On Voting for Kerry, 2004

On Voting for Kerry, 2004
  From Slate.com, Roll Call: Who are novelists voting for?, Oct.11, 2004.

George Saunders:

I'm planning to vote for John Kerry, four times. Once for me, and once each for Jerry Smith, Jerry Smith, and Jerry Smith, three African-Americans in Florida who, unfortunately for them, have the same name as Jerry Smith, an ex-felon, and therefore won't be allowed to vote. So I'm going to level the playing field a bit.

No, just kidding. I am going to vote for John Kerry because I am deeply disappointed in the vision of America being advanced by the Bush administration. Let's think of this in terms of Huck Finn. Huck is generous, concerned about the suffering of others, generally pleased with life, and interested in it. Tom Sawyer, on the other hand, is obsessed with a highly conceptualized view of the world, and imposing this view on others (the Sunday school picnic, Huck, Jim), regardless of how this imposition might actually affect them. Huck is bold, curious, flexible. Tom is, at heart, afraid of the world, suspicious, ego-driven, incurious, and rigid. Our nation is engaged in a struggle to decide if it is going to be the United States of Tom or the United States of Huck. Is John Kerry, then, Huck? No, but he is more Huck-like than our current president, who, in an attempt to answer a complicated question ("What to do about terrorism?") with a simple answer ("Exterminate the brutes, or some of the brutes, or some other guys who basically seem similar to the brutes, or who are, at the very least, pretty brute-like themselves") has led us into one of the bigger and more tragic Sunday school picnics in recent memory.


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