Will the liberal media ever get tired of comparing Donald Trump to Sinclair Lewis’s celebrated 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here. It doesn’t seem so.
A Financial Times article by Edward Luce yesterday declared Trump was their person of the year began by linking the President-elect to Lewis’ book, which depicted a fascist takeover in America. “It Can’t Happen Here was the title of Sinclair Lewis’s celebrated 1935 novel about fascism in America,” Luce wrote.
“It didn’t then, and many well-informed Americans — Republicans and Democrats — believed that the election of Donald Trump wouldn’t happen.” The FT previously made the comparison last March.
The Guardian, Slate, The Daily Beast and Salon have all published features in the last year about It Can’t Happen Here . They have all made the same point — highlighting the perceived similarities between Trump and Sinclair Lewis’ charismatic Presidential demagogue protagonist Buzz Windrip who adopts an anti-immigrant stance and declares war on the liberal press — and conclude by praising the author for his prescience.
The New Yorker’s Ian Crouch has highlighted the connection as has Andrew Sullivan in New York magazine. Time published an article about the fact that the novel is doing brisk business on Amazon (it’s not all that surprising given all the coverage it is getting.)
Never one to refrain from jumping on a liberal bandwagon when it sees one, The Huffington Post has written two features analyzing Trump’s similarities to Buzz Windrip. Jacob Weisberg, Chairman and Editor-of-Chief of Salon, has written about the subject several times for multiple outlets.
Then there was Berkeley Repertory Theater’s adaptation of It Can’t Happen Here , staged to coincide with the election last fall. It was the subject of a New York Times feature in September centered around … comparing Trump to the plot of It Can’t Happen Here.
The play made its way into the Broadway for Hillary fundraiser last October with Jon Hamm and Jake Gyllenhaal performing a scene to much rapture from Clinton supporters.
We’ve even had one liberal publishing bastion interview another about the book (NPR’s conversation with New Yorker editor David Remnick cited the tome).
The liberal establishment got the Trump phenomenon hopelessly wrong so it’s not surprising the likeness between the President-elect and Sinclair Lewis’s protagonist doesn’t stand up to all that much scrutiny.
If only it did. As Lewis Beale in The Daily Beast observed: “Trump is not Windrip, because Windrip is basically an ideologue, while the president-elect is more of a deal maker, and not a policy person.”