The Vision of the Minority

Hello Kitty link of the day: Hello Kitty’s blog

Jade wrote a very restrained post on the general mockery of American voters (specifically of the 51% who voted for Bush) in fandom blogging circles. Since I live in Boston, I get to hear that sort of thing all the time. If people don’t know you’re Republican, they’ll say all sorts of things about the evil of the W and the poor fools far away in the Midwest who voted for him. It doesn’t surprise me (much) to see it on LiveJournal, too.

Here in Massachusetts, only 13% of voters are registered Republicans, so the casual attitude that everyone is anti-Bush has some statistical backing. No one expects my state to go red, ever. It’s socially acceptable to mock Bush and to make dire predictions about his second term that, back in Peoria, would play like the nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind. Such is life in Boston.

But when addressing Americans in general, the basic assumption should be that 51% of us are pro-Bush (or at least 51% of those responsible enough to go out and vote). So it’s odd to see people talking like they’re in a virtual Massachusetts when really, they’re in a virtual Ohio. There’s no way to tell which sort of voter you’re talking to online without prior knowledge of their political opinions.

Even if fandom is itself a virtual Massachusetts, the assumption that one’s audience are all in agreement on extremely divisive political issues is not restricted to fans. George R. R. Martin’s latest progress update, aptly named Mourning for America, is typical of the minority attitude: “this was a victory for bigotry and fear, a mandate bought with lies.” In other words, 51% of his fans are fearful, gullible bigots.

I understand that the minority are upset, but as a writer I wouldn’t say such a thing in a public forum any more than I’d say it in a cowboy bar in Texas. What possible good can it do him to insult half his fans? I don’t see any reason to assume all fantasy readers are anti-Bush. A little insult may not stop me from reading A Feast for Crows, should it ever come out, but say I’d just heard of this George Martin guy and I googled him to find out more, and the first thing I read was that I’m a fearful, gullible bigot—what would the chances be that I’d go out and buy his books?

It’s not just a matter of PR, either. It disturbs me when writers say they can’t comprehend what happened, they didn’t see it coming, or that they don’t understand the 51% of the country that voted for Bush. It’s fine to disagree, but if you’re a writer it’s your job to understand how the majority feels. You can’t just toss half the population into a box labelled “fearful, gullible bigot.” For one thing, they’re not, but even if they were, nobody feels like a fearful, gullible bigot. People vote for reasons, and they can tell you those reasons if you actually want to know.

If you don’t get Republicans, try talking to one instead of tossing the insults over the fence. If you can’t comprehend libertarians, go read Atlas Shrugged (and don’t skip the 60-page political speech). They’re not hiding; they have magazines and think-tanks and talk-radio shows, not to mention husbands and neighbors and dogs and religions. If you keep on asking “who were those masked voters?” you’re the one with the problem, not the majority.

7 Responses to “The Vision of the Minority”

  1. R.J. Anderson Says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you.

  2. Jemima Says:

    You’re always welcome.

  3. salman Says:

    hi. just found your site with the obvious search of “‘mourning for america’ george martin”. anyway, i disagree with your claim that martin is stating that 51% of americans (american voters). just because he believes “evil” has won due to an election, does not mean that everyone that voted is “evil”. either you’re overstating your allegations (not to say martin didn’t) or you didn’t think it through.

    consider that a smurf was running for president, in the disguise of an american born human, of course. if 51% of american voters chose the smurf, you could say, “today is a victory for smurfs”, without suggesting that 51% of americans are smurfs.

  4. Jemima Says:

    George Martin didn’t say anything (that I recall) about evil or smurfs. The President is not a bigotry, a fear, or a lie, so your smurf analogy doesn’t hold. Saying that his victory was a victory for bigotry and fear, bought with lies is a statement about the voters and why they voted for him (out of bigotry, fear, and/or gullibility), not about the President himself.

  5. kathleen Says:

    Peoria is in Illinois which is a blue state. (Although it was just barely a blue county). I would call the predominately red areas the plains states and mountain states.

    And in case you are wondering, I do not live in Peoria. I just think that geography is important and is one more thing that helps us avoid generalizations.

  6. Jemima Says:

    “Play in Peoria” is an idiom. It’s not meant to refer to the city or its county, but to the midwest in general. It’s not my goal to avoid generalizations but to make them, since it’s impossible to state the particulars when hundreds of millions of people are involved.

    Thanks for the cool link!

  7. salman bakht Says:

    okay, so maybe the anology doesn’t fit it such a strict literal sense. although note it was an analogy, so it doesn’t matter that smurfs weren’t mentioned. i know you were trying to be cute. but being cute isn’t a good means of argument, in my opinion. smurfs is used as a synonym for “smurfdom”, and the relationship i was going for was smurf:bigot as smurfdom:bigotry.

    in saying “evil”, i was sort of simplifying things. you could replace where i say “evil” with “bigotry” or “bigot” as appropriate.

    i want to post the quote here, to clear things up:

    “this was a victory for bigotry and fear, a mandate bought with lies.”

    what martin is claiming to believe is that bush’s victory will result in a more positive environment for bigotry and fear to grow.

    he *is* saying that the voters have been lied to, which implies they are trickable, but it’s incorrect to allege that he believes the voters are “gullible”. gullible means easily fooled. you can be fooled without being easy to fool.

    to be fair, i think i understand what you’re saying and was, too, surprised to hear martin speak with such conviction. i don’t think he should have. how can he be so sure what the future will bring and how can he be so sure that the discrepancy between exit polls and results was caused by some sort of unfairness. but i still stand behind my belief that your assertion is flawed.