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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I'm voting for Kerry.

He isn't afraid of America. He understands that you can love your country and criticize it, too. In fact criticism, in the sense that it is articulated thought, is a form of love, at least when it comes to your country. (This logic may work less well with individuals.) I recently came across a copy of The New Soldier, a book that documents the Vietnam veteran antiwar movement, and, though he looked a lot less cool, a lot less tough, than most of the other guys pictured, his remarks were compelling. He seems to have sublimated most of that anger, which, though it's frustrating sometimes on the campaign trail, may be a positive development, because beyond a certain point of anger, you stop thinking, and being angry is the only comfortable point from which you can act.

The Bush-Cheney gang are the angriest guys in the country; fear is their weapon against thought, in whose light they do not look plausible as government. Bullying and slander is their modus operandi.

I saw the face of the Republican Party the other day at the Saratoga racetrack. It was the last day of the races, and a small woman with a big hat walked through the crowd carrying a handmade sign, written in script: "Little Old Ladies in White Tennis Shoes For Kerry," it said at the top and beneath it, "The best bet of the day." She moved through the crowd, a big smile, holding the sign over her head. I watched as she passed an old-young guy, mid-30s, already well-paunched, gold watch, smoking a cigar. He looked at her, at the sign, and then bent forward and spat out a nasty remark in her ear. I was too far away to hear it. But the way he shook his head after he passed her, his body language, maybe just the watch, I was sure it was nasty. She, however, didn't flinch—which in a way I took to be the best political news of the week.