Writers Who’ve Rightly Criticized the Far-Right Trump

Some authors make political points in their novels, but an increasing number are also doing so on social media, in interviews, and in other public forums since Donald Trump was “elected” president in 2016. Hard not to given the never-ending cruelty, racism, misogyny, authoritarianism, and anti-intellectualism of Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and most other prominent Republicans. They’ve become existential threats to decency and democracy.

I thought about this after seeing a video on Facebook this week in which Maine-based author Stephen King (above) supports U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon in her effort to unseat Susan Collins in Maine. The renowned King says in the campaign ad that Collins is notorious for posturing as a bipartisan “moderate” while almost always backing what the far-right Trump and McConnell want. When Collins does say no, it’s only when it’s safe to do so — as with her being one of two Republican senators to say she’s against McConnell’s ultra-hypocritical push to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during an election year after the monstrous Mitch refused a 2016 court confirmation vote during Democrat Barack Obama’s last full presidential year. Undoubtedly, McConnell gave Collins permission to take her allegedly brave stand because four Republican votes are needed to block a court vote.

Other authors who’ve made their political feelings known, specifically about Trump?

In 2019, Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits, etc.) labeled Trump “a fool” for denying climate change.

Also that year, Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things, etc.) called Trump “out of control.”

John Grisham (The Firm, etc.) said of Trump in 2018: “Around our house, my wife and I, we try not to say his name. He knows nothing, he reads nothing, he listens to no one. Nothing he says is clever or smart. Him, the people around him, his crooked friends: each day brings a new embarrassment… I wake up every morning embarrassed to be an American.”

Also in 2018, Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, etc.) noted with disgust that Trump “is an avowed perpetrator of sexual assault.”

In 2018, too, Alice Walker (The Color Purple, etc.) said Trump “has an inferiority complex” that drives much of his repugnant bluster and boasting.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah, etc.) stated in 2018 that Trump’s election was like “giving a toddler the keys to a very expensive and complicated car.”

Zadie Smith (White Teeth, etc.) had a similar take in 2016 — calling Trump “reminiscent of a six-year-old child” as well as “fact-free.” Then, this year, Zadie’s actor brother Ben said Smith left the U.S. to return to London at least partly because of “racist idiot” Trump.

Also using the “i” word, in 2017, was Neil Gaiman (American Gods, etc.) when he called Trump “an out-of-his-depth idiot.”

Back again to 2016, Walter Mosley (Devil in a Blue Dress, etc.) labeled Trump “a lazy, spoilt guy.”

And Philip Roth, speaking in a New York Times interview five months before his 2018 death, called Trump “a massive fraud” who is “the evil sum of his deficiencies.”

Any other examples you’d like to mention of authors speaking about Trump and other political matters outside their novels since 2016? Is it okay for authors to discuss politics outside their novels? Is it okay for authors to write about politics in their novels?

I’ll be posting my next book piece next Monday (October 5) rather than the usual Sunday (October 4).

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started, award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest piece — about another too-big building approved by my town’s spineless Planning Board — is here.

84 thoughts on “Writers Who’ve Rightly Criticized the Far-Right Trump

  1. And now he and Melania have Covid???? That is either Karma or a hoax to keep him from making a fool of himself yet again in another debate?

    What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did wonder if Trump was lying, lulabelle, because he lies about virtually everything. My uninformed guess is that he does have Covid because I don’t think faking it would help his campaign. Part of Trump’s “brand” is coming off as a “tough guy” (though of course he’s really a weak coward), and being sick doesn’t fit that “tough” image.

      What do you think?

      Liked by 1 person

        • That’s a very good question, lulabelle. I think this will finally be something that peels off a tiny section of his base (maybe 1% or so?) because Trump called Covid a hoax, did hardly any modeling of mask-wearing, etc. That’s got to make at least a few of his supporters angry at him. But I also think most will stick with him, because they’ve already stuck with him through all kinds of appalling things he’s done and said.

          Do you have thoughts on how his base might respond?

          Like

        • Karma is bitch !
          Dave, i thought about the same thing, this man lies about everything , why not now.
          But imagine we do not have to hear him yacking loudly about everything. Just yesteday trump was mocking Biden for wearing mask.
          Perhaps your little girl Maggie would know more but my not tell you being a responsible woman.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. In our topsy-turvy hully-gully of a world, it is likely more important that The Rock endorsed Biden and Harris than anything written or said re Trumplethinskin by any novelist anywhere.

    Still, it’s always good to see somebody with an audience pipe up, very much including those who write fiction for a living.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. All classics already taken ( internet furloughed for days)
    Lindsey Davis, Falco – Rome, Ist century CE, or now ?
    And Falco’s adopted daughter, half British Flavia Albia, who suggests that her adoptive father’s memoirs might need censoring for a couple of thousand years.
    Diocletian, for instance.. Remind you of anyone ?
    Maybe ought never to have the top job in any country ?
    In Rome, Davis can say anything she likes…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I hope writers will continue to express their opinions about politics and politicians; it has made for some of the most delicious prose. For example, Anthony Trollope: “The well-educated, widely-read Conservative who is well assured that all good things are gradually brought to an end by the voice of the people, is generally the pleasantest man to be met.” (The Eustace Diamonds)

    Liked by 3 people

      • That Trollope quote reminded me of one of William Hazlitt’s great pieces of criticism, published in “The Spirit of the Age, or Contemporary Portraits” (1825), the subject being Sir Walter Scott. An excerpt:

        “And it is at this moment (when the heart is kindled and bursting with indignation at the revolting abuses of self-constituted power) that Sir Walter stops the press to have a sneer at the people, and to put a spoke (as he thinks) in the wheel of upstart innovation! This is what he “calls backing his friends” — it is thus he administers charms and philtres to our love of Legitimacy, makes us conceive a horror of all reform, civil, political, or religious, and would fain put down the Spirit of the Age. The author of Waverley might just as well get up and make a speech at a dinner at Edinburgh, abusing Mr. Mac-Adam for his improvements in the roads, on the ground that they were nearly impassable in many places “sixty years since;” or object to Mr. Peel’s Police-Bill, by insisting that Hounslow-Heath was formerly a scene of greater interest and terror to highwaymen and travellers, and cut a greater figure in the Newgate-Calendar than it does at present. — Oh! Wickliff, Luther, Hampden, Sidney, Somers, mistaken Whigs, and thoughtless Reformers in religion and politics, and all ye, whether poets or philosophers, heroes or sages, inventors of arts or sciences, patriots, benefactors of the human race, enlighteners and civilisers of the world, who have (so far) reduced opinion to reason, and power to law, who are the cause that we no longer burn witches and heretics at slow fires, that the thumb-screws are no longer applied by ghastly, smiling judges, to extort confession of imputed crimes from sufferers for conscience sake; that men are no longer strung up like acorns on trees without judge or jury, or hunted like wild beasts through thickets and glens, who have abated the cruelty of priests, the pride of nobles, the divinity of kings in former times; to whom we owe it, that we no longer wear round our necks the collar of Gurth the swineherd, and of Wamba the jester; that the castles of great lords are no longer the dens of banditti, from whence they issue with fire and sword, to lay waste the land; that we no longer expire in loathsome dungeons without knowing the cause, or have our right hands struck off for raising them in self-defence against wanton insult; that we can sleep without fear of being burnt in our beds, or travel without making our wills; that no Amy Robsarts are thrown down trap-doors by Richard Varneys with impunity; that no Red Reiver of Westburn-Flat sets fire to peaceful cottages; that no Claverhouse signs cold-blooded death-warrants in sport; that we have no Tristan the Hermit, or Petit-Andre, crawling near us, like spiders, and making our flesh creep, and our hearts sicken within us at every moment of our lives — ye who have produced this change in the face of nature and society, return to earth once more, and beg pardon of Sir Walter and his patrons, who sigh at not being able to undo all that you have done!”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow, jhNY — what an amazing, intensely wordy, convoluted passage! Not sure I understood all of it, but I guess Hazlitt was saying, at least in part, that Sir Walter Scott was too much of a traditionalist, elitist, and defender of the status quo. Which he was, but I’m still a big fan of many of his novels.

