Imagine that someone, back in 2010, had written a novel that told exactly the story of the Presidency of one Donald Chump. Imagine that it was set in the near future: 2015-2020. Imagine that this was the plot outline:
Three right-wing White Supremacist political operators finger a pampered rich boy, a pathologically narcissistic, would-be playboy, con-man charlatan businessman with racist views to run for president on a populist, nationalist message rooted in racism. It’s full of zany, only in America stuff: the guy agreeing to do this because he thinks he can get a lot of press that will build his brand and help him put up a tower in Moscow, the grab ’em by the ***** conversation, the all-out campaign by the Russians to put this guy in office, the comments about “rapists and murders” coming across the border, the rallies with thousands and thousands of crazies from Podunk, the bikers for Chump, the political hack who comes up with the idea of the border wall to get the fool to stay on topic in his campaign speeches, the “Lock ‘er up” chants, the narrowly won election, the horror and disbelief of the candidate himself and those closest to him about actually having won, the lie about the inauguration crowd, the placement in every high position in the government of someone with no experience intent on destroying the agency or department he or she leads, the affair with the porn star, the affair with the Playboy bunny, the Slovene wife who hates f**king Christmas, the laying on of hands by evangelical crazies in the Oval Office, the trashing of alliances, the private conversations about getting out of NATO, the Toddler English, the insane policy making about extraordinarily serious matters by tweet and 2:00 in the morning, the cheeseburger lunches for White House visitors, the initiative to buy Greenland from Denmark, the talk about sending astronauts to the sun and stealth planes being actually invisible, the cozying up with murderous dictators, the quid pro quo demand that an ally at war find dirt on a political opponent in exchange for military aid, the nepotism (and the insipid, pampered beasties benefiting from that–Princess Sparkle and Slender Man), the “good people on both sides,” the abandonment of allies to be slaughtered, the Lena Riefenstahl-style fascist Convention, the orange clown makeup, the circus of continual lying, the utter denial of a global pandemic, the circus of the pandemic press conferences being turned into the Me Me Me comedy hour, the campaign against wearing masks, the Bible upside down at the church photo-op, the comment about the Two Corinthians, the sneering at Evangelical hucksters behind their back to aides, the tear gassing of Moms in yellow shirts by unidentified brownshirts, the turning of a handful of white boys in Neo from the Matrix outfits into an imagined massive uprising of Antifa terrorists, the labeling of protestors against systemic racism as terrorists, the parade of toadies and sycophants, the absolute capitulation of an entire political party and the Russian intelligence blackmailing of Senators behind that, the comments about shining light into your orifices and injecting disinfectant, the White House and campaign superspreader events, the The First Lady in the I Don’t Care and Russian military outfits, the press conference at Four Seasons Landscaping held by the ghoulish and bizarre bat-villain attorney, the claims of a stolen election, the hair dye running down the bat-villain’s face as he describes how Hugo Chavez engineered the election theft, the attempt to get states to ignore their election results and appoint Chump electors.
This would have been one dark, disturbing, crazy, but wildly unrealistic farce of a novel, wouldn’t it? Absurdist comic book supervillain fiction.
And here’s the really crazy part: toward the end, 47 percent of the electorate say, Oh, yeah, he’s my guy!
If, back in 2010, I had had these ideas for a novel, I would have rejected them as just too unbelievable.