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: