Tuesday, December 14, 2021


      Still working through It Can't Happen Here, the 1935 Sinclair Lewis novel in which it does, in fact, happen here.

      It's sobering reading, especially in his choice to model the autocrat on Huey Long.  The Kingfish was a familiar type of politician, merely writ larger and more successful than most, and as a result, the fictional "Buzz Windrip" seems quite like many another Senator, Governor, Congressperson or big-city Mayor.  His personality and style is one of the most plausible parts of the book.

      The remainder is a mish-mash of populist worries and authoritarian actions history has played through over and over, most of it elsewhere.  Not all of it translates as well as it might have looked to in 1935 -- but too much of it does.

      Reading the book has reaffirmed my belief that federalism is one of this country's great strengths, that the decentralized, squabbling nature of our elections and local governments is a very good thing.  It has reminded me that we tinker with Mr. Madison's work at our (and our posterity's) very great peril, and that we should be gravely suspicious of anyone, especially any politician, who goes looking for shortcuts and loopholes -- no matter if we agree with or oppose their aims.  Means matter as much as ends; rules matter, and so does all that tiresome debate and lawyering.  If nothing more, it buys time for a closer look -- and it usually buys us a great deal more than that.

      I don't care who you vote for nearly as much as what you'll let them get away with.

1 comment:

Lergnom said...

Lovin' the last chapter:
He was interested by the entrance of a lady more decorative than the females customarily seen in this modest inn: a hand-tooled presentation copy of a lady, in crushed levant and satin doublure; a lady with mascara'd eyelashes, a permanent wave, and a cobweb frock.