Two years ago, I did this (quite fun) post about voting. Voting in books/shows, namely, but the importance of it in general. No doubt, I am back with round two, because now? It’s gotten even more direly important to make sure your vote counts. So while I do have some new books to add to the mix, I also want to do a bit of a discussion about mixing politics with books (and other hobbies, frankly).  What is our responsibility, not as a book blogger, but as a global citizen, to be vocal about issues that affect us?

Mixing Politics and Pleasure

Look, if you had asked me this even half a decade ago, my answer likely would have been different. Have times changed, or did this recent bout of large scale heinousness make me aware when I hadn’t been? Perhaps both, but I suppose if we’d been having this conversation in 2015, I’d have left it with a “you do you” answer and moved along.  As you may have surmised, that is no longer my opinion. Silence is also a choice; it’s a statement that says that its speaker is a person unwilling to put the needs of their neighbor above their own comfort. It’s a statement that your comfort in your privilege to not speak out matters more to you than other people.

I suppose part of this behavior can be learned; I know many people who have always harbored a strong dislike for talking about politics. But just like every other part of life evolves, so too does this. No longer is “talking about politics” simply comparing economic policies or foreign interventions. When we discuss the political landscape of the past four years (and likely longer; I -and certainly some of you- have had my eyes opened during the past four years more than before), we’re talking morality, plain and simple. Your political affiliation is now a direct reflection of your core beliefs as a human being. More, your beliefs on how other human beings should be treated. No longer is abstaining from the conversation a viable choice.

The book community has long prided itself in being an inclusive, diverse group, and is constantly striving to do better and is, in my opinion, far ahead of other industries (though I am not negating that there’s still a long way to go). As such, it seems only fitting and logical that discussing these important issues would be part of the bookish narrative. I am always delighted to see authors, publishers, and influencers alike sharing progressive ideals. And I like to think that books as a medium have done us so much to open our eyes to many of the problems facing our society. There are the straight up game changers like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give or Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, and the quieter releases that are still highly impactful, like Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi or Romina Garber’s Lobizona (all of which I highly recommend reading), to name just a few recent gems that have shone a brilliant and thoughtful light on very relevant issues.

But what about us? Do we have a responsibility beyond just books? Is championing diverse books and authors enough? I dare say, in many cases, it isn’t. It’s a start, obviously! But unless and until we can, as a large majority, outwardly (and internally) condemn the hateful rhetoric controlling the country, we’ll be stuck. There are exceptions to this. I have met young people who are at literal risk of homelessness because their parents don’t tolerate their liberal views. But clearly that isn’t who I am referring to. I am referring to those of us who have the privilege of safety, and of a platform, and the ability to stand up for what is right.

I will state this unequivocally: the only morally correct choice, in my opinion, is a vote for the Democratic ticket. If we claim to stand up for people of color, for the LGBQT+ community, for the chronically ill, for immigrants, for women’s rights, for all people, there is one choice. The Biden/Harris ticket is not perfect (I don’t think any ever is), but they far and away give us, all of us, the best possible outcome going forward. If you abstain, if you vote for the other side, you are sending an abundantly clear message that the rights, nay the lives, of anyone but your self-defined sect of the population has no meaning to you.

So should we chat about books blithely, pretending that so many of our fellow humans are not being discriminated against, having rights stripped away, killed? No. We do what we can, knowing our limits and setting aside time for self care. We donate when we can. We boost voices on social media. We volunteer how we can. We keep talking to friends, family, acquaintances. But we never, ever allow the conversation to stop. And yes, we talk about books too, because balance and interests and self-care and entertainment are all necessary. The good things are necessary. But we simply cannot pick one over the other. They must coexist.

This is my last plea, in effect. I know that most people in our community will be on the right side of history, and make no mistake, Biden/Harris is the right side. To stand up and say that you support all human beings, that you care for the lives of your fellow man equally, there is no condition under which you’ll fall on the wrong side.

I voted, by mail since I was quarantined and worried, for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, for Matt Cartwright in PA-8 and all the Democrats down ballot. I tracked my ballot until it was marked “recorded”. If you have not voted, you must go to your polling place. If you need help locating it, do so here. And if you need help further, please feel free to DM me, and I will help you in any way I can. Let’s do this, together.

Self-care, remember? ?

More Fictional Votes With Real Life Lessons

Because again, books are important, books are self-care, and we can talk about books and politics in this house!

