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.
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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.
Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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2019 Just Means That The 2020 Election Is Coming

I don't want things to be that way, people running for President make it that way.

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The 2020 election has begun with Senator Elizabeth Warren announcing that she has formed an exploratory committee to run for president.

Other likely candidates include Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Beto O'Rourke, Michael Bloomberg, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. And those are only the people eating at the adult's table, there are other Democrats that will probably throw their hats in the ring just for some publicity.

The last time a primary began to decide the opponent for an unpopular incumbent Republican president that had lost the popular vote in his first campaign was just 15 years ago, in 2004 when John Kerry became the nominee to challenge President George W. Bush.

Kerry may have lost the election, but he did have an easy primary. Kerry beat out his early challengers and went on to easily win almost all of the primary caucuses and elections.

I do not think that 2020 will be so easy and that is due in part to 2016. The 2016 primary may have eclipsed 2008 in terms of being one of the most consequential primaries in US history.

2016 showed the ideological split within the Democratic Party, with many New Democrats, socially liberal economically conservative centrists, holding most of the power within, while there's a strong grassroots force urging the party leftwards. Critics will claim Hillary Clinton lost because she was not left-wing enough. And Bernie Sanders's surprising success shows that anybody who wants to be the nominee has to appeal to the Sanders demographic.

This article is not really here to endorse any candidate, you can read my other articles to figure out who I'm voting for, it is however here to point out just how difficult it will be to win the nomination.

A candidate has to, according to the so-called experts: be left-leaning but also be a centrist, and be able to get minorities out to vote but also appeal to some Trump voters that they think they can win over by calling out the President's divisive tactics.

Trickle-down economics and massive deregulation always throws the economy into a recession, but the question now is when will that happen? If it happens during the 2020 election it's safe to say it's over for Trump, but if a Democrat has to challenge a Republican while the economy is doing great, it will be all the more difficult. The election will turn into a debate over so-called "social" issues (assuming Trump does not take us to war).

Issues that seem to be on most Americans' minds are healthcare and immigration. The healthcare debate will turn into a debate amongst Democrats over whether or not single-payer is possible and will likely be one of the most divisive issues of the primary. Immigration will be easy, every Democrat will go the safe route and boldly proclaim that putting children in cages and letting them die is not good. This will lead to Trump accusing them of being Antifa thugs.

The road to the White House is not meant to be easy. You need to fight hard to win the hearts of Americans, unless you are a Republican then you just need to win over rich Americans and let the electoral college do the rest of the work.

But seriously, we need to start the process of finding someone that will undo the years of horror unleashed by the Trump administration and also put the country in a new direction. Someone that will help the old and the young, and all workers. It's time for a leader that works for the American laborer, not the American entrepreneur, and above all, it is time for a new president.

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