Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Twenty Days

That’s how long until American’s of various stripes and persuasions and ideologies close their eyes, hold their noses, and hire a president. 

I’ve tried, really I have. I’ve tried to refrain from publicly espousing a preference. As a semi-public persona, I’ve tried to keep myself out of the combination train wreck and dumpster fire that characterizes this election season. I don't want to get entangled. But as the rest of the world watches in varying states of disbelief, incredulity, glee, or despair, it will all come down to this one day. November 8, 2016

But I’m not going to pitch any political agenda here. That’s not the place of this blog, and it’s not my style anyway. Besides, anyone who knows me even a tiny bit knows where my solitary vote--and yes, by crikey, it will count--will go. It’s a foregone conclusion.

No, what I want to talk about is words.

Because at its very heart, an election is supposed to be about words. About the ideas and ideals that those words convey. About dreams spoken, dreams of what we could become if only… Words of hope. Words of  healing for a hurting country and world. Words of inclusion. Words of change for the better.

An election is supposed to be about political discourse and rhetoric. And by rhetoric I don’t mean the haranguing, mudslinging, attack-dog verbiage of the current climate. I mean the classic definition according to messieurs Merriam & Webster: the art or skill of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people. 

That was what the debates were supposed to epitomize. Didn’t happen. Lots of shouting, lots of arm waving, tons of rancor, but a dearth of persuasion and even less effective speaking. They left me, and I think a majority of folks, feeling hopeless and unincluded and hurting. Almost 320 million people in America, and these two are the best we can do? The ones whose words were supposed to inspire us to look towards a bright future of opportunity and change and challenge? Sorry to break it to you two candidates, but you both failed on that score. Your words failed. Your rhetoric failed. 

And to me, as a writer and a lover of words, that is the biggest failure of all. If your words don’t get the job done, how can I trust you to get the job done? Because to my way of thinking (although I’m sure many would take issue with this) a huge part of being the president of this nation is the ability to use words. You lead with words. You define us as a country with words. You negotiate with words. You explain policy and plans and dreams with words. You move us forwards with words. 

So come on, lexicon up. Don’t try to inflame with your shouts. Woo me with your words. 

Oh, and flowers might be nice too. Just sayin’. 

PS: Regardless of your personal beliefs, I encourage you to get out and vote on November 8. It's your right. It's your responsibility. It's your privilege. Don't forego it. 

 Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler and the author of Traitor Knight. He lives in upstate NY with his loving, lovely, and extraordinarily patient wife, who is gracious enough to encourage his writing habit, and even reads (and proofreads) his words despite the fact that she doesn't really like fantasy. That's love. He does not drink coffee, and neither owns nor is owned by any critters of the feline persuasion. His second novel, Desperate Knight, is completed and currently resides in the laps of the gods.


January Bain said...

Good blog post, Keith! Been quite the election to follow. Never seen the like! I always say you have to vote if you want the right to complain!
Best, January