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!