Yesterday Daily Beast contributor Lewis Beale reminded that a Donald Trump-like demagogue and presidential candidate was imagined by revered 20th Century novelist Sinclair Lewis in a 1935 novel called “It Can’t Happen Here.” Lewis’s cautionary tale about a hate-monger and resentment-exploiter named Berzelius Windrip, who mouths Trumpisms chapter and verse, recently became Amazon’s number one bestseller in the Classic American Literature category.
Beale’s opening paragraph: “It’s an election year, in a time of economic uncertainty. Running for president is a ranting populist type who has a bestselling book that is part biography, and part shameless boasting. He promises to ‘make America a proud, rich land again,’ rails against blacks, Jews, and Mexicans, and makes it a point of criticizing the press, whose editors he accuses of ‘plotting how they can put over their lies, and advance their own positions.'”
In 1988 Robbie Conal used “it can’t happen here” to illustrate one of his anti-George H.W. Bush posters.