Lifestyle

Steve Erickson on America’s Broken Promise

Until listening to this, I was not aware of Steve Erickson. I’m certainly aware of him now.

As Alec Baldwin introduces this episode of Here’s the Thing, he mentions that he keeps a folder of writings that have changed his life in some way. I do the same with works I find on the internet with my Flipboard magazines. Baldwin’s folder holds works like Eisenhower’s farewell address and “Vascillation,” a poem by W.B. Yeats. He also includes a 1995 essay from The Los Angeles Times by Steve Erickson called “American Weimar.”

In his prophetic piece, Erickson notes many conditions of America that, over 20 years later, have come true. Essentially, Erickson saw Trumpism coming. As he puts it in this conversation with Baldwin:

“Trump is not something that happened to America. America happened to America. And Trump is the result of that. Trumpism was something that was born out of claims – in the face of all evidence – that the first African American president was not a real American and not a real president.”

It’s an outstanding episode, and I got a lot out of it. (And since the multiple award winning writer and teacher also had such helpful things to say about writing, I listened to it twice.) Give it a listen:

3 Comments

  1. Christopher R Fortunato Reply

    Erickson is the thinker here, not Baldwin. I don’t even believe Baldwin has a file like he says that contains Ike’s farewell address. I don’t think he’s intellectually gifted for that, though he is far gifted in being an interlocutor for such an interviewee, not to mention Trump has provided him a pay day on SNL and elsewhere. But, Erickson cannot claim that Trump created all of this or is to blame for our country getting the way it is (assuming you believe that the country has gotten to a state of decline he claims.) Reading his 1995 article, he does not blame one person on the Left for the things they have done that could have created a decline in the Republic. For every Republican politician he mentions in that article, there is an equivalent Democratic politician pulling in the opposite direction. And that direction is not too satisfactory either.

  2. Leila Zogby Reply

    Thanks for this, George. The man has been paying attention.

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