By Larry Kahaner
I’m sorry to disappoint everyone, but my novel “USA, Inc.” isn’t about the current U.S. president.
The problem obviously comes from my original cutline (which I’ve recently changed. Why? Read on.) “What if the US were run like a corporation and a madman was in charge?”
Because of the politically and socially charged atmosphere in which we’re living, potential readers on both sides of the aisle were interpreting this teaser according to their own belief system — and many of them thought the story was about Trump.
It wasn’t. It isn’t. In fact, I started this book several years ago when the president wasn’t even a blip on the POTUS radar.
Reading the longer description sometimes helps to dispel this errant notion. (I’m not shilling my book here; I’m trying to make a point): “Relegated to the low end of the law enforcement food chain after his fall from grace at the FBI, Mike Wardman vows to find the people responsible for the murder of his ex-fiancée and uncovers a plot to topple the government of the United States. The action spreads from Chesapeake Bay to the Caribbean island of Nevis as Mike uncovers a maniacal billionaire’s plot to use a Constitutional loophole to run states like corporations – that only he controls.”
Even so, readers’ knives already were sharpened and those on social media chimed in with comments like, “Don’t we already have this situation?” and “What did you expect from Trump?” Those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, said: “How dare you call our President a madman?” and “We need the government to be run like a business, and Trump is a business success.”
Hello… how many times do I need to say that my book is not about Trump?
These responses show me that a) people don’t read past a headline before making an assessment and b) people see what they want to see despite what’s presented to them.
Sociologists have a name for this. It’s called Confirmation Bias, and it occurs when people bring their own pre-conceived notions into a new situation.
We are seeing first hand this closing of the mind in our current political landscape where truth goes out the window and people take positions based on their own convictions and self-interest despite verifiable information to the contrary.
People are reading into things that don’t exist – like thinking that my book is about the President – because they are so quick to decide what something is about without reading beyond the headline. They want to take offense, and they want to take sides. (Disclaimer: I am not a fan of the president’s policies.)
There’s an old saying attributed to Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachman in the Talmud: We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
And that’s the real problem.
Thanks for listening and please read my book.
It’s not about Trump.