To Politic or Not to Politic…

This question has bothered me in regards to this site for some time. Do I wish to put my comments on political events or ideas here on this site? Or do I want to keep it strictly off as a taboo? While I am interested in the topic while holding strong views, there is the idea that it can be off-putting to those who might visit this site. And being that I am trying to be a writer of fiction, putting people off here isn’t really something I want to do.

Politics, especially seemingly in today’s climate, is at best heated. Relaying a political thought is almost guaranteed to result in ire. Flippant or well-reasoned and thought out, it matters little. For whatever reason, many of us in society today have locked down into our encampments, ready to do battle with any opinion that differs in appearance from our own. And no wonder, given the burnout we are all feeling at an ever-growing rate how do we even have the energy to consider something else?

Even still, the fact that I am a writer of fiction needs to be addressed. That is what I’d prefer people read me for, knowing full well that there may be any number of reasons one might choose to visit this site — fiction may not account for any of it. Still, I want people to come to me for my fiction, as though I really have 100% choice in that matter.

Advice came to me through the writings of someone I admire recently. It was a list of things that a writer need do in the realm of marketing and advertising. Their argument was that a writer needs to focus on marketing, on building a relationship with the readers. Details included having a website (check), focusing on one social media account (work needed there), regular content on both (check for the site — though only more recently, but not for social media), and to focus content on… my interests.

Well, shit…

On that, the writer brought up politics, too, and in how one needs to make the choice as to whether to dabble in it, focus on it, ignore it, etc, etc. Politics does interest me. The problem then becomes, how do I approach it? And even if it does interest me, do I want to go down that road?

Given that my opinion is somewhat (to borrow what I consider an over-used term of late) fluid, I know that I wouldn’t fit into the space of blue or red commentary. That in itself is fine. Or is it? I am a heterodox thinker who tends to be socially liberal, fiscally conservative, and libertarian in my leanings. I believe that we need as little government as possible at all times and that those in power should never be trusted — that they should be perpetually earning our trust. I believe that any system, or thought, left unchecked will inevitably turn towards corruption. To put it more plainly — I am against both sides and am likely to piss everyone off, although albeit often at different times.

Thought is what more interests me in politics. Listening to both sides of each issue and picking out what works and what doesn’t and moving toward an understanding of how and why these ideas arise are what really pique my curiosity. In other words, I am more interested in thought and philosophy than the actual day-to-day machinations of our political parties. If anything, the teamism that always infects the landscape to one degree or another annoys me. Ideas are what interest me, no matter where they come from.

In a way, I also like being challenged. I have a friend who comes over frequently to share beers and to joust in political topics. We each enjoy the challenge we give each other in our beliefs and reasoning. And both of us even argue in different ways; he tries to be fact-based and pragmatic, whereas I tend toward truth-based and emotional. (I have been working on an essay that delineates truth and fact and why they are actually two separate things.) It does get heated, but in the end, we really enjoy that. In many ways, the political sphere is lacking that friendly sparring.

My mindset is that each side should be listened to. Both sides have ideas that are great and ideas that are not so great. But to put even more complexity to it — more nuance — is that each idea is better or worse depending on its timing and circumstances. Today we may be better off with conservative and authoritarian principles, but tomorrow it may be the opposite. We don’t know this unless we take the time to listen to each side and calibrate what we here against the goings on in the political landscape. Listening is the key. And allowing one’s self to make mistakes and to be wrong is also important.

No matter what my intentions may be here, there will undoubtedly be people who I will offend. This doesn’t necessarily stand to happen strictly because I decide to discuss political topics here. People find interesting and inventive ways to pin their own anger or dissatisfaction onto others. Even still, the question remains as to whether or not I want to invite that by adding politics as a semi-regular topic on this site.

Ultimately, the question needs asked as to why I am even debating this. If I don’t wish to offend people, or if I only wish to be a writer of fiction, then why would I even consider writing about politics in any way?

For starters, it doesn’t mater whether I write about politics or remain strictly as a fiction writer, it would be impossible to not offend people in some way or form. That is the whole purpose of sensitivity readers in the traditional publishing world. They operate by seeking out anything that might offend and pushing for its alteration or removal. Using this example in and of itself might have the same effect and offend some. Like I said above in another way, people who wish to find offense will find it. Somehow. Someway. Granted, there are things that can flirt with offense more easily than another, but the rule still stands.

Then there is the idea that I wish to be a fiction writer, wholly and entirely. That is not really the case. I wish to earn my living primarily as a writer of fiction, but I will not balk at the opportunity to earn some income through essays or blogging or some other form of non-fiction. Poetry would even work! I am not picky so long as I am enjoying the process, or at the bear minimum, find it fulfilling. Doing that means writing stories that mean something to me to tell, writing about topics that hold my interest, and generally writing things in some form or another that engage me. Politics and political theory is within that. As is religion… another taboo topic.

Were I to really take the advice of the aforementioned writer, forgoing politics in my writing would mean that I am thusly not being true to my interests. Avoiding topics because they might bring ire isn’t the correct way to proceed. If I want to seek the truth, I need to speak freely enough that I might get punched in the face for it — metaphorically speaking, I hope. These trespasses will help me to get closer to the truth, so long as I take them seriously. Won’t mean that my views change in any way, but there’s a greater chance that they might than if I remained silent.

How I am going to handle it will remain to be seen. Likely the essays and posts will be separated via some designation in the title or subtitle, not unlike how I handle my poems and short stories for Free Fiction Fridays. One thing is for certain, I don’t intend to make politics a daily or weekly feature, only that the topic will appear on the site periodically. My hope is that no matter your political stance, you will hear me out. And feel free to challenge me. I’d only ask that we try to be civil.


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