Many would suggest that it certainly could happen ‘here,’ which is precisely the point that Sinclair Lewis was making when he wrote this book in 1935.
It Can’t Happen Here. Are we so sure? Many would suggest that it certainly could happen ‘here,’ which is precisely the point that Sinclair Lewis was making when he wrote this book in 1935. This, incidentally, was still a few years before the worst fears would unfold in Germany, giving the book a somewhat prophetic flair.
Based on the American Democrat, Huey Long, it has been, despite that, often been associated with ‘right wing’ movements. This is ironic, as only a few years later it would be the Democrat FDR that would put American-Japanese citizens into concentration camps using ’emergency powers,’ much as the book’s protagonist, Berzelius Windrip, was portrayed as doing, after beating FDR in 1936. In case you miss the irony: the real-life FDR actually did what the fictional Windrip was portrayed as doing!
The long history of abandoning civil rights using emergency powers was reprised more recently during the COVID pandemic, when Western nations and individual US states, ostensibly ‘democracies,’ nonetheless invoked emergency powers to enact all sorts of authoritarian measures.
Thus, when pondering whether or not ‘it can happen here’ (which all assume it can) we are perhaps left with a more intriguing question: Why hasn’t it happened here? And then, once this has been answered, work to ensure that the factors that have prevented a full-blown authoritarian regime from materializing in the United States are retained and strengthened.
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