Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America chronicles the possibility of Charles Lindbergh, American hero and Nazi sympathizer, defeating Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 election, leading America into isolationism and violent Antisemitism. Most striking of all about this alternate reality is its similarities with today’s Trump America: “…when they turned on the news, they were devastated by the speed with which everything dreadful was happening.” (329) In the book’s postscript, Roth reprints Lindbergh’s speech against involvement in World War II on September 11, 1941:
The subterfuge and propaganda that exists in our country is obvious on every side. These war agitators comprise only a small minority of our people, but they control a tremendous influence. Against the determination of the American people…they have marshaled the power of the propaganda, their money, their patronage. The Jewish people’s greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.
Trump, identical to Lindbergh, refuses to address the hate and violence that stems from words like these.
And instead soldiers forth, blind and naked, leaving us to wonder where this reality, not as alternate as most would like, might lead.