Richard Belzer, Ice-T Jack Up the Election

Writers, artists, performers on next week's presidential election.

And then I remembered that this is a woman who has to be in really good shape for, among other things, the Rapture. She's gotta be prepared for that. And then it dawned on me that this person, this stuff of fiction, is actually going to be on the ballot.

Sarah Jones won both Tony and Obie awards for her one-woman show Bridge and Tunnel.


Shane Harrison

I think about the election all the time; it almost feels like a disorder. I'm having such a raw and emotional relationship with this election that I feel as if I have to protect myself from terrible traumas that might lie just ahead. I'm preemptively sick to my stomach about some terrible thing that might happen. That seems very grim, because at the same time I'm also elated all the time. It's been like love, this election. Being in love, being afraid that the loved one is going to be taken from you. Feeling elation and dread, which is what being in love is about.

Which isn't to say that I'm in love with any particular candidate, but the emotional stakes are so high that I've been kind of a mess and often feel like I have to pull away for my own good—not watch the news, not read anything for a day or two. The month of September was a very black month for me, where after Palin's selection I almost felt like an abuse victim. I thought, I just can't let them hurt me again—I couldn't engage with the news. And then as the poll numbers turned around, I began to feel that I could wade in, very carefully.

Susan Choi's most recent novel is A Person of Interest.


One of the great guilty pleasures of this political season has been watching conservative pundits jump, one after the other, off the sinking radical Republican ship like desperate little rats.

I say "guilty" only because journalists don't like to watch other journalists lose their jobs or flounder uncomfortably—we've all been there; the schadenfreude factor runs fairly shallow. But what a delight to see curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens—who earlier this year compared Obama's denouncement of Jeremiah Wright to "selling out his grandmother"—endorse the Illinois senator, not so much out of enthusiasm for Obama but horror at McCain's "increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical," and his "deceiving and unscrupulous" running mate, Sarah Palin.

It's a thrill to have watched proud conservative Andrew Sullivan peel away the layers of his identity over the last few years to become a barebacking Daddy-bear Democrat-lover who posts anti-Palin parodies on his blog. And the star atop the tree was Christopher Buckley, whose late father must have turned into Pinwheel Billy from spinning in his grave when sonny-boy declared his intent to vote for Obama and got sacked from The National Review. Were his parents alive, Buckley fretted, "They'd cut off my allowance." Aww.

None of these Anglophile creeps seem less than humiliated at their leap across party lines—to vote for a Negro, no less! But it's truly a joy to see these guys doing what Democrats have done for years—vote against a Republican rather than for a candidate they wholeheartedly endorse.

James Hannaham is a staff writer at Salon; his novel God Says No will be published in 2009 by McSweeney's Books.


I am a fatalist who votes anyway. Obama makes me happy, despite his flattening out of himself for wider electioneering purposes. To my mind, speeches such as the Philadelphia race speech earn him the benefit of the doubt.

As far as odd or unexpected moments in the campaigns, two come to mind for me. The first was how, during the primaries, the initial response expressed by many African-Americans interviewed about Obama was fear that he would be murdered. That hadn't occurred to me, and it was chilling to realize what a rational thought it was, given what we know about America.

The other occurred when I recently saw regularly scheduled campaign ads in breaks during a television show. The ads seemed unreal; they seemed fictional. They made the room I was in—and everything in it, including me—feel as if it existed in a movie. The whole election process is so removed and contrived that it only exists as plot development, theater. It's all ridiculous and depressing.

Richard Hell's most recent book is the novel Godlike. He's currently writing an autobiography.


GWEN IFILL: Let's try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?


SARAH PALIN: Your question to him was whether he supported gay marriage, and my answer is the same as his, and it is that I do not.

Looking back on the campaign, I am particularly intrigued by this political marriage. On TV, the vice-presidential candidates have issued (with grins all around) the idea that for now, today, tonight, it's OK that gay people don't have full civil rights. That's it in a nutshell, folks. They both also say all this blah-blah-blah about how the Constitution protects us, but nobody really wants that. With only a civil union, I can't file joint federal taxes, and I can't help my partner get citizenship, and in most states, I'm limited in my gift-giving—and I can't make decisions about her health, either, except in the state our union is in. That's a lot to not have.

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