It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Things been hectic at my day job, and I’ve managed to set some time aside in the evening to get the needle twitching on my writing-o-meter. I currently have four projects that I’m either developing or about ready to start drafting, two novels and two short stories.
One of the novels, an alien invasion story, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. I’ve talked about that one for years with numerous false starts. And while I think I’ve figured out most of why it stalled in the past, one puzzle that’s come up recently is who gets to be President of the United States in the story. We’ve often got this image in the invasion sub-genre of Bill Pullman or Jack Nicholson weighing in the pros and cons of pushing the nuclear button. Because I try making my stories as believable as possible, begrudgingly I have to consider politics.
When I first thought of this story a few years ago, the presidential issue wasn’t such a problem. It was during the Obama administration. At the time, I assumed that politicians could be fairly rational regardless of which side of the aisle they were on. Sure, George W. Bush was the butt of many jokes, but even he took it in stride. That can’t be said anymore. In the last couple of years, politics has gone from mere disagreements to mud-slinging character attacks to accusations of frightening proportions. And oh, joy! We’ve got another election around the corner!
Lining Up Characters
First, I googled the Republican and Democratic candidates. I can already hear a few readers scream, “But Mario! What about the Greens or the Libertarians or any of the other third parties?” When’s the last time either party one an election? Exactly.
Trump is the only Republican candidate. Bill Weld, the 2016 Libertarian running mate, might run as a Republican, but hasn’t confirmed.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have way more options. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie, Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren are the confirmed candidates making headlines recently. There are also strong hints that Joe Biden might run too.
So right now the list is Trump, Weld, Booker, Harris, Sanders, Warren, and Biden.
Process of Elimination
Because the campaigns are just starting and candidates are still weighing in declarations, this is where a lot of speculation comes in. Clarity is the main thing I’m looking for.
In the red corner, I think Trump is likely to get re-nominated. Personally, I’d pick anyone else. Even if Weld runs, Trump is such a bulldozer that he’d overwhelm the party no matter what happens.
Among the Democrats, Booker isn’t the clearest picture. All I know is that he’s running, but I know very little else. The clearest picture isn’t just a candidate’s chance of winning. If I’m going to feature them in a story, I need to know their voice and their platform in order estimate their reaction to fictional situations. Harris seems to be the strongest contender right now. Sanders stands a good chance if he reignites his base and runs a better campaign than 2016. Warren seems like a middle road between Sanders and Harris.
I think Biden could get nominated. Whereas Harris is a first-term senator (then again, so was Obama), Biden spent decades in Congress and was Vice President for two terms. People like him, and he knows the Washington machine. And unlike the other candidates where it’s too early to think about running mates, there’s rumor that Biden would pick Harris.
So through process of elimination, I think it’s a choice of Trump/Pence versus Biden/Harris.
Regardless of who wins, I need to consider how people would react to my alien invasion scenario. Furthermore, if a real person is used, I think it’s unwise to flat-out name them. Other writers would agree. Hillary Clinton isn’t named in Stephen King’s Under the Dome, but the President is referred to as “her.” In World War Z, Max Brooks calls the President “the Big Guy,” but has stated in interviews he had Colin Powell in mind. I could also create a fictional character modeled after either Trump or Biden. This is likely since I plan on having the President tell his side of the story.
A Trump-like President could be a trigger-happy war dog, collapse mentally under the pressure of war, be removed from office by rebellious generals and cabinet members, or he could face a civil war from Americans. Dramatically, I think a coup or a civil war would be interesting, but there’s already a lot going on in my head, and a fractured America would detract from what I’d like to do.
A Biden-like president would be the most Obama-like in my opinion. That’s beneficial to me as a writer because most of the issue would reset back to what I had when I first conceived it.
I also mentioned the candidate’s voice. I’ve tried writing first person in Trump’s voice and I can’t do it. He’s too unpredictable.
Going into this article, I knew any mention of the upcoming election was going to be a hot-button topic, so here’s the fine print: vote for whomever you want, or don’t. This is an illustration for you, the reader, to see the thought process of me, the writer, based on what I’ve seen in the news so far.