In 1935, Lewis wrote a novel, It Can’t Happen Here, telling readers about the fascism that came to America. It was fiction but it was a warning.
The fascist leader was Buzz Windrip. He “was vulgar..., a public liar easily detected, and in his ‘ideas’ almost idiotic.”
“I know the Press only too well,” Windrip says.
"Almost all editors hide away in spider-dens...plotting how they can put over their lies, and advance their own positions and fill their greedy pocketbooks.”
Windrip "is obsessed with the balance of trade and promises instant economic success."
He says, "I shall not be content till this country can produce every single thing we need … We shall have such a balance of trade as will go far to carry out my often-criticized yet completely sound idea of from $3000 to $5000 per year for every single family.”
This is hard to believe – but the fictional party convention in the novel is held in Cleveland.
Long story short, Windrip wins the people over with his charm and b.s., and fascism takes hold in the country. Journalists and others (some of them jailed) bemoan what went wrong.
Sullivan's article will be ranked high among the thoughtful pieces written about the campaign (at least over the short term, because who knows what's to come in the next weeks).
Sullivan’s messages are disturbing, especially for those who are won over by his apparent outrage over Hillary Clinton's vote on Iraq (and her overall seeming lack of sincerity), but who feel compelled to listen to Sullivan's impassioned request for compromise in the face of national calamity.
The underlying theme of American democracy and its sometimes wobbly two centuries of survival provokes thought. To say the least.