Disquieting Convergences, Hopeful Divergences

2016 is a pivotal year in my 2011 novel, A Change in the Weather. That’s the year the United States elects a right-wing demagogue named Roland Strauch. He’s more like Ted Cruz than Donald Trump (Strauch is a Dominionist like Cruz), but Trump will do.

Here are a few other current events that parallel A Change in the Weather.

There’s a presidential candidate who champions the idea that humans should be implanted with RFID chips. In my novel, that idea becomes law.

Fred Wilkinson of Bloomberg frets that his child’s Muslim-sounding name will provoke prejudice.  Jessica Russell in ACITW worries that the name of her son, Zephyr, has a Muslim ring that will cause him trouble.

And the Arctic ice is shrinking faster than expected. This year may be its lowest coverage yet. In the novel, the Arctic gives way to open ocean in September 2018.

There’s some comfort that other plot points haven’t played out. The main one is that the US hasn’t sustained a 9/11-scale terrorist attack. We’ve had incidents in San Bernadino and Orlando that Trump has fear-mongered, but most people see those as acts of mentally unstable loners—which they were.

The Supreme Court’s finding for marriage equality is holding so far, and the backlash has been contained. But that 5-4 decision could be undone by a subsequent ruling or legislation. The wild card is some terrorist event that plays into Trump’s fearful narrative, giving him the Presidency and the Republicans a supermajority in the Senate.

We haven’t had another economic meltdown a la the Great Recession of 2008 nor an energy crisis—but in the book, those events are induced by the disappearance of the Arctic ice which, in turn, alters rainfall patterns and disrupts agriculture around the globe.

I’m cautiously optimistic that Trump is imploding, and that enough Republicans will defer their hopes to regain the Presidency to 2020, even if we do suffer some 9/11-style horror. I’m astonished that the so-called “leaders” of the Republican Party haven’t completely renounced him. The Republican Party is clearly in existential crisis. They don’t know what to do. The seeds of racial division, homophobia, religious bigotry, and contempt for government the party’s been sowing since Nixon’s “Southern strategy” and Reagan’s “welfare queens” have come to full, foul bloom in Donald Trump. Speaker of the House Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell know that if they repudiate Trump and his tribe, they can’t keep a large enough coalition together to compete with the Democrats. So I guess I’m not that astonished after all. More like sickened.

Do you have any doubt that Trump would provoke a constitutional crisis within the first year of his presidency? Like appointing his children to Cabinet-level posts without the consent of Congress? Or ordering the Army Corps of engineers to build his wall on the Mexican border? Or invoking martial law after the next shooting involving a Muslim? Or issuing an executive order to the TSA to stop inbound Muslims at the airport? He’d view his election as a personal mandate, and anyone who got in his way would be a traitor.

I hope the Republicans’ combative, hyper-oppositional, essentially Confederate ethos has exhausted itself, and that the political nightmare of A Change in the Weather won’t come to pass even if the Arctic ice does collapse and sends the atmosphere into fibrillation. Things will be chaotic enough without an agent of chaos in the White House.

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