Following the controversial election, many people are scavenging the shelves to see what literary figure most accurately predicted such a political upset. Most recently, the internet has pointed to an excerpt in Richard Rorty’s 1998 book, Achieving Our Country, which predicts that:
Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. …
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past 40 years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.”
Now, people have turned their attention to the great American satirist from the roaring 20’s, Sinclair Lewis. His book It Can’t Happen Here details a fascist’s rise to power in the United States. The novel is now completely sold out on Amazon, and holds the number one spot under classics and political genre fiction.
While the massive political split in our country is unsettling, one might be optimistic that Americans are seeing this as an opportunity to read up on their history, to understand the current climate. Score one for reading!
Featured image courtesy of NPR