The 2016 Presidential Candidates and the Fine Art of Casting a Novel
The hyperactive presidential campaign with its debates and exposure dominating the media provides enormous grist for the novelist’s mill. The array of characters throwing their hat into the ring to be the next president offers a cornucopia of humanity: ambitions, obsessions, biographies, anxieties, and yes, cunning, deception, hypocrisy, braggadocio and every other trait associated with the acquisition of power, prestige, celebrity and historical immortality.
Observing these people en masse with the novelist’s eye for insight and observation tempts the writer’s inner motivation, both conscious and subconscious to visualize potential protagonists for serious storytelling.
I am not confining such observations to the crowded rostrum of Republican wannabes but also the Democratic side with the primary candidate debating with her younger self and the other active candidate recreating a familiar character from the thirties.
The Rich Kid
On the Republican side is the born rich kid trying to convince his beloved dad and fortune founder that he has the stuff to match the old man’s grit and purpose by one-upping him beyond the acquisition of mere money to reach a level of power far beyond his progenitor’s aspirations. Proud, boastful and successful his strategy is to upset the applecart of political candidates with a take no prisoners style.
The Skilled Surgeon
There is the amazingly talented and skillful surgeon illustrating that character is the test of moral aspiration and invoking God as his great motivating force guiding him from one great healing objective to another.
The Eloquent Executive
There is the elegant and eloquent woman who despite crushing personal tragedies had the grit and confidence to crash through the glass ceiling and strut upon the male stage of power and prestige, only to stumble and lose traction in the male- dominated boardrooms of the business arena. Her greatest asset is the learning experience that comes from defeat and the wherewithal to pursue an even higher aspiration.
Indeed, every person on both stages has failed at one time or another and has had aspirations frustrated and intentions blunted but enough guts to be persistent to remain a viable contestant.
The Blue Blood
On the Republican stage is a sibling and son of an aristocracy of the ruling class determined to show that his genes are as worthy of command as his father and brother. Therein is a classic story of the royal entitlement by blood.
The Golden Boy
There is the youngest aspirant, who by brains, struggle and biography has made his bones early in life and feels ready to step up the ladder. He is obviously brilliant, brash and attractive with a clear mind and golden tongue, hoping to use his youth and energy to reach the summit of his ambition.
The Humble Governors
There is the group of governors, all with experience and conviction that they can bring to the highest office the same smarts that made them able to navigate the tides and shoals of a smaller entity. Each is self-made, symbols of the American success story of upward mobility, iron will, ambition and conviction. All possess the biographies of humble origins of which they are proud.
The Persistent Outlanders
There are two outlanders, senators with persistence, conviction and certainty that they can upset the applecart of politics as usual and bring their own stubborn vision to the Presidential office. Both are bold new faces with the courage to voice their views without fear or favor. There are others as well, a proud senator who with skill, daring and courage, offers dire warnings of the decline in American military power, arguably the Achilles heel of our slippage as the world’s greatest source of stability. He, too, expresses himself with clarity and honor.
The Steel-Willed Woman
The dominant female candidate on the Democratic side, with more than a hint of entitlement, has been on the public stage for a quarter of a century. Bruised and burned with past defeats and humbled by marital problems, she has managed to remain standing and trying once again to reach the hallowed top rung that she has striven for with obsessive zeal most of her adult life. Despite the constant incoming barrage pointed in her direction, she stands steady and ready to pursue her great ambitious craving and one day sit in the chair her husband occupied. Wounded often and understandably overly self-protective, she can be admired for her steel will and certainty, although at this point, the real antagonist in her debate is herself.
The Courageous Socialist
Surprisingly strong is her serious contender, an avowed and courageous socialist who truly believes that there is still value in a philosophy that has failed persistently in every government entity in which it has been tried. He acknowledges such but believes that his special brand of wealth sharing and government largesse will solve all of America’s problems. He certainly gets high marks for persistence and courage and has won a wide swath of followers who see a chance for success in his once failed vision.
I know I missed some individuals still on the wannabe stage, but there is no question that those cited, even in this brief summary, are the raw material for the novelist’s imagination. Certainly they are worthy, as Cervantes understood, to be observed carefully by the literary artist’s inner eye with a view to discover what motivates the human animal to embark on such a quest. Perhaps, inside their cells and perhaps inside of all of us is the DNA of Don Quixote.
Whatever one’s political predilections, those brave folks on the stage are complex, colorful, courageous, articulate, talented, audacious people, worthy of our admiration and awe whatever their politics.
For the serious novelist they are a gift from heaven.
This piece has also been featured in American Thinker.