IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE by Sinclair Lewis

it can't happen


In 1935, Sinclair Lewis published a semi-satirical novel entitled “It Can’t Happen Here.”   The novel is designed to portray the take over of an authoritarian government in the United States.  This is not an easy read, and if you aren’t interested in the parallels between Lewis’ novel and the Trump election and administration, you probably won’t want to wade through it.  Lewis, reportedly, took much longer to research the book than he took writing it (four months) and it suffers from lack of character development and plot drift.   A play was based on the book was produced just after Trump took office.  And, some of the parallels are interesting.

Senator Windrip is the authoritarian President – folksy, charismatic and power-hungry.  People are left wondering what country they are about to get into a war with – Canada, England, Mexico.  At the end of the novel, after sporadic uprisings have occurred, the president launches a war with Mexico.

“As month by month they (the people) saw that they had been cheated with marked cards again, they were indignant; but they were busy with cornfield and sawmill and dairy and motor factory, and it took the impertinent idiocy of demanding that they march down into the desert and help steal a friendly country to jab them into awakening and into discovering that, while they had been asleep, they had been kidnapped by a small gang of criminals, armed with high ideals, well-buttered words, and a lot of machine guns.”


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