It Can’t Happen Here – A Commentary on Donald Trump

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It Can’t Happen Here – A Commentary on Donald Trump

In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote the novel, It Can’t Happen Here,” which imagined fascism coming to the US. The protagonist is Buzz Windrip, a populist demagogue who promises “to make America a proud rich land again.”

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He punishes nations that defy him and raises wages while keeping prices very low. One cannot help but to draw parallels to Donald Trump. Windrip is a demagogic huckster, “an inspired guesser at what political doctrines the people would like” who understands how to manipulate the media and considers the truth an irrelevancy. His constituency of economically dispossessed white men reveres his xenophobic nationalism and preposterous promises. After he wins the 1936 election, Windrip moves to assert control over the press, lock up his opponents and put competent businessmen in charge of the country.

Although this is clearly a novel there is an important message that we all need to take stock of. If fascism comes to the US it would be an American version, not a European one, and that an American fascist leader would likely declare himself an opponent of European fascism, an important point we all need to understand. There are already signs of his fascism. His rallies teeter on the edge of racial violence as we have seen just recently as African-American protesters were forcibly ejected from his events with the help of white supremacist thugs. And if you look at who Trump admires most as leaders around the world, they are dictators and not the democrats.

Trump appears not to know much about totalitarianism, nor does he appear to be an anti-Semite. What he does represent is a reality television star and cyber-bully on his third trophy wife breaking down any moral order possibly remaining. He represents what autocratic attitudes look like in a modern American context.

Der Spiegel, the German magazine has called Trump the most dangerous man in the world – and he is. There have been calls from all around the world from a Swedish nationalist party that started as a neo-Nazis white supremacist group which has disavowed Trump to the popular author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling to stop this madness taking hold in America.

The American founders designed a constitution to prevent the exercise of tyrannical power. They could never have dreamt up a situation we are living in today. What Donald Trump has done is create an America many of us thought we didn’t live in. We all need to wake up because the worse can happen here, and it might if we don’t take responsibility for the country we truly want to have.