It Can’t Happen Here, Can It?

Certain though Doremus had been of Windrip’s election, the event was like the long-dreaded passing of a friend. “All right. Hell with this country, if it’s like that.”—Sinclair Lewis, It Can’t Happen Here

The title begs the question: what is the “It” that can’t happen here? The free, democratic election of a fascist (lowercase F, even though any difference in degree or style of fascism is truly no difference at all)? Or any movement to resist it after it takes power?

Sinclair Lewis gives one succinct answer at the end of the second chapter of his 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here: “The hell it can’t.” In the chapter, several of the leading lights of life in fictional Fort Beulah, Vermont, are conversing and considering the campaign promises of U.S. Senator Buzz Windrip, who is considering a run for the Democratic Party nomination against President Franklin Roosevelt.
Read More