holding the Empire together following the fall of the Messers, she significantly reshaped the government, created Citizen Day, championed the Fair Chance Act, commissioned the Ark, and more. Yet, it might be the action she didn’t take on April 30, 2793, that had the most impact on the Empire.