Writing, Politics, and Obsessive Tendencies

Scott William Carter   January 24, 2008  

I’ve been following the Presidential election closely. In fact, I’ve gotten a bit obsessed about it — reading every article and blog out there, following the polls, even animatedly talking back to the radio spinheads when they say something I think is blatantly false (which, unfortunately, is quite often). This obsessiveness is a trait that can sometimes serve me well — like, with writing novels, which requires a certain amount of obsessiveness to be able to stay with a project of such magnitude — but it can also hurt me in other ways. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about politics more than writing, which is a sign that it’s time to put on the brakes. And that means engaging in a media and Internet blackout of anything related to the election. Cold turkey, in other words.

But first, before I do, I want to go on record with something. I’m not a registered Democrat, but I’m fairly progressive by nature. After having read his book, The Audacity of Hope, and following his career closely the last few years, I believe Barack Obama is, indeed, the real deal. He’s the best hope that America has for turning the page on the politics of the past and really charting a new direction for the country. Yes, he has a knack for oratory which is inspiring. But if you do the research, you’ll see that there’s a real man of substance there as well. Behind the lofty speeches, he’s also a pragmaticist, and after the last seven years, the country desperately needs a little more open-mindedness.

I wouldn’t even feel compelled to say this (I’m reticent to talk about anything related to politics here in Mutterings), but there’s a lot that’s happened in the campaign lately that makes me feel I should. That I should go on record. Maybe this is the childish part of me that wants to someday be able to say, see, I told you so, but it’s also a defiant act in a sense. Because until very recently, I thought if Obama failed to win the nomination, I could still vote for Hillary Clinton. But their actions the last few weeks have made this possibility go from probable to less likely to almost zero. Why? Because I think the Clintons believe the Democratic voters are too dumb to see through what they’re trying to do — which is to engage in Karl Rove style politics, smear Obama with anything that sticks whether it’s true or not, and then win ugly. If you think I’m exaggerating, you haven’t been following this closely.

I have really tried to give the Clintons the benefit of the doubt, since I do want to support them if they become the nominee (and see, I find myself referring to them as the Clintons even without realizing it, as in plural, which should tell you something), but even the mainstream media is finally starting to call them on their game. Not everyone, of course, because they’re pretty adept at playing the victim, but at least a few people are getting a clue.

Jonathon Alter at Newsweek makes this case much better than me in his article, “The Clintons’ Patronizing Strategy.”  Read the whole thing. You’ll see what I mean.

I’m betting Democrats are smart enough to see through their distortions. They’re betting that Democrats aren’t — and judging by the number of people who still believe Obama is a Muslim, because, gosh darn it, they saw it in an email, they may be right. I hope not. There were five glorious days between the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary that gave me hope that the country might be finally ready to turn the page on the politics of the past. I want that feeling back. I hope come November 2, I get it.

But now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, it’s no more politics for me. I’ve got to save my obsessiveness for other things. After all, I have a novel to write.

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