Mess o’ Politics

I’ll let in on a little secret: YA authors are political.

After all, our books are all about what the future holds, who’s got power and who hasn’t, and how bullies can and should be taken down. They’re about figuring out your place in the world, and making a stand when things are just plain wrong.

What could be more political than all that?

As novelists, of course, our politics are conveyed by Story, which creates a cushion between our world and the real one. Our characters are figments of our imagination, however human they seem. And that softens our politics around the edges.

Like in movies when the president shows up, and it’s Morgan Freeman instead of George Bush. Because who doesn’t trust Morgan Freeman?

But when it comes to politics, “fictional” doesn’t mean the same as “not real.” Our politics are very real.

And here’s secret number two: teenagers are political too.

Teens understand that power matters. Their lives are controlled in some pretty astonishing ways, both by adults and by each other. (I’ve always said that the success of Uglies is partly thanks to high school being a dystopia: a bell rings and you march to your next station; what you say and wear is monitored; the newspapers are censored—for your own good!)

And teenagers also have a huge stake in the politics outside their schoolhouse. I’ve had lots of fan letters from kids whose father and mothers are in Iraq and Afghanistan. And guess what? There are soldiers there today who were 13 years old when Midnighters came out, so some of them may be my readers. Young people fight wars.

Not planning on signing up? Well, guess what: Young people also foot the bill.

As I said in my last post, when the Secretary of the Treasury asks to borrow $700 billion dollars, you guys are the ones who get to pay it back. Every paycheck in your entire lives will reflect those missing billions.

Read that last sentence again, and tell me you’re not interested in politics.

So I think it’s time to skip the fictions for a moment, and say that I support Senator Barack Obama for president of the United States.

The people in charge right now are sucking at being in charge. And all of you are going to feel it for a long time, longer than me. So it’s time to transform the powers that be—not with a small change, but with a big one.

Now, if you’d rather pretend that Morgan Freeman is the president in Westerblog-land, that’s fine. I won’t be posting here about icky real-world politicians. But if you want to read me and about a zillion other YA authors (including Meg Cabot, John Green, Libba Bray, Cecily von Ziegesar, Robin Wasserman, Megan McCafferty, and Judy Blume) weighing in on the election in bone-rattling detail, check out this new site, YA for Obama. The awesome Maureen Johnson set it up as a place where you can network, learn about issues, and make a difference.

Click here to read my first post for YA4O, in which I do the math, Dess-style. And am joined by Gossip Girl herself!

Because as I said yesterday: “You’re going to spend your entire adult lives in the future, after all. So it’s your job to think about it, worry about it, and read about it.”

Go and rock the world.

Update to everyone around Larchmont, NY: Justine will be promoting her new book, How to Ditch Your Fairy, at The Voracious Reader tomorrow at 1PM.

Saturday, 27 September 2008, 1:00PM
Voracious Reader
1997 Palmer Ave
Larchmont, NY

Visit YA for Obama

503 thoughts on “Mess o’ Politics

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