What Is on the Ballot

October 27th, 2020 by Max Allan Collins

As those of you who follow these blog/updates know, I do my best to steer clear of politics. I have dipped a toe in the water a few times, losing a toe or two in the process, but mainly I’ve stayed mum. I think many of you already know where I stand, although not necessarily.

I avoid politics here because, on the one hand, I respect your opinions, or at least your right to have those opinions. On the other hand, I don’t wish to alienate potential or current customers (as Mickey Spillane described his readers). Some time ago – and many of you already know this – I stopped posting anything on Facebook that was inherently political. I do post these updates there, and if someone posts something about a book or movie of mine, I sometimes share it.

And I belong to groups at Facebook on topics ranging from comics to movies, from paperback collecting to pin-ups. Within these groups, I often make comments – apolitical comments.

When I was on Facebook and getting into the political battle – even aware, as I was, that no argument has ever been won on the Internet – I lost or at least damaged one of my most cherished friendships. There are people I work with and people I love do who not share my politics, which is another reason why I have (largely) kept my mouth shut here.

But – as eighteenth century Irish statesman Edmund Burke said – “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” My collaborator Matthew Clemens included that quote within the text of our forthcoming novel, Come Spy With Me, when JFK urges secret agent John Sand to come out of retirement.

So. I am going to urge you to vote. But I am also going to remind you what – not who – is on the ballot this time.

Civility. Decency. Science. Honesty. Equality. Empathy. Democracy.

I am tempted to add these words from the opening of the old Superman TV show: “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” Here. Take a look.

Now, notice I haven’t mentioned anyone by name. Barb and I have already voted. If you know who I’m talking about, and are considering voting for him, I would invite you first to reflect.


23 Responses to “What Is on the Ballot”

  1. Neal Alhadeff says:

    The words leading up to “Truth, Justice and the American Way” are pretty key, too: it’s a “never ending battle.”

  2. Sam says:

    Since you opened the door:


    That is not a trait I’d ascribe to a well-documented serial plagiarist, who borrows other peoples’ bios, who lies about his own — and who dissembles about his son’s corruption-laden laptop and emails.

  3. Sam, I have no intention of replying to you or to anyone else who responds to my post. I have implied — not stated — my position.

  4. linda moelter says:

    Great post. We’ve already voted and I agree with your seven words that are important this time as much as anything.

  5. Mike Doran says:

    As it happens, I voted by mail about a week ago.
    Late yesterday, I was informed via Email by the Cook County Board that my ballot had been received, and would be held for counting when the time comes, next week.
    So There Too.

    Politics stopped making sense to me long ago – specifically when the more extreme of its practitioners turned it into a quasi-religion (on all sides, and they know who they are).

    After this particular season wraps up (so to speak), much of the damage to those of us who are not hardliners one way or the other will persist ; I’m not looking forward to still having to rethink everything I say – or write – many times before I say or write it (as I did with the preceding sentence – third draft, and I’m still uneasy about it).

    I was going to say something about “cancel culture” – or as it used to be called, “blacklisting” – but I seem to have hit a thought wall (or at least a fence), and so I’ll stand down for now.

    Oh, about that Superman speech:
    Actually, it goes back to Old-Time Radio days, specifically to WWII, when the sentiment really counted for something.
    My understanding (subject to correction) is that it was the creation of someone at the Leo Burnett ad agency here in Chicago, in the service of Kellogg’s Pep cereal.
    We have come a long way, haven’t we?
    (Haven’t we … ?)

    I was going to close with the usual ” ‘Til next time …”
    – But now I’m just hoping that there’ll be a “next time” …

  6. JohnJ says:

    It’s always nice to know that “The Adventures of Superman” exists in its own little pocket universe, outside of anything that’s been published or produced since. Simply by the fact that in the first episode “Superman on Earth” we meet little Clark’s foster parents, Eben and Sarah Kent. All the Jonathans and Marthas since have raised different Kal-Els, in fact I’m not sure if Jor-El and Lara ever referred to him by that name in the episode. I guess I need to watch it again to check on that.

  7. A version of the opening is in the Fleischer cartoons, too — which the opening of the TV show mimicks.

    I loved that show as a kid, and still do really, although the grittier first season is what I love. I still hope to do either a Jack Starr or Nate Heller about George Reeves (I postponed a book I was already researching when the film HOLLYWOODLAND came out, exploring the same subject and even as a private eye story…I think that’s been long ago enough that I can consider it again).

    I will do a cancel-culture/blacklisting post one of these days soon.

  8. Neal Alhadeff says:

    A Heller/Reeves story would be great! I hope you do it.

  9. Lazarus Long says:

    It’s really great to know that tolerance of opposing g ideological points of view can still be tolerated in this country. Freedom of speech entails hearing viewpoints and opinions you may hate.
    And yes get out and vote!
    Vote your conscience. Take a stand!

