Is your work political?
It can be at times. My fiction is more about working personal stuff out through a universe of characters that live in my head, but just as often I branch out into commentary and creative nonfiction that has things to say about our world, our country, our society. Growing up and living in America, coming into my own as a progressive despite my conservative family and plenty of apolitical peers, it’s hard not to see everything as political.
What is the place of literature in politics?
Literature holds a very special place when it comes to politics, because while commentary and nonfiction should be straightforward with its point of view, fiction is often even better when playing coy about its message. Whether it’s a period piece that reveals the truth about whitewashed history, or speculative fiction that serves as allegory, sometimes those sentiments resonate with a reader to a greater degree than the best op-eds.
What is your favorite political work?
I know George Orwell was a bad person in many ways but “1984” is a sentimental favorite, which may be a funny thing to say about such a bleak work. It’s invoked so much, I feel like it was talked about a lot by punks, which is where my political awareness initially came from. Maybe I just remember it being cited because a guy named Winston Smith did that Dead Kennedy’s art. Or because my skater friends were into a video series called Big Brother. But think about how much vocabulary we have to describe fascist actions that we lifted from “1984.” So I could spout off a litany of bands… like, the song “Mary and Child” by Born Against is what cemented my pro-choice views. I would even say that there’s a particular story arc on the first season of the television show “Oz” that changed my view on the death penalty, which I have now been against for decades. But I read Orwell so young, that’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Do you feel voting is important?
Voting is essential. It’s frustrating to see so many leftist white dudes I know blow it off because they have this purist ideological view of what things should be. Bernie or Bust types. As if any politician could ever truly be punk rock, maybe AOC comes close, but the government is still the government. A vote is a portion of strategy. You have to get people in those offices that you can then maybe work with, nudge to the left, drag the center over. Republicans have long known that they’re best off voting whatever POS they can get in to further their agenda. Meanwhile, radicals and neoliberals and establishment Dems and whoever else knows that you can’t trust the GOP still want to bicker as if the Left controls anything. It’s like, hey, get the vote out, then have the nuanced discussions with the elected officials actually capable of having those nuanced discussions. And not, you know, the right wingers who want to keep their feet on our necks.
What are your hopes for this election?
My hope, or maybe my dream… my dream is that the Trump regime is defeated in a landslide and there’s no legal question about escorting them out of the White House posthaste. My dream is that the Dems get control of the House and Senate, and offer some course correction to the travesty that is our right wing packed judicial system. My dream is that the Republican Party is thrashed as many ways as possible to the point of ruin and never returning to the marketplace of ideas ever again. Then we can get some decent third and fourth and nth parties to keep the Democratic Party honest (so to speak). I hope for nothing short of a transformation in how we handle the electoral process from here on out.
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