PICTURE THIS: A folksy, self-consciously plainspoken Southern politician rises to power during a period of profound unrest in America. The nation is facing one of the half-dozen or so of its worst existential crises to date, and the people, once sunny, confident, and striving, are now scared, angry, and disillusioned. Through a combination of factors -his easy bearing chief among them (along with massive cash donations from Big Business; disorganization in the liberal opposition; a stuffy, aloof opponent; and support from religious fanatics who feel they've been unfairly marginalized)-he wins the presidential election. Ripped from today's headlines? Nope. Sinclair Lewis, Circa 1935: "It Can't Happen Here" has been recently reissued. But you can read it here (with free registration) at American Buddha (possibly NSFW). first link via Arts & Letters Daily
Fascism in America? It Can't Happen Here is a masterful satire in which a popular, dimwitted politician rises to dictatorial power on the backs of radio evangelists, opponents of urban, yacht-owning, college professor liberalism, common people, and the Rotary Club. America is pushed into a manufactured war by all-powerful corporate interests, liberties are restricted in the name of national emergency, and all is coordinated by a behind-the-scenes political maestro sometimes called "the brain." Sound familiar? It's nothing new: the book was written by Sinclair Lewis in 1935.