In the new National Review, I write on how liberals use and abuse Sinclair Lewis’s novel It Can’t Happen Here:
Imagine this pitch for a dystopian novel: An ambitious 48-year-old Democratic senator from Illinois runs for president. He promises to raise taxes, restrict personal incomes, and collectivize everything. “Call me a socialist!” he says. Deposing a well-known senior member of his party, he goes on to win the general election. People call him “that sky-rocket.”
Then this happens: Shortly after his inauguration, the new president suspends the Constitution, imposes martial law, and governs as a fascist dictator.
Presented with this scenario, liberals would howl in horror. They’d label the plot preposterous. They’d denounce it as a right-wing fever dream. They’d accuse its author of racism and possibly run for a safe space. Or so it might seem. Instead, they’re praising an 81-year-old novel that reads in part like a biography of Barack Obama — and calling it a prophecy of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The book is It Can’t Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis…