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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Novelists Would Make Great Presidential Candidates



After listening to the campaign stump speeches of the leading presidential candidates these past six months, it occurs to me that after a while, if you hear the same message over and over, it starts to grow on you.  The words become familiar to you and settle into your consciousness.  The candidates, though with very different viewpoints, personalities, and voices, start to blur into one.  You start to lose faith that any candidate has the answers or ability to get done what needs to be done and you also start to believe that no matter who is president, the nation won’t just fall apart.

Of course, there appears to be a real difference between a gun-nut Republican and a big-government Progressive.  Yes, someone who wants to build a giant wall and yell at anyone who looks different than he does is different from another who wants to champion for amnesty to illegal immigrants.  There are lots of firsts swirling around – first Jew, first woman, first Hispanic, or first president without elected or military experience.

Running for president is not the same as being president.  We’re in the commercial stage, where the preview looks better than the movie itself, where the snappy sound bites and shiny packaging look and sound better than what’s inside the box.  Running for president is really about being a novelist – you script whatever story sounds the best. 

Shouldn’t a fiction writer run for president?

After all, people are electing words, visions, and ideas.  The citizens don’t really understand the realities of politics and what is really involved in serving in an elected position.  They just know from what someone says and what they make them feel like.  We want the optimism of sweet-talking actors who play a role, as Ronald Reagan literally did.  We want someone with confidence and charisma to espouse a philosophy we can believe in – even if it’s not practical or transferable to government.

Novelists can create candidates we can fall in love with.  Many people would rather live in a world like TV’s West Wing than to have to slog through the real thing.  Just as millions substitute porn for real sex, millions more could easily replace these debates and primaries with the imagined characters of a great political novel.

Just look at what the candidates tell us.  They all talk in absolutes and extremes, as if we can have a world without death, pain, loss, poverty, or stupidity.  The candidates act as if under their watch we’ll have Nirvana – no problems, whether it be regarding terrorism, education, health, racial relations, or immigration.  And if they can’t solve the problem they fail to admit the problem even exists.  Now that’s true fiction!

When you vote, you’re really casting a vote for a literary prize. Who makes you feel better and says things you want to believe?  Never mind the truth.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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