This is the voting book, if you’re inclined to read one. It will infuriate you as you watch these wonderful young people jump through hoops to make their voices heard. And the thing is, this story is very realistic, and very based on actual events. You won’t be able to read this without thinking (or in some cases likely, realizing) how messed up our system truly is. And bonus points for both characters (and their families) being straight up fabulous.

It might be the end of the world. But that is all up to a vote from an alien council! Will they deem humanity worthy of staying in existence, or is this where Earth ends? This gem of a book (which I loved) follows three young people as they await this literal life or death vote. Which is probably how a lot of us feel at the moment, frankly.

A girl who spends her free time encouraging folks to vote. A boy who is jaded by the system and wants no parts of it. Boom, they collide. There is obviously a lot of discussion on the parts of both characters about the state of society, their own choices, and also it is really a good story. I recommend!

Ohhh another case of  “non-humans judging humanity’s worth”! I fell so in love with this book, which features a new species called the Erta, who were basically lab-grown to make them “superior” to humans. They then must decide whether humanity should be given a second chance on the newly-mended Earth, or if they should just leave humankind dead. To do this, they grab an embryo out of the freezer and basically let the kid live and judge his life. Messed up? Absolutely, and you won’t want to miss this one!

Have you voted yet, if you are eligible? Have anything to share? And hey, take care of yourselves dears ♥♥

Posted November 2, 2020 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 21 Comments

21 responses to “Politics, Voting, and Books: What’s Our Responsibility?

  1. You know that I’m with you on this one. Last month, I got so upset about words that came out of the President’s mouth that I just couldn’t stop myself from talking about them in my monthly recap (and I don’t think I should have). It’s funny because I was literally having a conversation in my head about this very topic and then I sat down and saw an email about your post and found you had written my thoughts down for me. Thank you! 🙂

    • No thank YOU! I was a little nervous about posting, because even though I know it is important, it can still be a little scary, so seeing the support helps! I agree, the things that come out of his mouth are straight up VILE. Not to mention, usually false. Now… we wait. A lot, apparently ?

  2. I completely agree with you. It just seems so wrong for people to say “I don’t care about politics.” How can you NOT care? When so much of people’s lives are wrapped up in it – equality, healthcare, etc. There are things that personally affect me and there are many, many more that do not. I want to vote for the person who I think will help ALL Americans, or at least way more than just the current administration who is intent on dividing everyone. You’re right – no ticket is ever perfect. No human is. But some people are DEFINITELY a better choice, a better human. I voted today for Biden/Harris. I also voted for Amy McGrath because Mitch has to go.


    • Exactly! It’s just so very selfish! I don’t understand that level of apathy, honestly, and I am glad I don’t! I guess we will be waiting for… well, who knows how long for this to be sorted out, but I am very sorry about Amy, I was rooting for her so much!

  3. Yes to all of this! I voted months ago by absentee and I’ve been pushing all the people I know to vote responsibly (aka actually researching the candidates). I really dislike the idea that politics (like religion) is one of those topics that shouldn’t “be discussed at the dinner table” because it isn’t a polite topic of conversation. Like you said, our political choices are a reflection of our core beliefs and that’s pretty important. And I agree that the book community sometimes falls into this trap, even with all the good we’re doing. I especially like to prompt conversations with people I know disagree with me so we can have actual, productive conversations. I think avoiding the topic altogether is part of what is causing all the hyper-partisanship. There’s just too much us vs. them. I actually recommend the YouTube channel Jubilee (specifically their series’ Middle Ground and Spectrum) to people because I think their promotion of level-headed discussions among people with differing views is commendable. Anyway, I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to watch the live results over the next few days because I don’t think I could take another 2016.

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    • Yep, I agree with you completely! I have been having those conversations with people too, and it is not easy! And I also agree that avoiding it just makes it worse- my mom always tries to say that we can’t change anyone’s minds, but I don’t think (or at least I don’t hope!) that is true. I will definitely check out that channel though, especially when trying to talk to people across the aisle. Though I won’t lie, it gets harder and harder to even be in the same ROOM as people- especially when you know they’re being hateful. I feel you, I stayed up basically all night, and we still don’t know anything! Probably better to take a break, tbh! Hope you are hanging in there! ♥♥

  4. I love everything about this post. Where is my Mery Streep standing ovation gif? People’s lives are at stake and folks want to treat this as a difference of opinion! I’m hoping that everything goes smoothly in PA!

    • AW thank you, you are too kind! And that is exactly it- it isn’t a difference of “opinion”, it’s being a decent human being versus being an actual pile of trash! That is IT. How do people live with themselves!? I sure know I don’t want to live along side them. Also, as you know, PA is a complete shitshow, but alas. I figure we’ll be done counting votes sometime around… May 2023? Sounds right.

