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A Donald Trump Presidency Looks a Lot Like Dystopia


Since the candidate first began climbing in the polls more than a year ago, writers have imagined what his presidency might look like.

The Boston Globe

It started in August 2015, two months after Donald Trump officially launched his candidacy for President of the United States. Jon Lovett, who spent three years as a speechwriter in the Obama White House, wrote a ” dispatch from the future” for The Atlantic on what President Trump’s election might look like, detailing “the budget crisis, President Trump’s impeachment, Vice President Cruz’s inauguration, the second budget crisis. It’s all pretty straightforward. It was a painful and frightening time, to be sure.”

Since then, many more writers have been compelled to sketch out their visions of a Trump presidency, and while their scenarios have differed when it comes to specifics, all of them fit neatly into the category of dystopian fiction. From mass deportations to child soldiers fighting wars with Mexico to a nation whose only news source is the Trump Network, these speculative portraits of the future take the candidate’s documented policy proposals and consider what they might actually look like if enacted. That the results are so grim, so Orwellian even, seems to reinforce how unique this election is, and how far Trump’s language and pronouncements have deviated from the norm of politics in the U.S.

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Dystopian stories, Laura Miller wrote in The New Yorker in 2010, have one ultimate purpose: “to warn us about the dangers of some current trend.” Books like Brave New World and 1984, she explains, “detail the consequences of political authoritarianism and feckless hedonism. This is what happens if we don’t turn back now, they scold, and scolding makes sense when your readers have a shot at getting their hands on the wheel.”

In that sense, speculative fiction provides a framework for mapping out the future. And it resonates particularly in a moment when reality already seems to be pervaded with a sense of fear, with everything from police shootings to cyber warfare to climate change tainting hopes for the future. In April, The Boston Globe surprised its readers with a mock front page dated April 9, 2017, that laid out some potential news items from a Trump presidency. “Deportations to begin,” read the top story, followed by smaller headlines about Trump’s attack on libel laws, his trade war with China, his orders to kill the families of ISIS members, his appointment of Omarosa Manigault as education secretary, and his renaming of Yellowstone as Trump National Park. “This is Donald Trump’s America,” an editor’s note read in the bottom left corner. “What you read on this page is what might happen if the GOP front-runner can put his ideas into practice.”

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