By Ava Francis-Hall
Dystopian novels are a testament of their time, taking apart every current political, social, and environmental issue and transplanting them into a twisted future. Comic books like V for Vendetta, and novels like 1984, illustrate themes of authoritarian leadership, falsehoods as facts, and the spread of fear by the government. A version of this dystopian future has become our cold hard reality as Donald Trump continues his presidency.
Trump’s constant berating and controlling of the press echo the narrative in George Orwell’s novel 1984. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is commanded to believe whatever lie is put forward by his government, and to accept it as truth. One part of the motto of Smith’s government is “Ignorance is strength” a warped statement that has become an ideal for the Trump administration and his version of America. Trump has made many preposterous claims, from being wiretapped by former president Barack Obama to having the highest-attended inauguration to claiming his administration has no ties to Russia when clear connections have been discovered. A disregard for the truth has settled its roots into our American soil, just as it has in almost all dystopian narratives.
Trump continues to attempt to discredit the media and facts by banning major news outlets from his press briefings and calling the media the “enemy of the American people” as they use “alternative facts”. This is not only toxic to our democracy, but undermines the confidence in the accountability of politicians and people in power. If a lie becomes the truth, and the truth becomes a lie, can the people in power be trusted?
“It’s this illusion of complete obedience to an ideal that’s not really there,” said sophomore Jude Muriithi when speaking about a common theme in 1984. However, it sounds as if anyone could be saying that right now about Trump’s unfounded claims.
“He chooses beliefs, or ideas that aren’t what this country is about, and he doesn’t go after things that really need to be done in this country, and goes after bogus stuff,” said freshman Jordan Hovey.
Politicians and reporters alike have called some of Trump’s “bogus stuff” unconstitutional, useless, and even cruel.
Donald Trump makes sure the rich stay married to their money through tax cuts and the start of deregulation of Wall Street. Lower class Americans are at a disadvantage with Trump’s proposed merciless budget cuts to HUD and life saving programs such as Meals on Wheels.
The class divide grows even wider as the top stay at the top of the payroll and the poor become even poorer. Trump’s cabinet of “real, hardworking Americans just like you” rich white men prove just how much he cares about looking out for the middle and lower classes. As Hovey said, “His cabinet picks especially...I’m just going to say there’s not a lot of diversity in the people he picks.”
Trump is in friendly association with the perfect mold of a dystopian villain: Steve Bannon. Bannon, White House Chief Strategist and white nationalist extraordinaire, is leading the ship of the Trump administration, controlling Trump’s puppet strings to engineer nationalistic and hateful executive orders like the Muslim travel ban or the construction of the infamous “wall” along the US-Mexico border.
Truthfully, all of Trump’s picks in his administration, be it not-so EPA secretary Scott Pruitt or grizzly-hunter and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, are extremely under qualified and serve against the greater interests of the American people.
In the comic book “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore, society is run by a fascist ruler who uses his absolute control of the media and circulation of ideas to keep the people ignorant. The main protagonist and rebel leader V and his partner Evie lead a resistance against the ruler for his many violations of human rights.
Abortion, access to contraception, equal pay, and sexual assault are all women’s rights issues that have been put on the line since Trump was inaugurated. The future is uncertain for important services such as Planned Parenthood, which provides free contraception, STD testing, cancer screenings, and many other necessary services. However, a resistance has already formed.
A resistance; that’s what the American people can be in a democracy. The Women’s Marches and continual protests around the nation provide one unifying message for Trump: the American people can and will hold you accountable, they will resist, and they will be accepting of others.
“There's a lot of women's rights activists and things going on. There's a lot of marches, like the march the day after Trump was inaugurated,” said freshman Ashley Urrea. When speaking about the similarities between heroes in fiction and heroes in the real world, Urrea said,“He also is uniting a lot of people against him. The heroine usually has a huge team of people that unite people, and they all believe very truly about everything that they do.”
The characters and their journeys of the dystopian novel are filled with setbacks and victories. The ending of their journey could be written a million ways, but that is their fictional ending. What will be the ending for the true story of the American people? It remains unclear. Yet, we are not living on the shelves of a nonfiction section in a book store. We are real people, and this is real life.