According To Literature, We Should Have Expected A Trump Presidency

According To Literature, We Should Have Expected A Trump Presidency

Literature has the uncanny prescience and knowledge we need to understand politics.

When I tell people I’m an English Literature major, their response is “Oh, so you want to teach?” This is the polite way of saying “Oh, I see you decided to study something so useless that your only choice now is to teach said useless study.” Maybe I am putting too much emphasis on my personal experience, but I do believe there are far too many people who see literature as mere escapism, having no relation to reality.

To me, this mentality is somewhat problematic, or at the very least, a sign of our collective naivety when it comes to the purpose of literature. As far as I’m concerned (and yes, this statement is loaded with a shit ton of bias), literature posits problems and solutions we all face in the real world and, if we all took it seriously, our world would be plagued by a lot fewer issues.

Now, obviously, there isn’t any proof that I’m right and thus, I’m willing to admit that I could be wrong. However, I will try to give some examples of some books I’ve read recently that demonstrate the uncanny prescience some texts have in regard to our societal problems; in this case, specifically politics.

The first novel I would like to address is “It Can’t Happen Here," written by Sinclair Lewis during the Great Depression. In short, the book is about the rise of fascism in America, as a fictional presidential candidate wins the favor of the citizens by promising to help the lower-classes. Once in office, he fails to fulfill all of his promises and tries to keep power by attacking the liberal media.

Sound familiar?

If not, I will just inform you that this book has gained some recent popularity since Trump has taken office. Now, the events that take place in “It Can’t Happen Here” are much more absurd than our current political atmosphere (I know, sounds impossible), but this is why the novel, written in 1935, was able to foresee the politics of today--because Lewis had the imagination to envision a president as ridiculous as Trump.

This is quite different from the overwhelming majority of people who never gave Trump a chance, not even the so called “political experts.” But in literature, everything is possible, and something as improbable as a fascist president is more than probable.

Continuing with politics in literature, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World Revisited” (written in 1958) is his reflection on the ideas he proposed in “Brave New World.” In an essay about political candidates, Huxley says,

"He must also be an entertainer who never bores his audience… All speeches by the entertainer-candidate must therefore be short and snappy…The nature of the oratory is such that there has always been a tendency among the politicians and clergymen to over-simplify complex issues...The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything."

Looking at this quote, it seems that Trump would have been the favorite, for clearly, he was the most entertaining. Furthermore, his campaign was simply perfect, for at no point did Trump offer insight on how he was going to fix the complex problems of our contemporary society. Rather, he went around demanding the end to ISIS and denouncing anything and all things that didn’t benefit America. By doing so, he managed to convince half the nation that conditions in the United States would vastly improve if he were president, without knowing anything about politics. How terribly brilliant!

Based on these two literary texts, Trump should have been regarded as a serious threat to our liberties and democracy the second he decided to run for president. Yet, we didn’t really take him seriously, and many non-voters (myself included), didn’t bother to vote, primarily because we didn’t see a world where Trump was president (it also didn’t help that Hillary was fucking awful).

This is just one example of how literature can alter how we see the world and provide us with the knowledge we need to make a difference. Once again, I can’t say reading will enlighten us enough to create change, but who knows, maybe if I and some other non-voters came across “It Can’t Happen Here” and “Brave New World Revisited” prior to the election, we would have felt more compelled to vote.

In short, outside of politics, literature can emphasize the problems of our world by exaggerating them to the utmost extreme. However, in this extreme, which initially seems impossible, we come to realize that the impossible will one day become possible and open our eyes to not only the problems of humanity, but also to the potential of humanity.
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​Here’s Why You Need To Talk To Your Representative About The Global Partnership For Education

If you view education as a right, then it’s time to demand its availability to those who can’t demand it for themselves.

Whether or not you view yourself as the kind of person who likes to get involved with politics and, well, the world, we no longer live in a time where we have the luxury of avoiding things. Maybe we never did, but today is the day to stop it once and for all.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) needs your help and your voices to make sure every child has access to education. You would think education is a right, something that shouldn’t have to be fought for, but that’s not the case for millions of children around the world.

RESULTS, a grassroots organization that fights for international aid and improved education and health for people around the world, estimates that 40% of the world’s children do not have the chance to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills.

It’s ridiculous, right? But that’s where GPE comes in. This organization creates a model of education to reach children all areas of the world with help from international aid, private donations, and support from constituents like you and me.

In fact, GPE is the only organization to work with low-income countries that have gaps in their funding for necessary education programs. The support given to GPE from everyday people and countries that have the means to help make sure that every child has access to education and a chance to improve their life.

For the United States, it isn’t about what political parties support the resolutions introduced into the House and the Senate, especially in the case of GPE. This is because no one can deny that education is something every child needs. This cannot be stressed enough because while many people will agree with this, they will not be moved to doing something about it.

That’s where you come in. Representatives want to hear the voices of those who put them in office. How do they accomplish anything you want to see done, anything that you put them in office to do?

Until you make an effort to contact your representatives about the issues you care most about, you have no right to be upset about a representative’s failure to address what you want to see done. A good way to start is by contacting your representatives asking for them to cosign House Resolution 466, the Global Partnership for Education.

Don’t want to take the time to address this necessary and life-changing support for children around the world? I’ll make it easy.

Visit this link and put in your zip code to find your representatives. It takes less than a minute to fill out your information and send a pre-filled email asking them to support GPE.

If you feel like doing more, try weekly phone calls and emails. Tweets and Facebook posts. Ever tried ignoring a constituent who refuses to be ignored? That’s typically how we get things done.

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It's Time To Talk About Black Entitlement

In case you didn't realize that different races are held to different standards.

As my senior year of high school was in full swing and everything college was being thrown my way, the time to apply for scholarships arose. I had already decided which college I would attend, had done my FAFSA application and everything else that is vital to have as college approaches.

Living in a small and sheltered town, I had never really been exposed to racial conflict. I knew that there were different stereotypes that went along with the different races and all about our nation's history regarding race, but I had never fully experienced any situation in which race was a leading factor. When the word "race" or "black and white people" was said, the different standards that each of those races was and are held to, never came to mind.

I had never thought that white people were different from black people, Asians, Hispanics, or any other race. This was a naive and anything but accurate approach. As I was searching for scholarships and reading through qualifications, I was stunned at the number of scholarships there were that I was not qualified for simply because I was not black.

I was more than qualified in every other area they were requiring and searching for but I had no chance. This didn't seem fair. I had not stumbled upon one scholarship that required you to be of the white race to apply. I was mostly confused. Why was this race excluding other races and why was that acceptable?

In today's society, "white privilege" is a very common phrase. The connotation of the "battle of the races" is that white people are privileged, meaning they automatically receive unearned advantages and everyday perks. While black people are victims, suffering and having to work twice as hard for everything they have. This may very well have been the case 20 years ago. But today, a different race is taking on the privileged reputation. This is what we call black entitlement.

To explain this controversial statement, the reason I say black entitlement is so prominent in our society today is mostly due to, in my opinion, the accustomed nature of the black stereotype. The idea that the past cannot remain in the past. It is accepted for blacks to play the “victim” role and to point fingers for issues that were resolved years ago.

In our society today, it’s okay for blacks to have exclusive scholarships, holidays and organizations. But if the white race were to accustom even one of these, it would be racist and discriminative. They would be known as advantages and privileges, not opportunities.

This isn't an argument on which sides should be taken. It isn't whites against blacks because, in the end, this is what statements like this are meant to end. They are meant to end the long-term feud and battle of the races. They are meant to end the different standards that black and white people are held to. Race shouldn't be what sets us apart. It shouldn't be what determines acceptance into an organization or being rewarded a very deserving scholarship.

The past is recognized. It is recognized that mistakes were made and things have changed, so the black race should realize that as well and stop repeating past mistakes they have fought so hard to overcome.

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