Could a Sarah Palin presidency spark a faith-based civil war in America? You betcha, according to Rich’s debut novel.
The book is narrated by Greg, who, in 2029, is recalling the country’s grim fate after John McCain bested Barack Obama in the 2008 election. When McCain dies shortly after taking office, Palin becomes the willing puppet of Christian dominionists—religious zealots who insist on making the United States a Christian nation, home-schooling their children into soldiers for Christ. Dominionism is real, as Greg’s college friend Sanjay explains; certain that Palin’s God-themed rhetoric will undo individual rights, Sanjay starts a nonprofit called Theocracy Watch and ultimately hires Greg, a lawyer, to help fight right-wing efforts. Rich is a lawyer himself, and his book is as much a law-driven polemic as it is a work of fiction, but its tone is fairly cool considering. Though Rich describes President Sarah Palin as badly out of her depth, he takes her ascension to power seriously; it opens the door for her successor, Steve Jordan, to implement as the law of the land a 50-article “Blessing” that bans homosexuality, abortion and labor unions, restricts nonevangelical worship and seats only Christian federal judges. Michael Bloomberg (as New York’s governor) leads a blue-state resistance, but it’s all for naught: By 2018, Federal bombs are dropping on the Castro, and dissidents are herded into re-education camps. If Rich’s determination to equate evangelical political power with the Nazis seems overstated, he shrewdly shows how a few legal measures, a bad recession and a terrorist attack can unravel the liberties many take for granted. In that regard, it’s an inheritor to Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here, which imagined America under totalitarianism, though Palin is as likely to claim federal power now as Huey Long was then.
Dystopian, wonkish fun for the Maddow set.