Why Writers Should Not Run for Office

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In this article about the political fortunes of writer, country singer and gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, The Guardian reminds us that if history is any indication, writers should be wary of entering politics.

“Consider the case of George Bernard Shaw, who willingly transformed himself into Stalin’s lapdog at the height of the Ukrainian famine, or the embarrassing spectacle of Jean Paul Sartre endorsing Mao as he calmly engineered the deaths of some 40 million Chinese – and they are but the tip of a disgraceful list of writers who hymned the praises of the master butchers of the 20th century. However, as Shaw and Sartre and co were not bold enough to participate in the actual slaughter, they appear frivolous and irresponsible – like wizened, monstrous children. But what about when authors become involved in the actual, grimy decision making process? …

Radovan Karadzic abandoned poetry for leadership of the Bosnian Serbs – and now he’s in the Hague awaiting trial for war crimes.”

The Guardian doesn’t sufficiently own up to the awesomeness of Vaclav Havel, but in general, I think their conclusions are spot on: “Author + professional politics = load of old cobblers at best, disaster at worst.”


Seth Fischer's writing has appeared in Best Sex Writing 2013, Buzzfeed, PankGuernica, Lunch Ticket, Gertrude, and elsewhere. His Rumpus piece "Notes from a Unicorn" was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013. He will be a 2014 Lambda Literary Emerging Voicing Fellow and was a 2013 Jentel Arts Residency Program Fellow. He also teaches at Antioch University Los Angeles and Writing Workshops Los Angeles. Find more writing of his writing at www.seth-fischer.com, or reach him @sethfischer. More from this author →