… and it feels strange and awful to type that: President Trump! Good grief, what a horror!
While we were waking up to the terrible news, I was amused to notice that It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis has become a bestseller since the result was announced. First published in 1935, this is one of the great dystopian satires in American literature. It tells of a demagogic politician who rises to become President of the United States. While the common people feel apathetic and increasingly powerless, he wages a war against crime and sex and welfare cheats and the liberal media until America turns into a full-blown fascist dictatorship. It reads, quite frankly, like a blueprint for the Trump presidency.
1935, when Lewis’s book came out, was a time of deep political division in America. The Great Depression was still cutting deep, and though President Roosevelt was instituting a string of socially liberal measures to make things better, there was a powerful right wing opposition, led of all people by the immensely popular aviator, Charles Lindbergh (a media star and demagogue who, when you think about it, bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump). Lindbergh, in particular, looked with admiration to the fascist regimes of Mussolini and Hitler, and wanted to introduce their ideas into America. So, in another book that seems like a blueprint for Trump, Philip Roth imagined what would happen if Lindbergh actually managed to become President. The Plot Against America is a savage account of the way repression can be introduced, and is ignored by the majority of the population because they are not directly affected.
Take these two novels together and you have a really terrifying vision of what the next four years are going to be like.
Personally, I think I might binge-watch The West Wing to remind myself of a time when intelligence and tolerance and compassion were a given in American politics. To all of our friends in America, good luck, take care, and keep up the good fight.
From Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder.
Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate.