Well. Here we are.
I approach this blog with all the eagerness and delight of a man about to shut his dick in a car door. But if I don’t write it, I won’t feel good about myself.
The problem is, I don’t even know where to start. So I guess I’ll do what I always do, and just tell a story….
* * *
About a month ago, I got to hang out with one of my fellow authors. Partway through the conversation he turns to me and says, “You’ll appreciate this. I turned in my manuscript two months late.”
I did appreciate it. He’s one of the workhorses of the genre. Gets his job done on time. He’s a machine. Him turning in a book two months late is like me turning in a book fifteen years late. “Congratulations,” I said.
“I apologized to my editor,” he said. “Told her that it was this election. It’s ruining me. It’s all I can think about.”
“Was she pissed?” I asked.
He shook his head. “She told me pretty much every book for the spring lineup is getting turned in late. Everyone’s brainsick. Everybody’s a wreck about the election.”
I hadn’t known, but I wasn’t surprised. You can’t chop wood with a broken collarbone. And when your head is in a bad place, it’s hard to do work that requires your head.
Writing, if you hadn’t guessed, is pretty head intensive.
It’s cold comfort, I suppose. My writing hasn’t been going well either.
I’m scared. My faith in humanity has been shaken kinda badly. I am afraid for my country.
I’ve been thinking about the election a lot, too….
* * *
I don’t talk about politics on the blog very much. Not because I don’t care, but because at my heart I’m a teacher. And deep down in my heart of hearts, I know that talking about this election is kinda pointless, because everyone is way too hot right now. Everyone’s way too emotional. Everyone is way too certain of themselves.
This means that very little actual learning can take place. The people who agree with me aren’t going to agree with me *more.* And the people who disagree with me probably aren’t going to change their minds.
So why would I write this? God knows I’ve got better things to do. I mean, Worldbuilders is right around the corner. We’re crazy busy gearing up for that.
So why do this?
Well… because with moderate power comes moderate responsibility, I suppose. People read this blog, so if there’s the chance even a handful of you might find some merit in what I say… I kinda have to try.
So let’s tell another story….
* * *
Earlier this year I was on an airplane sitting next to an older guy. Sixties or so. Retired. We talked about Wisconsin, and farming, and charity, and eventually things wandered into the realm of politics.
It was a pretty easy conversation. This was maybe six months ago, before the primaries, so things weren’t nearly so crazy.
“Who are you for?” I asked.
“Clinton,” he said. “You?”
“Bernie,” I said. “I’d vote for Clinton though.”
He nodded agreeably. “I’d vote for Bernie.”
And that was about it. It was a nice conversation. It was nice to have a gentle disagreement with another human, but to know that ultimately we were both on the same team.
I’ll admit that I was kinda pissed that Bernie didn’t get the nomination. I had my heart set on him, and part of the reason is that I knew he would take Trump apart at the seams because… well… partly because he was an old white guy. And generally speaking, people are more likely to vote for an old white guy. We’re used to it.
Since then though, I’ve had a straight-up change of heart. These days, I admire Clinton.
Sure I disagree with some of her policies. Sure I disagree with some things she’s done.
But fuck. Show me someone I *don’t* disagree with from time to time.
This woman has been through hell and she is still in there swinging. She’s carved out of wood.
I’d be proud of our country if we elected her president.
* * *
At one of my events this week, someone asked me if I died, who would I want to finish my book?
It’s not an uncommon question. And I have thought about it. My books are important to me. They’re precious, and they need to be taken care of.
Despite this, when I was asked that question recently, I couldn’t name anyone.
But I can tell you this, I would rather it be someone with experience writing books. A Jemisin. A Sanderson. A Butcher. A Kowal.
If I die and someone says, “I’ve never written a book, but I’m sure I’d be super great at it!”
Please don’t let them write my book. Because that person would be an idiot. Writing a book is hard.
I’m pretty sure being a politician is harder.
* * *
Want a confession? Back in 1992, I voted for Perot.
It was a long time ago. 25 years. And I don’t remember much about the election. I was 19 years old, which is pretty much the same thing as saying I was a huge goddamn idiot.
Oh I didn’t *feel* like an idiot. I was completely self-confident. But trust me when I say this: self-certain is the worst kind of idiot you can be. (Think about Kvothe, folks. I kinda know what I’m talking about here.)
I don’t remember my reasoning for that vote, but I do remember feeling REALLY smug. Because I’d stuck it to the man. I’d rebelled. I’d shown the world what I thought of their fucking politicians! I’d voted for an outsider! I was a rebel! A free thinker!
Here’s the thing: if everyone’s trying to order pizza, and they’re either going to get pepperoni thin crust or plutonium deep dish, and you vote for “elephant” you’re not a free thinker. At best, you’re wasting people’s time. At worst….
* * *
My point is this: if you’re thinking of voting third party. I understand. I really do.
But distrust of *all* politicians is…. well… it’s kinda bullshit thinking. Politics is a special type of administration. It’s a job. It’s a set of specific skills.
Y’know why I like my therapist? Because he’s super fucking good at his job. And he’s good at his job because he went to school for it, and he’s been doing his job for over 30 years.
When I hire a plumber or a painter or an illustrator, you know what I look for? Experience.
You know why I decided to publish The Name of the Wind with Betsy Wollheim at DAW? Because she has a lifetime of publishing experience.
Hillary has a *ton* of experience in politics.
Trump has *no* experience. Not just less experience. No experience.
He has no experience in politics or international diplomacy.
* * *
I know if you’re voting for Trump, there’s probably nothing I can do to change your mind.
But could you do me a favor?
If you’re only voting for Trump because of something Clinton did, could you head over to Snopes and see if maybe she really did it?
I would really appreciate that.
* * *
If you are thinking of sitting out this election, can I ask you for a favor?
Could you please vote?
If you trust me, I’ll vouch for Hillary. And for Feingold, if you’re in Wisconsin.
I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.
* * *
If you’re voting for Hillary, can I ask you a favor?
Can you call some of the people on your phone who might be sitting the election out? Give them a nudge? Maybe offer them a ride to the poll they need one?
Maybe send them a link so they can find out where to vote? How to vote? What they need to vote?
That’s what I’m doing today. It will be hard.
Everyone is so tired of the election. Nobody wants to talk about it any more.
But we have two more days to make a difference.
This is really important.