On the night of November 8, when it had become clear that Donald J. Trump was going to be the next…oh, god, don’t make me say it…President of the United States, I turned to my oldest friend, on the couch next to me, and said, “For the next four years we’re going to see some incredible art.”
That’s the only glimmer of hope I could find, as nearly half of my country showed its worst instincts by voting for Trump: a bullying authoritarian (a true example of George Saunders’ “braindead megaphone”), a democracy-hating fascist who’s slogan should be: “One for me and none for all.”
Trump’s incivility during his campaign sickened me, and he stood for some awful, anti-American things. The social biggies: racism, misogyny and exclusion. But it’s been his anti-freedom stance and post-truth nonsense that rattles me most (and somehow, bafflingly, doesn’t rattle his supporters). News flash: if someone tries to humiliate and discredit the press, they’re trying to get away with something.
There’s this amazing clip of Richard Dreyfuss on Real Time with Bill Maher that has stuck with me since I first saw it in 2006. Too long; didn’t watch: America is a miracle; it can go away in an instant; when shit goes down we should say: “What am I responsible for?” (Not: “Tell us what to do!”)
So, what am I responsible for within the idea of America?
In the weeks after November 8 — when it felt like all social momentum, all progress had been halted—I came to understand that Literary Death Match is a weapon against the threats posed by this upcoming administration (though I tend to call it a “regime”). Each event offers us the chance to stand in opposition to an America we don’t want, by giving voice to the America we do. So each show going forward will be a showcase America as it is, and as we demand it continue to be: diverse.
The way I see it, literature equals freedom. And with a President-Elect that boasts that he hasn’t read a book in 25 years, we’re all in for a serious fight. An existential battle for the freedoms of expression and a belief in civility. Don’t believe me? Look at his Cabinet: a who’s who of anti-decency (from a white supremacist chief-of-staff; a sexist Labor secretary; and a homophobic Vice President that daydreams The Handmaid’s Tale would come true).
Nearly 11 years ago, when LDM started on a whim, I never thought it would stand for anything, or would ever need to. But now I see that it must. There’s no other choice. I hope you’ll support us and join us as we fight the power.
Adrian Todd Zuniga
LDM Creator & Host