No one likes getting lectured. Lectures are supreme arrogance. It’s saying I am right, you are wrong, and you must stand there and listen to how right I am and wrong you are. Political lectures are the worse, because in areas of such disagreement, it takes the most supreme arrogance to declare yourself the arbiter of what’s right.
Now, I for the most part don’t like politics in my fiction. Politics is stupid and fiction is for having fun. So for the most part, I avoid politics in the novels I’m writing — I want to write about more important things than the usual stuff people screech at each other about. And most importantly, I want my writing to be fun. Still, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to approach politics in fiction.
The correct way is to just present a view as “here is another way of looking at things.” The incorrect way is “here is the correct way of looking at things.” The former can cause people to think, the latter is a lecture and annoying. A good example of the former was House which often had each episode centered around a controversial topic but just presented the sides without picking one. Another is early seasons of the Simpsons which touched on such topics as immigration and guns without saying, “Here is what you should think about these.” One of the worst examples of lecturing I can think of, though, was Boston Legal. While I really like the James Spader and William Shatner characters, I had to stop watching that show because I couldn’t stand the Spader lectures. I think it was a lecture I agreed with that was the final straw. If you were to make a list of all the people you feel the need to know the political wisdom of, where would TV show writers fall on that list? So how much arrogance does it take for one to say, “Here is how you should think about things!”
And while it’s not the best example for this, I should point out in that Love Gov series I wrote, it was the bad guy constantly lecturing people. It was part of what made him intolerable.
So, in summary, touching on politics is okay in fiction, but only if you have something unique and interesting to say and you present it as “here’s an interesting way to look at things that you may not have thought of.” But if you get it in your head you have the truth and everyone must accept it, that’s where you get intolerable.
Was this a lecture? Yes. But if you were writing preachy politics into fiction, fell lucky you got off with just a lecture.
UPDATE: I should mention that Hellbender (which a number of you should have gotten a beta copy of) touches on politics a lot more than my previous two novels, but I’m hoping in the non-annoying way. That’s why I’ve also been trying to find left-leaning test readers.
Also, I’ve just started watching an inherently political show — Comrade Detective on Amazon Prime — which is positioned as one big political lecture (as that’s what propaganda is). It’s so absurd, though, that the political lectures are just stupid fun.