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Assassination, a Personal Note

August 11, 2016

Dear Reader – I know that the author is quite upset, personally, about Trump’s insinuation of assassination into the presidential election. Of course his personal response influences my narrating, so I want to share a bit of what goes on in him when Trump reveals himself so violently.

It’s related to how he responds to fascism. Having been born “before the war,” he has a visceral, experiential sense of the destructive nature of fascism; he has been thinking about it since he was a kid, and about what a moral and spiritual outrage it is.

He grew up in a family (and a small, Midwestern city) that combined working class, FDR Democratic leaning with lower middle class, professional and small business, Eisenhower Republican leaning. In 1957 he began to explore social issues (on which his family had been benevolently live-and-let-live) and politics, and in 1960 he cast his first presidential vote, for JFK. He became involved in the civil rights movement.

So you can quickly see. By the end of that first decade of political engagement, he had experienced the assassination of four of his heroes, each a person who was leading America toward social justice and equality of wellbeing.

He knows how traumatic such an assassination is. It’s wrenching for persons, and for society as a whole. Each of those assassinations was an act by a shooter that profoundly intervened in the collective, historical efforts of millions of persons to work out, together, democratically, their national character and fate.

Assassination is a violent overthrow of the ability of a people to conduct peaceful, democratic self-governance, and even to believe in that communal possibility. It saps the individual strength to conduct a coherent personal effort for one’s own good and the good of all.

It is also a violent intervention in the healthy historicity of the soul, in its pathos.

So we should not lightly entertain thoughts of political assassination, or tolerate politicians who take the slightest risk of encouraging it. The trauma is long-lasting.

And that gets me back to my job of narrating. Propensity to violence is one of those psycho-pathologies of American democracy that this novel is about, and assassination is one of its forms that haunt the national psyche.

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