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          • The whole essay is a critical review of Scott’s work,beginning with poetry before moving on to prose fiction, and in the process, Hazlitt reveals a near-astounding familiarity with the novels, which he praises unrestrainedly. Had Scott contented himself with the historical, had he not moved on to side with the reactionaries of his day, Hazlitt, I think, would still have likely included Scott in his book, as he was so much a literary force of his times. But the politics gave Hazlitt a chance to laud the prose and yet decry Scott’s political opinions.

            I have undoubtedly over-simplified, and even misunderstood, the course of his thought in essay form. If interested, here’s the whole:

            http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Essays/Hazlitt/SpiritAge/Scott.htm

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you for that explanation/analysis, jhNY. Makes one think once again about how we respond to those novelists who have reactionary political opinions. If I like their work, those bothersome opinions don’t bother me too much — unless the author hits readers over the head with those opinions in their fiction, which I don’t think Scott does.

              Like

    • Thank you, Shehanne! I feel the same way about authors having the total right to be outspoken about politics.

      And, yes, that was a blockbuster Trump tax investigation by The New York Times. Will be interesting to see if Trump continues to be completely “Teflon” to the type of allegations that would fell most politicians. I’m pessimistic — I don’t think the NYT investigation will fell Trump, but maybe it will slightly increase his chances of losing his bid for reelection.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Liz! That’s an excellent point. While Trump is not very smart in some ways, he is an expert at certain things: dividing people, spouting hateful rhetoric, etc. Plus there are some people surrounding/enabling Trump — such as Attorney General William Barr — who are evil AND smart.

      Liked by 5 people

        • I know pointless to be philosophical particularly when it comes to politics and Trump.
          Still, trump is almost 75 years old, physically obese seems to be unhealthy.
          There is a point in life being greedy will not help him at all, and he would be written off in history as the worse President ever.

          He might not even be a free man after he losses his presidential protection, and no one will weep fo him.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Pompeo is pretty darn dangerous, bebe. Hard to judge these days which Republican “leader” is more dangerous — Trump, Pompeo, McConnell, etc. They’re all awful.

            And, yes, Trump’s age, fitness, and eating habits put him at risk. But “only the good die young”… 😦

            Definitely the worst president in history, and he richly deserves to be in jail — for a long time.

            Liked by 3 people

  5. When Trump was campaigning back in 2016, I kept thinking of Stephen King’s book The Dead Zone, which had a Trump-like politician character whose career was finished when he picked up a kid to use as a shield when threatened by an assassin (who was the good guy). But things are so out of whack now I wonder if that would happen. Some of Trump’s supporters are happy to be totally deluded no matter what.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Audrey! That’s a terrific observation about how 1979’s “The Dead Zone” features a repugnant politician sort of like the repugnant politician Trump would be decades later. (Of course, Trump was a repugnant person long before becoming a politician.) It’s an excellent Stephen King novel. Trump would do almost any evil thing to help himself, and, as you say, most of his supporters would continue to support him anyway. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, fictionspawn Aak! I totally agree — Trump is most dangerous to the U.S. and its citizens, but also a threat to other parts of the world given such factors as the way he cozies up to dictators, has successfully pushed for an even more enormous military budget, etc. 😦

      Liked by 3 people

  6. A very interesting topic, Dave, especially as you face an election. You always provide me with excellent thoughts to consider – so many many thanks. As usual, I will go a little off topic. There have been many political writers through the centuries. Consider Aristotle, who supposedly had a falling out with Alexander over Alexander’s relationship with Persia and the Persians. And then there were many that denounced him for “impiety.” Plato also became intangled in politics and somehow found himself sold into slavery. Then Locke and Spinoza came with their dissenting thoughts. And in our time, many have written about politics. The question you asked “Is it okay for writers to discuss politics outside their novels? Or write about politics in their novels.” I think the answer comes from John Adams: ““Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.” My favourite quote by John Adams was in a letter to his granddaughter: ““The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know. . . . Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. This is enough.” Another insightful post and questions.

    Liked by 9 people

    • Thank you, Clanmother, for your interesting and learned comment!

      So true that writers have written about/discussed politics for millennia. It’s indeed usually a good thing, whether for the writers’ present time or for posterity. But sometimes done at serious risk, as you note with Plato and was also the case with people like Dostoyevsky, who found himself almost executed and then spent a number of years imprisoned.

      Great John Adams quotes!

