One of the difficulties I’ve had in transferring the story of Secretocracy from 2006 to 2018 is that I find myself writing in the past tense about things that have not yet happened. The results of the 2018 mid-term election, four-plus months into the future as I write, are key to the plot. If both houses of Congress come under Democratic control, the path to Gene’s redemption is clear. If they don’t, I’ll have to write a revised ending to show how Gene recovered.
Another problem is conveying the Republican stance in the age of Trump. I am not a political writer, and in my fiction, I don’t take sides. But the behavior of the Republicans in 2018 goes beyond political maneuvering. I believe that most Republican representatives and senators remain silent in the face of Trump’s egregious violation of democracy out of fear. It doesn’t matter. Their reticence condemns them to guilt for colluding in the undoing of the American state. I don’t understand why they abstain from acting. That makes it hard for me to convey them convincingly in a novel.
And I have avoided describing that part of the American electorate that voted for Trump and continues to support him. I understand that the group is something like 35 to 40 percent of those who vote. They baffle me. I don’t see what they find admirable or supportable in Trump. He unmistakably favors the richest 1 percent of Americans. His policies hurt the rest of us, especially the poor. Why does anyone other than billionaires support him?
So writing what one editor called a “political thriller” set in 2018 has unique challenges. Yet so far, I think I’ve succeeded.
Wish me luck.