In a demonstration of optimism, a group of over 450 writers, including Junot Diaz, Stephen King and Cheryl Strayed, released a petition on Tuesday to decry Donald Trump’s candidacy. I guess we can all go home!
Because, as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power;
Because we believe that any democracy worthy of the name rests on pluralism, welcomes principled disagreement, and achieves consensus through reasoned debate;
Because American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has from the first been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds together, not pitting them against one another;
Sure! While it’s clearly thoughtful and well-intentioned and full of conviction, it’s worth mentioning that this endeavor does not appear to take into account the probability that “their fanbase” and “Trump supporters” are, in essence, mutually exclusive groups. A horde of creative luminaries might wield significant influence within a very particular niche, but at a Trump rally, where even political media is cordoned off and targeted as the enemy, they do not.
The idea behind the petition’s declaration—that Trump “deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society”—is a true and important one, one that we’ve all been screaming into the ether, hoping part of it will stick. But nothing has stuck. In a lot of ways, this election has been about powerful groups and individuals—the media, the Speaker of the House, and now, I suppose, famous authors—coming up against their own essential powerlessness in the face of genuine danger. It has been a gigantic bummer to watch America beat its collective head against the wall trying to squish something that, much like a cockroach, absolutely refuses to be squished.
But hey, no harm in trying.
Donald Trump gives a tiny thumbs up after speaking in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. (via Getty)