Recently I read the book The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth. The book is based in an alternate version of history where aviator/hero/accused Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh ran for President against FDR in 1940 and won. It is told through the eyes of a young Jewish boy and details the effects of the nation’s fascist turn on his family.
While reading this book, I was amazed at how much it mirrored what has happened in America since Trump’s victory on election day. I decided to write this post to point out some of the similarities.
If you are planning to read The Plot Against America, please be warned that there are spoilers ahead.
- During the campaign, Lindbergh barnstormed across the country, flying in his own plane and speaking to mobs of supporters at each stop. Trump flew (not piloted) his own plane to stops across the country, often speaking at rallies to mobs of supporters.
- FDR and his supporters didn’t regard Lindbergh as a serious candidate, underestimating his personal popularity, and the appeal of his single issue platform – keeping America out of WWII. Democrats didn’t take Trump any more seriously. They felt he couldn’t be taken as a serious threat to win the election.
- The reactions of Democrats as election night unfolded are virtually identical. In both cases, there was a sense of nightmarish unreality as it gradually became clear that Lindbergh/Trump would win. Lindbergh won in a landslide, with FDR only winning NY and Maryland. As everyone knows, Trump lost the popular vote while winning in electoral votes.
- Soon after election day, discrimination and violence break out. Against Jews in Roth’s alternate world, and against Muslims, gays, etc. in our real world.
- Now for the spoiler. In Roth’s book, Lindbergh abandon’s the presidency a few years into his first term. It is revealed that he was being controlled by Hitler and the Nazis, who had kidnapped and raised his son to be the perfect Aryan youth. Lindbergh’s vice president ascends to the Presidency but is soon arrested. A new election is held, and FDR is easily elected again. There parallel here is of course Donald Trump being elected (and possibly controlled) by Vladimir Putin and the Russians.
Those are the major parallels I came across. If you’ve read The Plot Against America and can think of any that I’ve left out, please comment below.