Munchkin Mania, Part 2: The REAL Blue State
Cheeriobed and his wife Orin rule through the rest of Ruth Plumly Thompson's books, but for some reason John R. Neill makes the Scarecrow ruler of the Munchkins (with his title alternating between King and Emperor). My preferred explanation is that Cheeriobed was taking a vacation, but there's also March Laumer's idea that the Scarecrow gradually took over government from Cheeriobed when it turned out he couldn't handle reigning over an entire quadrant. I don't believe any of the official books after Neill's make any reference to the ruler of the Munchkins, but since the Scarecrow appears frequently with no sign of his having any ruling duties, I tend to think Cheeriobed is back on throne after his brief absence.
I remember John Bell suggesting that the Munchkin kingship might be rotating, rather than strictly hereditary, which could explain how Unc Nunkie "might have been King of the Munchkins" even though he turns out to belong to a royal family other than Cheeriobed's. I've considered that the country could have had electors like the Holy Roman Empire, and that, together with the election season, inspired this brief piece:
SOME MUNCHKINS CALL FOR NEW KING
By BELJON JOLTAN, Ozmapolitan Munchkin Correspondent
King Cheeriobed has ruled the Munchkin Country for eighty years, and is generally quite popular among the people, but some Munchkins are calling for a new ruler. Jolicomb Jolms, spokesman for the Munchkins for Change Party, explains his organization's position: "King Cheeriobed, living on his jeweled island up north, just doesn't understand the needs of ordinary Munchkins. Besides, he was appointed from above, not chosen by the electors, as the King of the Munchkins is supposed to be. We need a new ruler, who's grown up among the people, and knows what life is like for us, not another Sapphire City insider." His choice of candidate for the position is Vaneeda Norkins, daughter of Gingemma, the former Witch of the East, and the farmer Yorm Norkins. When asked about the fact that Vaneeda was the daughter of a much-despised dictator, Jolicomb replies, "Well, it's not like she supports her mother's policies, is it? Old Gingemma didn't even raise her. Asides, Gingemma was chosen by the electors, right?" A check with H.M. Wogglebug, T.E., President, Dean, and Chancellor of the Royal College of Art and Athletic Perfection, reveals that this is indeed true, but only after the Duchess of Kaalena, wife of one of the electors, had turned into a giant centipede overnight. Munchkin opinion on the possibility of holding an election is varied.
"His Majesty is out of touch with the working Munchkin. We need some new blood on the throne!" -Nyssa Fairfax, Flatware Maker
"New blood? Does that woman even HAVE blood? Her mother certainly didn't! She's a witch, and we don't need no more witches ruling this country!" -Kanalt Fairfax, Farmer, Husband of Nyssa
"I feel that a new ruler might be in order, if they can fix the gaps in the Yellow Brick Road. We need more Yellow Bricklayers on the job, and His Majesty isn't supplying them." -Frederick Farn, Carpenter
"Not!" -Stephen, Prince of Seebania and Former Crown Candidate
"I'm not a Munchkin, but King Cheeriobed has done a lot for us wanderers. He started the initiative to move the Man-Eating Plants off the side of the road, and to drive the bandits out of the Blue Forest. I support his reign." - Woot, Professional Wanderer
"I fully support the idea of a female ruler, but I'm not convinced that Vaneeda is the best woman for the job." -Jinjur, Farmer, Former Revolutionary Leader and Queen of the Emerald City
"As a farmer, an agricultural professor, and father of nine, I feel that we need to know more about Vaneeda's positions on agriculture." -Grunter Swyne, Professor of Cabbage Culture and Corn Perfection
"Trying to replace the king is a very tricky thing. It could lead to awful trouble. We should stop it, on the double." -The Foolish Owl, Public Adviser
"I hear that Vaneeda shoots my kind from her broomstick. She sounds like a very dangerous individual." -Snarlgar, Wolf
"I don't pay attention to such matters. I have shutters on my face for a reason, you know." -Slatimer, King of Shutter Town
Some, however, have echoed the words of Mylon Crofter, maker of the Scarecrow, who claims that a new ruler would be a good idea, but his creation would be the best candidate for the job. The Scarecrow himself, despite having ruled the Munchkin Country for a few years during King Cheeriobed's absence, says that he has retired from ruling. "I've ruled the Emerald City, Jinxland, Silver Island, and the Munchkin Country. That's enough ruling for one man, even one who never sleeps." Still, some are hoping he will change his mind. "The Scarecrow has a well-deserved reputation as the wisest man in Oz," says Benjamin Boq. "I'm sure he'll change his mind when we really need him to step in."
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: For what it's worth, the idea of the Wicked Witch of the East having a daughter named Vaneeda comes from an interview with Thompson, and the name "Crofter" for the Munchkin farmer who made the Scarecrow appears in Onyx Madden's The Mysterious Chronicles of Oz.)