  5. Beth W

    You say this so much better than I could. Thank you! I agree that political discourse is mandatory. And I hate how the radicals (*ahem* the Tea Party) within the Republican party have made their party about regression, hate, pandering to the very wealthy, and rewarding multinationals. It’s never good to end up with only 2 dominant parties, as we now have, and then to lose one is also dangerous- I do hope we get a Democratic Senate, House, and president for the next term. But I also hope the Republican party cleans house aggressively within their own ranks, so we can come back to more moderate beliefs and discourse, focusing on the safety and prosperity of the country (all of the country, not the 1%).

    • Aw thank you!! And exactly- you can’t just “not talk about it”! People’s lives are at stake! You are so right about the regression, too. That is infuriating, I cannot even imagine why anyone would WANT to go back to the shittier times exactly? Like- you must be not just selfish, but super insecure in your own self if you think that the only way for YOU to succeed is to oppress others. Here’s hoping that something good comes out of this mess!

  6. Well said Shannon! And I like how you highlighted relevant books too. Such an important message -we really do need to stand up for what’s right with everything going on. You nailed it!!

  7. Great post! I read a lot of political books, but I never know how political I should be on my blog. I’m in a tricky situation because I come from a family of MAGAs, and I live deep in MAGA territory, and I’ve been harassed online by MAGAs for posting a stupid meme. When too many of my own beliefs show up in a blog post, I have a panic attack and delete them. I’m not brave enough. I did vote, though!

    • Ahhh yeah that is definitely tricky! I think the fact that you have been harassed says SO MUCH about how vile they truly are. Like what kind of decent person does that!?? I am also so sorry about your family- I genuinely have no idea how people navigate that. Obviously it’s easy to cut out like, randos on social media or whatever, but families are a MUCH trickier beast. Hopefully there will be some sort of healing for yours going forward. So proud of you for voting, too!! ♥♥

  8. I used to be the same when I was young – when I heard the old saying “everything’s political” I huffed and shrugged. I didn’t care what party my favourite artists voted for. I didn’t even want to know. The fact is, though, that in time things have gotten exponentially worse everywhere (Italy included), and I realised that, yes, politics is US. And I can’t support someone who, for all their art, endorses privilege, or negates basic human rights/self-determination. I can’t say I get political on my blog, but if I can highlight or support something, or someone whose beliefs I share, someone whose heart is in the right place, I do.

    • Yeah absolutely! I feel like when I was younger, I had no idea where most of my friends stood on political views and such! Sometimes I would know about family just because they’d discuss it, but that was it. Now, I genuinely cannot imagine NOT knowing where someone stands, because it says so much about who they are! I think it’s great that you say stuff where you can!

  9. YES! A really brave and important post, Shannon! I saw an acquaintance post on FB recently something about how I don’t care how you vote, if you’re my friend, you’re my friend. And I thought–but what if your vote DIRECTLY HARMS me? Are we still friends? And I agree that as white women, we are maybe a little late in realizing it’s been like this all along; we just had the privilege of being oblivious. The Human Son and I Hope You Get This Message both sound great; going to check them out for sure!

    • Aw THANK YOU Wendy!! You nailed it completely, too. I feel like sometimes the other side wants to have their cake and eat it too- like “well why can’t we be friends anyway?” but the truth is, would they WANT to be associated with us if we didn’t fit their idea of what makes someone “worthy”? My mom will say that about like, neighbors or acquaintances and such, and I say SURE they’re nice to you, you’re a middle class white heterosexual couple who lives in the same neighborhood! Of COURSE they’re nice to you! And I think you’re right that we probably ARE late to realizing how bad it has been for others- I think social media revolutionized things because now we can SEE in real time what is going on, and we no longer can say we aren’t aware.

      And I do hope you check them out, they are two favorites!

  10. What interesting books! I need to have a look at those.
    The election four years ago shook me up for sure. I’m still not recovered yet but I started thinking and talking about politics in a way I was never interested to do before. I’ve read and learned a lot since then, but I’m still left with major questions, such as why do people go against their own self-interest with their ideological hysteria and irrational behavior? That led me into more psychological and spiritual realms, which are really fascinating, but complicated. I hope that (if the current result is allowed to stand) it will give us all four more years in which to try to figure out some better, and more moral, ways to live together. Thanks for putting yourself out there with this post!

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