After an apparent false-flag operation, the Party recruits a million American men to fight in the war on the border…
It’s easy to see why, in the 1930s, Americans would have said “it can’t happen here.”
In other words, he's a populist.
Windrip likes to tell people the story of how a teacher once called him “the thickest-headed dunce in school.”
He dislikes “haughty megapolises” such as New York and Washington D.C., and to assure that the intelligentsia doesn’t get out of hand he even re-writes college curricula to be “entirely practical and modern, free of all snobbish tradition.”
Very significantly, Windrip’s platform demands the absolute freedom of religious worship, and a maximum wage.
Furthermore, all African-Americans are to be taxed 100% of all income in excess of 10,000 dollars per family, a year. Here, we see that a fascist philosophy believes it is appropriate to limit the right to vote to certain groups of people, so as to hold on to power.
In other words, you have to be a Christian to enjoy absolute religious freedom in Windrip’s America.
If one wonders why Windrip’s agenda specifically targets women, blacks, and non-Christians, it is because, in Sinclair Lewis’s words, “every man is a king so long as he has someone to look down on.”
The Minute Men wear white uniforms and their ubiquitous symbol is a five-pointed star, like the one on the American flag. Obviously, there's a corollary for the use of this symbol in history, vis-a-vis the Swastika.
Instead, FDR starts a new party, the “Jeffersonian” Party, which represents “integrity and reason.”
Once you understand that resentment and other emotions are key to fascism, it is clear that the logic, and even the former positions of the dictator are largely unimportant. He is a strong-man, one whose rage, not reason, is responsible for his popularity.
Coughlin was a fierce anti-communist, a position which led him to come perilously close to advocating for the policies of Hitler or Mussolini at some points. Coughlin was also apparently, anti-Jew, a quality reflected in his comment: “When we get through with the Jews in America, they'll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing.”
His platform called “Share the Wealth” featured elements of Windrip’s “maximum wage” plank.
In the first case, there is denial among the regular folk (hence the title…). Nobody takes the threat of the fascist candidate seriously until it is too late to stop his ascent.
One of the reasons that It Can’t Happen Here is so abundantly worth reading today is that the issues it addresses have not disappeared. In fact, the book is scarily prophetic.
It Can’t Happen Here is a cautionary tale about what a lack of vigilance could bring to America if the so-called "poorly educated" get very angry, and tempers run irrationally hot; if experience and wisdom are no longer valued by voters and a strong man -- an authoritarian -- is sought.
For eighty years, Lewis's story has remained a cautionary tale, a fantasy, a sign-post of danger ahead, closer than we think it is.