Monday, August 12, 2013

The Stuff of Fiction

I am less likely today to believe that American democracy is foolproof than I was before the turn of the century.  Strange circumstances have upset the balance of what should be a strong and balanced system of government.  Until we lived through it, I doubt we would have thought believable the "election" of George W. Bush in 2000 by the Supreme Court.  Without the swaggering and incompetent Bush administration, I believe the perpetrators of 9/11 would have been caught before the attack, and consequently, without 9/11, there would certainly have been no second term for this idiot president and his evil minions.

So when I read Christian Nation by Frederic C. Rich, I did not chuckle at the absurdities of its premise.  Like Philip Roth's The Plot Against America and Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here, this work of fiction sets up an alternative history in which just that strange bit of credible chance leads to the falling of our democracy.

What if John McCain had won in 2008 and then died in office?  In ordinary times we would not foresee a takeover by Christian fundamentalists.  Yet here we are, where during the Bush years promotion to federal positions were granted to graduates of Christian diploma mills and anti-science agendas were pursued with confidence, and some troubling successes.

And now, despite a more rational leader, we have seen states take on the fight to ban abortion, to form state militias, to legislate against science.  We have an immobilized Senate and a radical right-wing House; our Supreme Court majority boldly rewrites the Constitution to an agenda that they claim is conservative, but is actually so only when convenient.  And we have a gun lobby that is untouchable.

We attempt to resist through democratic means the tyranny of these radical forces, who fight tirelessly in the name of their Christian god.  But where we fight with rationality and restraint, our opponents are enflamed not by the light of logic but by the irrational fire of fear and greed and hate and fueled by the dollars of corporate wealth.

Could it happen here?  

It's a gripping book, and I urge you to read it.

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