in Slate polling novelists on who they'll vote for. The results: 25-4 for Kerry, with one abstention and one surprise vote for Nixon.
Reading their comments, American novelists tend to live in a world that narrows their political options. It's hard for them to think beyond the received notions of their social set. As Joyce Carol Oates puts it, "[l]ike virtually everyone I know, I'm voting for Kerry."
What makes it sad is not that they're so predictable--many subgroups are. Nor is it that they support Kerry--it would be just as sad if they overwhelmingly supported Bush.
What is sad is they're novelists. If there's one group that needs to see the whole picture, you'd think it's them. To have them shown up as so limited in vision is disillusioning.
The comments range from rational to hysterical, with too many favoring the latter. I recognize these are short statements, but must they replace reasoned argument with petulance?
Dan Chaon, for example, rants about how Bush is almost pure evil. I assume Chaon could write an essay explaining Iago's motivations, but cutting Bush some slack is beyond him.
Amy Tan is equally clueless. Among other thing, she complains Bush doesn't spend enough--if only.
Rick Moody, with the sense of history of a child (I don't care about anything except what's happening now!) thinks the administration is the "most corrupt in modern history."
Judith Guest demonstrates a Moorean lack of understanding (either that or an unbearable coldness) when she manages to feel sorry for the children of Iraq only after we started fighting to kick out Saddam.
Edwidge Danticat fears that attacking Afghanistan has created more terrorists--a country where terrorists (in particular, those who planned 9/11) formerly had free rein.
Jane Smiley's paranoid rant is so amusing I'll quote it in full:
"I am voting for John Kerry. Would George Bush steal the election if he thought he could get away with it? The evidence is that he has (disenfranchising black voters in Florida in 2000) and wants to again (attempting the same trick already this year). That such a man, an amoral prevaricator and ruthless opportunist, actually has supporters in his bid to wreck American democracy appalls me. I think that the coming election will result in a constitutional crisis of unprecedented danger. I consider a vote for Bush a vote for tyranny."
Russell Banks reminds us, whoever wins, that we live in a "fascist plutocracy."
At least Gary Shteyngart, living in Italy, admits he gets his information filtered by the International Herald Tribune. (He also takes a second to stick a shiv in our ally Berlusconi.)
Thomas Beller feels Bush-Cheney are too angry, and resort to slander.
When Hollywood stars speak out on politics, it's like kids performing at a family get-together--no one takes them seriously, but it sure is cute. After reading this Slate article, I don't see why we should take novelists one whit more seriously.