PAINTING FIT FOR A PRESIDENT
One of the most remarked-upon features of a recent wide-ranging interview Donald Trump gave to CBS News was the brief glimpse of this artwork, seen hanging on a White House wall.
The painting, called The Republican Club, depicts Trump and previous occupants of the Oval Office from the GOP.
conclude that American fascism, even if friendly, would be somehow related to overseas expansion.” On the contrary, today’s US imperial presidency has been adamantly moving towards isolationism, however impossible that prospect might be in reality.
Some observers of the present depressing ruins of American democracy may take hope in the fact that fascism requires overwhelming majority approval. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 heavily juxtaposes Trump with the advent of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Yet when Hitler was elected, his popularity levels, as far as can be calculated retrospectively by historians about a time before such polling took place, was It is part of a series by artist Andy Thomas, from Missouri, that reimagines historical figures in various contexts. As well as this gathering, Thomas has also painted the Republican presidents playing poker and pool.
Other works in the series depict former Democrat presidents drinking, and playing pool, with Barack Obama taking on Andrew Jackson, as others
at least double that of Trump, who hovers around 40% approval. As their sufferings during the Second World War increased, the German population’s affection for Hitler would decline. Yet it may never have been as low as
Americans felt about their new president from the very start of his administration.
Rather than trying to pinpoint elements of Gross’s book that apply to today’s US government, Moore might have more usefully looked to other American writings that make no pretence at factual prediction. The Nobel prizewinning American novelist Sinclair Lewis wrote It Can’t Happen Here (1935) about Berzelius ‘Buzz’ Windrip, a demagogue who runs for president, look on. Thomas himself says he is not a member of either party and his libertarian in outlook, although he has most often voted for the Republicans. He says the woman approaching the table in Trump’s painting – who is also shown in other works in the series – is intended as a symbol to indicate that the US will one day have a female president.
sputtering about patriotism and old-style American ways. Windrip is elected and opts for a totalitarian government bolstered by paramilitary support, akin to Hitler’s Schutzstaffel (SS). A journalist forms the main opposition to Windrip’s rule. Lewis’s fiction was reputedly drawn from the example of Huey Long, a corrupt Louisiana politician who was shot in 1935 while planning to run for the presidency. It covers more themes that echo with the Trumpian present than Bertram Gross’s factual study could.
Another novel which has been discussed as prescient in the current political climate of Washington, DC, is Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America (2004). In Roth’s imaginary tale, Charles Lindbergh, an anti-semitic isolationist, defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt in the presidential election of 1940. While mainly concerned with the effect upon American Jews of an anti-semitic regime that allies itself with European fascism, The Plot Against America joins other novels, from Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (1962) to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), that are seen as illuminating views of totalitarian or dystopian societies. These novelistic fantasies share with theoretical predictions by political scientists a lack of direct effect upon the American electorate or the regime in place.
While writers of fiction have no obligation to include optimistic messages
HARD TRUTH: A scene from Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9