It Can’t Happen Here

It Can’t Happen Here is a much-overlooked novel by Sinclair Lewis in which a totalitarian regime slowly but irrevocably takes over the United States in the 1930s. Lewis satirically documents the rise of a fascist leader whose coming to power is met with apathetic shrugs by a easily-wooed populace who believes that a dictatorship “can’t happen here”–not in so-called democratic America. The antagonist of Lewis’s novel, Senator Buzz Windrip, marshalls his forces by appealing to xenophobia, racist dogma, and nostalgia for America’s glorious military past. Windrip wins the presidential election and quickly establishes a totalitarian state, using his private militia to enforce his increasingly brutal regime.

I too had thought that Lewis was fairly off-base, that “it couldn’t happen here,” until recently. Surely America is still a democracy? Even after the Florida debacle of 2000 I kept my faith. Now, after seeing this latest headline–“U.S. Mulling How to Delay Nov. Vote in Case of Attack”–I am thinking Lewis was incredibly prescient. The Bush administration, in short, is taking legal steps to postpone the constitutionally-mandated November presidential elections. His excuse: just in case terrorists attack. But this is a really a power-grab, one more instance of the Bush network seeking to extend and prolong its power illegally and with no regard for the American values of free and public debate (which includes, Mr. President, free and fair and regularly scheduled elections in which the incumbent is finally held accountable to the American people).

1 thought on “It Can’t Happen Here”

  1. Hello, I am reading the book It Cant Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, & I am having a difficult time understanding it. I was wondering if you can provide chapter summaries for this book, or know of a web site that may provide them. Thank youso much for yor time!

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