In August 2385 Federation President Nanietta Bacco was assassinated on Deep Space Nine. Soon after this event was the next election for the Castellan of the Cardassian Union, which was at first a contest between Rakena Garan, the current castellan, and a young former soldier mobilising conservative forces in society, Evek Temet. (ST - The Fall novel: Revelation and Dust; ST - The Fall novel: The Crimson Shadow)
In the conflict between apparently progressive forces and retrogressive forces in Cardassian society, the Cardasssian Ambassador to the Federation, Elim Garak, was apparently assassinated too on Cardassia Prime, in the power struggle apparently sparked by Bacco's death.
In the Federation, the death of Bacco, apparently caused by a Tzenkethi agent, led to a conservative President Pro Tempore, Ishan Anjar, becoming leader of the Federation. It too was pulled between politics of fear and little optimism.
However Garak soon was revealed to have faked his death and, more so, announced his candidacy for Castellan. As Garak quickly gained the lead against Temet, Julian Bashir wrote him a letter, reflecting on both their societies:
Firstly, may I express my profound relief at learning that you are not, in fact, dead, but have merely been taking a short sabbatical on Federation soil? I don’t know the details, of course, but if it was a trick, Garak, it was not a kind one. We’re reeling from one loss. I couldn’t have stood another.
Leaving aside the fact that I believed for a brief period that you were beyond the reach of any letter that I might send, I’m conscious of having been a poor correspondent. I am sure you understand how difficult these recent days have been. Everything has changed, and, like everyone else, I’m afraid of what might happen next. I’m afraid of where this grief might take us and what we might become.
Which brings me to my real reason for writing. I wanted to wish you success in your latest venture. Running for castellan! Did you ever see that coming? I admit I didn’t, sitting opposite you in the Replimat listening to you slander Shakespeare. I didn’t see any of this coming. I suppose I should know better than to underestimate you. Never stop surprising me, Garak. It really will seem like the world has ended.
Because of our long friendship, I hope you’ll not be offended by what I have to say next. But I must say it. In your past letters to me, you have written eloquently of the isolation that has been such a condition of your life and how this was what permitted you to lead the life that you led and poison yourself on Cardassia’s account. You alone know what you have done for Cardassia, and I have never asked and never will. You wouldn’t tell me anyway, not the truth.
But you let me in, Garak. You let me in when you allowed me to help you recover from your addiction to your implant. When you let me stay and listen to what you had to say to Tain before he died. You let me in, and so I have a duty to you: to ask you to look out for yourself, to watch yourself, for any sign that you are becoming like him. When I met him in the Arawak Colony, before I knew who he really was, Tain said that he never had to order you to do anything, and that was what made you special.
From all I hear, you’re going to be the next castellan of the Cardassian Union. And I’m terrified for you. I must ask you—beg you—not to isolate yourself. Surround yourself with good people, Garak: people who will speak to you honestly and truthfully and who will tell you when you are doing wrong. Keep them close. Make sure they are never afraid to tell you the truth. Do not be your father’s son.
Perhaps I’m speaking out of turn. You’d be well within your rights to be angry with me, to destroy this letter and never speak to me again. I hope that won’t be the case. I hope you’ll forgive me. These are the words of someone sick at heart at all that has been happening this past week and who thought for a while that you really were dead this time. I’m afraid for myself and my own people as much as I’m afraid for you and for yours. But I want to believe that you—and Cardassia—are coming out of the shadows. It’s been a long, hard road for your people, and there’s a way to go yet. But perhaps at last it’s right for you to have your time in the sun. And while the sun shines on your new Cardassia, and for as long as it shines, and should the shadows ever fall upon you or your world again, I will remain—
Julian BashirBashir's letter had a great impact on Garak. When he first read it, quickly, and then slowly a second time he wondered if at first he was 'angry', and considered destroying it. However, he soon realized he was grateful and stored it on a data rod. During the coming weeks of the campaign he read it again and again, 'as Bashir had no doubt intended'. He recalled it again, after he won the election and he was about to step out to give his victory speech. (ST - The Fall novel: The Crimson Shadow)
The impact of the letter, along side other comforts and stable objects in Garak's life, could be argued to be crucial for politics in the period. Garak would become Castellan, and he would swing fully to a progressive agenda. In the face of its crisis, Garak aided the Federation against its own reactionary forces - ensuring 'Ishan Anjar' was revealed as the mastermind behind Bacco's assassination, and that his own countrymen's part in the process was exposed. (ST - The Fall novel: Peaceable Kingdoms)
Bashir's letter also arguably references his own conflicted feelings. Soon after, he himself would commit treason to save the Andorian people, by accessing highly restricted biological data. After his imprisonment and escape to Andor, he then become increasingly entrenched in his attempts to defeat Section 31. A year later, an emotionally and physically destroyed Bashir would be taken care of by Garak, after Bashir had expunged the Federation of Section 31 and its 'Control' code, Uraei. (ST - The Fall novel: A Ceremony of Losses, ST - Section 31 novel: Control)