“What do you think, Franny?” Douglas and Marilyn waited with eager expressions for Franny to answer, to share her impressions or beliefs about the current race for president. They’d been debating the rise of a demagogue, one they’d chosen to call “Voldemort” rather than give him the power of using his real name. Marilyn thought his rise was partly a result of the arrogance of educated liberals who made those who disagreed with them feel inferior. Douglas pinned part of the blame on the deep-seated Calvinism in the character of the country, with its association between blessedness and riches.
In her past life, Franny would have demurred. She would have fallen back on her usual statement, that she didn’t talk politics with friends, in order that they should remain friends. But Douglas had already said they would be friends no matter what her opinions, and Franny was firmly in her new life now. New town, new friends, hot tea, delicious scones, and Precious the dog snoozing comfortably nearby. Franny did not hesitate.
“I think it is the wrong question,” she said. Douglas and Marilyn waited for more. “I think the question of why this, Voldemort, is so popular despite his lies and hatred is the wrong one to ask. I think it is only our egos that want an answer to why this has happened, because we think if we know why, we can prevent it from happening again. But the real question is not why things are as they are, but what do we do in response?”
“You see!” Marilyn cried. “She is such an addition to our conversation, Douglas.”
Douglas leaned forward in his rocking chair. “Well, then, Franny. What do we do? It seems everything that the established politicians have tried has failed. Our Voldemort grows in both power and media coverage. Do we return to ignoring him? Do we attack him out and out? What do we do?”
Franny paused this time. “Well, I don’t think there is one right answer to that. I think the answer will be different for each person.”
“Spoken like a true agnostic.” Douglas smiled.
“I am curious, Franny,” Marilyn joined in. “Do you have a plan in mind for yourself? Can we help? I might be a political atheist, but I love a good fight. Intellectually, I mean, of course. And this seems to be the best one to present itself in a long, long time. If you have a plan, I’d love to know about it.”
“Me too,” said Douglas. “What are you going to do, Franny?”
A sudden shyness overtook Franny as she returned their eager gazes. Even Precious the dog had sat up to look at her, thumping her plumed tail with anticipation for Franny’s answer.
“Well,” Franny said. “I think I could manage another scone.”