When I first began working on the first novel in the Perceval series, Ronald Reagan was president and I thought he was the scariest person on earth. He wanted to shrink the federal government in many ways but not curtail the executive power of the President. It took a long time for me to create Evan Quinn’s future world, but it grew out of watching what was happening in the world in the 1980’s and how America responded to it. What was I seeing?
First of all, the supremacy of the military, especially in terms of the national budget and their influence on the civilian part of our government. This has not changed. If anything, it has increased.
Second, the rise of corporate power. At first, this didn’t bother me, but the more I was seeing how corporations focused their priorities, the more alarmed I was. Their power through lobbying in Washington, D. C. was growing also as politicians’ need for money to fund their re-election campaigns grew. This has not changed. Corporations are now global, “transnational,” and some banks are “too big to fail.” Money has become a weapon of power. Campaign finance reform has become a joke.
As the years passed through successive presidencies and Congresses with different majorities, these first two points really did not change. Several more were added, also. For example:
A media more focused on ratings or entertainment value rather than reporting real world news. This focus has only worsened over the years. Now, I have stopped watching some “news outlets” because they are doing such a poor job of reporting real world news (except disasters or terrorism to foment fear) and have begun using British and Canadian news outlets. Some friends are doing the same thing. It’s very interesting to get a more objective perspective on my country, especially the American government and politics.
There’s been a growing obsession with national security because of terrorism (the terrorists won a long time ago because of our fear which is what terrorism is all about), as well as with law enforcement in terms of cracking down on crime and cracking down on police misconduct. We stop supporting and protecting human rights at our peril as a society and country, but there have been violations of human rights in the name of security and fear of terrorism. Isn’t it only short steps away from allowing a police state to occur within America’s borders? We must continue, as individuals, to speak out against these developments.
We also now have a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who does not have a background in democratic leadership, i.e. in local or state government, and has not established that he is a staunch supporter of democracy and its processes. He is a businessman, accustomed to leading in an authoritarian way and having the final say. Listening to his demagogic speeches is a scary experience not only because of his egocentric view of the world, but also because of his threatening nationalist words, racist words, sexist attitudes, lack of knowledge or experience in diplomacy, and his violent words. When I was working back in the 1980’s on the novel, I envisioned just such a candidate winning a presidential election because he pandered to fears of terrorism, of “invasion” from the south, of economic failure. He closed both our northern and southern borders, increased the powers of law enforcement on local, state, and national levels, and with the help of those in Congress who agreed with him, managed to re-structure the American government to suit is authoritarian needs.
I think it would be a good idea for all of us to remind ourselves of the characteristics of fascism (Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism from Rense.com) and realize that we are already living some of them today. I think it’s also important to research the presidential candidates and their experience and knowledge of democratic leadership. It’s a good idea to seek out alternate news sources, trusted sources, especially outside the country, that can provide a more objective view to help us to take a step back, or out of, what is happening in order to give it a hard examination with calm minds, not fearful minds.
In the Perceval series, because of the presidential election of 2016, America ends up an authoritarian dictatorship that pays lip service to such democratic institutions as the Supreme Court, the Congress, elections, and the Constitution with its essential Bill of Rights. Of course, the government in 2048 has perverted the rule of law to suit its own needs and Americans live in a police state. America has split into regional factions, and a civil war is in progress. Corporate America controls much of the government in Washington. The rich are now overtly in control of American life, and the other 98% work for them just to survive. As a result, America looks very much as the USSR did in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It pains me deeply that we are quite possibly at the same political crossroads in 2016 I had imagined years ago. At least I’m not the only one noticing what’s happening. And I sincerely hope I’m wrong about the result.
For more reading about Donald Trump and the 2016 presidential campaign, I suggest the following links:
- The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump in The New Yorker
- The Mind of Donald Trump in The Atlantic
- Tick, Tick, Tick…the Augustus Countdown Continues from The Weekly Sift
I find The Weekly Sift especially helpful in finding a more objective view of what’s happening this year in America.