  10. Mark Lambert says:

    Amen, brother. By the way, I used to teach college political science courses part-time. I taught a class entitled “Issues in Public Administration” once and I showed my class part of the first episode of the Superman TV series, where on Krypton the scientists including Jor-El were warning the politicians that Krypton was going to explode, but the politicians ignored the scientists. That was in the context of a discussion of the 2003 Space Shuttle disaster. (That scene may be relevant for other issues today). After that part of the first episode, many in the class were actually upset that I turned off the video — they wanted to watch all of it! Most of the students were too young to ever have seen the series. I ended up turning the video back on toward the end of the class, and several students stayed late to watch to the end of the episode!

  11. MARK O LAMBERT says:

    P.S. to my previous message, actually it was a discussion of the 1986 Space Shuttle disaster. Got the two confused.

  12. Betty Cleffman Hager says:

    You have implied but not stated your position? Yet you have enticed us to look at the clues and make a guess. Ok, I’ll bite. Your description of what’s on the ballot presumes that one candidate represents them, and one does not. Take “decency”: One candidate is decent; the other (and by association those who would vote for him) is not. One might even say the other candidate and his supporters are not just indecent but DEPLORABLE. See what I did there? Science. Equality. Democracy. Unfortunately, these have all become buzz terms of one party, as if the other wants superstition, unfairness, and totalitarianism. You voted for Biden. I know, I know, you can’t confirm it because you’re standing on principle not to be political. Otherwise, I’d ask you to prove me wrong.

  13. I do see what you’re doing, Betty — you’re reading in. I don’t claim that it will take Sherlock Holmes to figure out who I voted for. But those concepts are not “buzz” words, at least not to me. Nor do I claim much less think that every person who votes for the other candidate shares that candidate’s flaws and/or views. In fact many voters are one-issue voters who, in my opinion, give in to an ends-justify-the-means position, which is understandable but dangerous. I did not call anyone indecent or deplorable. Your words, not mine.

    I will say this. I am a 72 year-old man who has heart disease, cancer, diabetes, is a stroke survivor and a whole bunch of other goodies that put a target on my back. I also have a grandson who was a premie and has asthma. I take science and medicine seriously. I prefer the idea of Superman to a Super-Spreader.

  14. David Anderson says:

    Well said, Max. Up here in Canada, we are watching and hoping. [Not that our scandal-ridden government is anything to brag about!]

    P.S. I’m currently reading Wrong Quarry and enjoying it very much. I love the way you dive straight into the plot – BANG! we’re right amid the action from the first sentence. Your latest Heller will be next after this.

  15. Betty Cleffman C Hager says:

    What choice do I have but to “read in.” You set it up that way: “I have implied but not stated my position.” Clever. No, you didn’t call anyone indecent or deplorable, but you implied it by your zero-sum, “what’s on the ballot” items. I do agree with your take on one-issue voters. As for the target on your back (about which I am sympathetic), you seem to assume I don’t have a like target and don’t take science and medicine seriously. You might be wrong about that. As far as Superman vs Super-Spreader, it’s a cute turn of phrase, but it doesn’t really mean anything. At least you have confirmed that I am correct about your vote, not that it was a hard call.

  16. And I yours, Betty. Reading and assertaining where I was coming from was expected. Assuming that by “science” I meant others are “superstitious” (and the rest of your assumptions) takes it a step beyond. If you have a target on your back, too, I hope you aren’t going to a Super-Spreader event to prove me wrong.

  17. Dan Collins says:

    Thanks for your comments and your books. I’m an old man and just want to see my grandkids and not be scared when I go out shopping. Surrendering to a virus is not the answer. Make a plan and VOTE!

  18. Betty Cleffman C Hager says:

    Well, we could spar for a long spell on this topic, but let me go a different direction. I am in awe of your talent. I am proud of your professional/creative accomplishments. You might be 72, but in spirit, you’ll always be young at heart because of your creative energy and love of life, family, friendships, and community. I also wish you the very best as you and your doctors manage the health challenges that confront you. Thanks for the opportunity to exchange perspectives, Al. Best to you and your family! –Betty

  19. David says:

    The old radio show The Adventures of Ellery Queen used to use this in its closing, “This is Ellery Queen saying good night till next week and enlisting all Americans every day and every night in the fight against bad citizenship, bigotry, and discrimination, the crimes which are weakening America.”

  20. Thanks to all of you for these (mostly) thoughtful comments.

    And, Betty, you were very gracious to say the things you did about me. In this divided country, a conversation like ours could go on and on and become increasingly shrill. You opted for civility and kindness. Thank you.

  21. Chris says:

    I’m not particularly astute, but I suspect that our political views differ (possibly proof of my first statement). However, I appreciate a thoughtful appeal so much more than a shrill lecture, and I can respect a man who’s true to his conscience.

  22. Thanks, Chris. Your reaction is encouraging. If this election goes the way I fear it might, I dread the widening gulf between sides in this largely 50/50 nation.

  23. Dennis says:

    Allen, I wish all the best for you with your health concerns. At our age, nearly all of us have, or have had, our issues. Like you, I hold strong political views. I have friends, some long standing close friends, who hold diametrically opposed views to mine. They are not bad or stupid; but we certainly see the world and its issues differently. I hold great hope for the future. Our children and grandchildren will make an even better world.