American alternative politics finds its heroine in Trafton’s (You Can't Push A Rope, 2006) congressional what-if novel.
A campaign in New Mexico has managed to put a third candidate on the ballot for congressional elections, but instead of running a party member, they will select a “random American person” (or RAP) who is eligible for the office if the party wins the seat. Unexpectedly, the RAP campaign triumphs, and its members randomly determine that pot-smoking, chicana lesbian Rosie Gonzalez will become the newest member of the House of Representatives. Armed with a belief in the need for dramatic reform, Rosie makes numerous enemies within the establishment, but she activates a powerful following among the Occupiers, minority groups and average American people. Rosie acts as a soapbox for Trafton’s political stances; though her life is believable, her role in the novel is emblematic of the struggle working-class Americans face against corporations and their political clout. She finds herself in the crosshairs of increasingly dangerous attacks: a sex scandal and a DEA raid progress to threats against her staff and an attempt on her life. Rosie and her staff members provide a fresh perspective for the genre, but Trafton sometimes typecasts his characters, especially those who are sexual or racial minorities. His passion is inspiring as he illuminates crucial, relevant issues, although he doesn’t display specialized knowledge of politics and its complexities. The insights offered are not much more profound than a typical protester’s critique, which leads to a standard political-thriller plot that feels too predictable for the novel’s radical scenario.
Ardent, progressive ideas derailed by a predictable plotline and stereotyped characters.