      I guess part of the reason I did this post was needing to vent a little. The damage Trump and his fellow Republicans are doing to the U.S. and international relations is vast and unforgivable. 😦

      Liked by 5 people

    • But John Adams is also the president who signed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which are each and together much more Trumpian than the quote you have provided would suggest.

      Many of the Founders meant well, but often did less than well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • An excellent point jhNY. I believe they did mean well, as you say, although as a Canadian, I don’t know the particulars as you do. I have often wondered what they will say about our generation in the next century. I love how Dave brings out a wonderful conversation with his posts.

        Liked by 2 people

        • An excellent point, jhNY, as Clanmother notes. Adams indeed had his bad aspects in addition to his good ones. Some politicians talk a better game than what their actions actually show.

          At least the northerner Adams wasn’t a slaveholder, as some of the other “Founding Fathers” were.

          And thank you for the kind words, Clanmother! I greatly enjoy the conversations, too. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • I have kept this quote on hand for some years, as it does point out an essential incoherence in our collective midst always:

          “One cannot observe it (democracy) objectively without being impressed by its curious distrust of itself – its apparently ineradicable tendency to abandon its whole philosophy at the first sign of strain. I need not point to what happens invariably in democratic states when the national safety is menaced. All the great tribunes of democracy, on such occasions, convert themselves, by a process as simple as taking a deep breath, into despots of an almost fabulous ferocity.” — H.L. Mencken (a problematical writer himself)

          The quote above pertains, I think to both the aspirations and actions of Adams, and many of his generation, as well as many succeeding generations, some so recent as to be contemporary.

          Agreed: Dave is an able cultivator of his own garden, which flourishes accordingly.

          Liked by 2 people

            • There’s a great deal of it, as he wrote for the “Baltimore Sun” for decades, besides turning out several books. He was a most able writer with a sharp eye out for hypocrisy and humbug, and a gifted satirist. He co-founded the influential literary magazine “The Smart Set”, where Fitzgerald earned early praise, and “The Black Mask” (founded to fund “The Smart Set”), where he published Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.

              But he was also, in private diaries, a racist and an anti-Semite, as well as a Germanophile. Like I said, problematical.

              Here’s another quote, relevant still, though lately superseded by a better national response:

              “Every time an officer of the constabulary, in the execution of his just and awful powers under American law, produces a compound fracture of the occiput of some citizen in his custody, with hemorrhage, shock, coma and death, there comes a feeble, falsetto protest from the specialists in human liberty. Is it a fact without significance that this protest is never supported by the great body of American freemen, setting aside the actual heirs and creditors of the victim? I think not.”

              Liked by 2 people

              • Thank you, jhNY, for those Mencken quotes (and the kind words)! H.L. was indeed problematic — a brilliant observer and a bigoted person. Like you, Clanmother, I’ve never read his books. But I’ve seen a number of his quotes here and there.

                Like

  7. Great and appropriate topic Dave !
    Unfortunately I have not read any of Stephen King`s Novels, because of its creepy nature.
    But John Grisham, yes, in 2016 Grisham openly endorsed Hillary Clinton.
    Now in his latest ” Camino Winds”, one sentence ” He pull a trump ” tells everything about Grisham`s mind.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you, bebe! Yes, “pull a trump” has become a phrase describing something vile. Good for Grisham to have used it in his latest novel!

      Stephen King’s work is indeed often creepy and unsettling. Well worth reading, but one has to be in a certain mood. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

        • Had just seen this on my Facebook feed, bebe, and read part of the piece. What a blockbuster investigation, and it totally rings true. Of course Trump will call it “fake news” and his cult-like supporters will believe him. But hopefully this will peel off a few Trump votes. He is SUCH a crook.

          Liked by 3 people

          • But if the returns don’t prove tax fraud– he may well have lost the gargantuan sums he claimed, then they prove bank fraud, in that his losing assets were presented as money-earners when he applied for loans.

            Doubt these revelations will peel away many of the cultists from their living god, but it may encourage some lukewarm supporters to stay home on Election Day.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, Trump is guilty of SOMETHING, and something quite significant, with his tax-related behavior over the years. It’s obvious he’s hiding pretty devastating information, or he’d have released his taxes years ago.

              Liked by 1 person

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