Nation of the Dead

My fellow Americans, it is with great humility that I address you today, Halloween, this holiest of holy holidays. It was almost exactly one year ago that I, Roger Hunsaker, was elected to be America’s first zombie president.

It was a hard-fought victory, as those of you who were alive at the time recall. The political battle was bloody, as was the battle between the groups of zombies who lived on the outskirts of America’s major cities and the U.S. military. But at the end of the day, when the ballots were cast, most of those that were not illegible due to being covered in the blood of the non-zombie voters were for me. And the ones that were not for me — the votes cast by brave, decent, hard-working Americans who favored George Bush or John Kerry for president instead of a zombie — well, those brave, decent, hard-working Americans were systematically hunted down and interrogated by my staff, so that their minds could be changed. Or, if not changed, then at least eaten.

Many did not believe a zombie, one of the walking undead, could adequately serve the needs of this country as its president. Their words were hurtful to me and my fellow Zombie-Americans, and though I personally ate the delicious brains of many humans who said such things, I was unable to eradicate the problem of anti-zombism entirely.

I am pleased to say, however, that anti-zombie bias has decreased since the election. Several Hollywood films depicting us favorably have helped with that, including the excellent documentary “Land of the Dead.” Our public image is changing. Americans no longer view zombies as monsters who devour humans, but as monsters who will devour THEM, personally, if they speak out against us.

It is also encouraging to note how many Republicans and Democrats have switched to the Zombie Party since my election. Actually becoming a zombie helps, of course, but it is not a given that being bitten by the undead, dying, and returning to life as a horrific, flesh-eating zombie means you will automatically switch parties. No, even among zombies, there are Republicans and Democrats, the one side favoring tax cuts for wealthy zombies, the other side favoring increased spending for zombie welfare.

Some non-zombie Americans have accused me of ignoring their needs. During the recent natural disaster in the Southern states, when help was slow to arrive, we heard things like, “Roger Hunsaker doesn’t care about living people!” My friends, this hurt. Of course help was slow to arrive: We’re zombies! You’ve seen the movies; we move slowly. You’d be sluggish, too, if you’d just crawled out from your own grave, newly invigorated with a hellish perversion of “life.”

It is well-documented that the instant I learned of the devastation in the South, I dispatched some of my top zombies to the afflicted region to rescue those stranded on rooftops and in convention centers by biting and/or devouring them.

Now, it is true that some members of my administration have been plagued by scandal, as well as by actual plague, which is always a risk when your body is decomposing. I asked my vice president to resign after he tore the leg off a visiting Chinese diplomat this summer. While I take an actively anti-communist stance, I do not approve of such drastic measures, particularly not when there are news cameras present.

And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t embarrassed when a staff member was indicted last week for leaking sensitive information to the press. The fact that the leak was a literal one, and that the information seeped out of an open sore on the staff member’s neck, made it all the more embarrassing. Even with one of us as president, we zombies are never going to be fully accepted if we behave so indecorously. And I assure you, once that staff member has been dealt with by the law, he will be dealt with by me, and by dealt with I mean devoured.

But in many respects, it has been a good year, too. While zombie marriage was once opposed by a majority of U.S. citizens, that tide has turned, and it is now opposed only by the minority of U.S. citizens who are not zombies themselves. Zombie marriages are now being performed everywhere: in ruined churches, in destroyed synagogues, in demolished mosques, all across this great, scorched land of ours.

All over America, average citizens are speaking out. They are coming out of their bomb shelters, climbing up out of the post-apocalyptic rubble to demand change. They want health-care reform. They want a new Social Security plan. They want to leave their bunkers or caves without fear of being torn asunder by marauding bands of the undead.

My friends, I can’t stand here and tell you that all of these changes will come today or tomorrow. We have a long road ahead of us. There is much work to be done. Many avenues must be explored. Many nutritious brains must be eaten. Many sentences must be written in the passive voice. And all of this will require the joint efforts of all Americans, both living and undead. Together, we can make America great again.

Roger Hunsaker first appeared in a 2002 column, when he was running for mayor of an unnamed town. Last year, he was elected president in another column, narrowly defeating Bush and Kerry.

I suppose this column, a year after his election, could have waited until the traditional State of the Union time of year (January), but I didn't think about it then. I thought about it now. Besides, I bet a zombie president would start doing his State of the Union address on Halloween.