Who are novelists voting for?

All about fiction.
Oct. 11 2004 6:51 PM

Roll Call

Who are novelists voting for?

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Richard Nixon, because I found him so fascinating the first time around I'd be curious to see what he could do from the beyond … ?

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I'll be voting for President Bush. His response to the 9/11 attacks has been both strong and measured, and he has extended a once-unimaginable degree of freedom (however tentative) to Afghanistan and Iraq. I am unimpressed by the frantic vilification that has come his way from even mainstream elements of the Democratic Party. The rhetorical assault is reminiscent of—though it far exceeds—the overheated opposition to Ronald Reagan's re-election in 1984. Back then the intellectual establishment told us how repression and apocalypse would be just around the corner if the American "cowboy" were kept in the White House for another four years. Well (as Reagan might say, his head cocked to one side), I remember a rather different result from RR's second term. And I'm hopeful about another four years under George W. Bush.

Kerry.

I've been living in Italy for the past year so news of the election filters in through the occasional guest from the States and the lifeline that is the International Herald Tribune. Here's what I've heard and read about: the intimidation of elderly black voters, a successful attack on a decorated war veteran's bravery engineered by a team of cowards, and the mounting possibility that the American electorate, particularly the struggling working class, can in the end be duped by culture wars and evangelical hokum.

Being away from the United States for an extended period of time, even while surrounded by the beauty of Rome, a writer starts to miss out on our country's brilliant diversity, the rhythms of spoken American English, the back-and-forth of a crowded diner early in the morning. But living here in the shadows of a medieval theocracy on one side of the Tiber and the remains of a long-fallen empire on the other, one looks up the latest Gallup Poll numbers in the Tribune and wonders if the dark ages are imminent for our country as well. Even the Italians, who to be fair have elected their own homegrown monster Berlusconi, shake their heads and wonder what's become of us.

I'm not convinced that the political opinions of a novelist are any more significant than anyone else's, but as a citizen, a libertarian leftist, and a yellow dog Democrat, I'm pleased to say that I'm voting for John Kerry. Give me an hour and I can tell you all the reasons why, starting with John Ashcroft, who has defaced the Constitution; and Colin Powell, who lied to my face about weapons of mass destruction; and Bush himself, who's simply a disgrace. Moreover, I like and respect both Kerry and Edwards (as I didn't like Gore or Lieberman).

I should add, too, that the Republicans I know can't stand Bush, either, and I'm predicting that, barring an October surprise, Kerry will win.

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