It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis predicted a Donald Trump before Donald Trump was even born. In 1935 Lewis explored the rise of fascism in America. The book he wrote dripped with satire and mocked events that, well, captured what Trumpism was, before Trumpism was even and ism.
Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip comes to power by stumping on the idea of representing the “forgotten men and women”. In the novel an actual “League of Forgotten Men and Women” actually support him in the election. Windrip gains the support of these citizens through the verbal bomb throwing preacher Peter Paul Prang who is propped up in the book as the made flesh leader of the “League”. Prang is anti-Semitic, religious, and shepherd s in the support and eventual vote for Windrip.
Once Windrip wins, he disappears Prang –we can assume he was killed.
Each man and woman is “guaranteed” by the media manipulating politician that upon winning the election each prole will receive $5,000 per year to get back the dignity and the mobility that they lost under the leadership of past elitist presidents.
Any of this sound remotely familiar?
Windrip uses race as a tool to divide and conquer. It’s no shock that he speaks directly to the white working class and puts the blame solely on foreigners, blacks, and Jews because he’s an authoritarian. By using populist promises and sprinkling issues of race throughout the campaign Windrip wins handedly. Forgetting the theme of race in the novel for a moment -which is next to impossible- I can’t help but see the similarities between Windrip and Trump winning an election, and how truly naked they both are as presidents after winning.
Trump runs the same plays.
Our president has slashed norms, and created new ones –in some cases with no check or balance. In Lewis’ America, the republic easily slips on the banana peel of authoritarianism -comically infact- and forgets about what actually created these United States –the people and the representation of their power by elected officials. The levers of government are broken down after congress falls apart in the book. Those in congress who don’t support Windrip, and who outright oppose him are jailed or disappeared with the façade that it’s for their own protection.
Windrip ends up consolidating power because he messages what the masses wanted to hear and he seduced them with empty promises –no one ever gets their five grand. Trump has in effect done the same thing. While his defenders wave the stock market and unemployment numbers as shows of victory, we cannot escape the reality that we’ve been sold onions and told to make apple sauce. The deficit in our country is right on track to be higher than what the country produces in gross domestic product.
What does this mean? It means that although the stock market soars -and not everyone is invested in it- the deficit expands, meaning the country goes broke. And why would that be? Because when you cut taxes you effectively cut the revenue of the government. Who cares you say? Veterans, seniors, low income families, children, and everyday Americans to start –they depend on Social Security, Medicare, and other programs funded by taxes.
It’s ironic that the forgotten man and woman that Trump empathically said he was going to represent may be traded in for the uber rich and well off. Just recently the administration -with the help of that definitely not corrupt Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin- has considered another tax cut for the rich.
Capital gains tax is the next haircut in line.
What’s that you say? You don’t want to pay taxes? It’s a good thing to get rid of the capital gains tax? Well good news, more than likely you don’t pay it already. You see at the end of December 2017 the top rich 10% of Americans owned 84% of the all the stock that goes up and down in the market. So not to worry, most of you don’t pay this tax because most of you are not invested in the big money machine.
The lion’s share of this tax break would go straight to the pocket of those not rich enough Americans who invested in the stock market. It’s only fair, when they get to eat more fresh bread, the crumbs that break apart will inevitably fall on the ground and then the rest of the forgotten men and women of this country will get to eat –it’s the trickle down economy, stupid!
It works like this. I invest $500,000. That amount grows to $600,000 –because the stock market is soaring remember? That profit I just made… it’s now tax free –if the CP tax cut happens. That’s right, no taxes for me. You see it’s not like the 8 to 5 you work. You worked for that money so you should be taxed. I however, invested, it’s not work, it’s an investment, so it shouldn’t be taxed. Makes sense right? So what if this is what I primarily do for a living, it’s not working it’s investing in the economy, and I should be rewarded for that.
Oh now you don’t want this tax cut? Well the only power you have to make sure that our real congress doesn’t go the way of Windrip’s, is to vote. But before you vote, you should volunteer, you should donate, you should spread the word, you should read what the press is saying because contrary to popular belief they are not the enemy of the people, they’re the watch dog for the people. Unlike the authoritarian future that Americans voted themselves into in Lewis’ book, we can stop this. We can make it so it can’t happen here.