Author Wisdom for 2016 Election

Yesterday marked the kick off of the Democratic National Convention. We saw some high kicking donkeys come out to champion Hilary, but one in particular caught my eye – and probably any Maya Angelou lover’s eye too.

Senator Cory Booker was one of many to speak at the convention. Between praising Hilary, denouncing the Democratic Party’s small-handed competitor, and patriotic gestures, Booker brought down the house reciting Maya Angelou’s famous poem “And Still I Rise.”

“Let me tell you right now, when Trump spews insulting and demeaning words about our fellow Americans, I think of that poem by Maya Angelou […] ‘You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I’ll rise.’”

The trill of poetics isn’t the first instance of a politician throwing purple shade in the election arena. Plenty of notables on both sides of the party line have snuck in shout outs to famed poets and novelists. If you’re watching the DNC this week and a line feels familiar, it very well may be a lit reference. After all, why emulate greatness when you can just quote greatness? But, instead of giving you politicians quoting literature (you’re bound to get your dose between now and November), how about literary superstars talking politics?

Here’s what a few famed authors have to say on the topic. Perhaps their words can provide some needed wisdom for the coming election and if nothing else a unique perspective.


Julian Barnes

Image courtesy of Daily Beast

“The greatest patriotism is to tell your country when it is behaving dishonorably, foolishly, viciously.”


Hunter S. Thompson (on the campaign trail ’72)

Image courtesy of The Quietus

“The whole framework of the presidency is getting out of hand. It’s come to the point where you almost can’t run unless you can cause people to salivate and whip on each other with big sticks. You almost have to be a rock star to get the kind of fever you need to survive in American politics.”


William Faulkner

Image courtesy of Biography

“Government was founded on the working premise of being primarily an asylum for ineptitude and indigence.”


George Orwell

Image courtesy of Counter Currents

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

“One ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark, its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” 


Michel Foucault

Image courtesy of Citelighter

“Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.”


David Foster Wallace

Image courtesy of Vol1 Brooklyn

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.” 


Junot Diaz

Image courtesy of Remezcla

“I think one always has to be mindful that the thing we think will bring revolution can also bring oppression. I think [things like the internet] are tools; they’re not all good and they’re not all bad.”


Kurt Vonnegut

Image courtesy of Daily Galaxy 

“I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka ‘Christians,’ and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or ‘PPs.’”