I post reviews of every book I read here, but this post is about a novel I read fifteen years ago, Hope, by Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith, which, although I considered it a thriller bordering on fantasy when I read it in 2002, I now consider prophetic and highly relevant to events now playing out in the United States.
Alexander Hope, a wealthy businessman with no political experience, motivated by what he perceives as the inexorable decline of the U.S. into a land where individual liberty and initiative are smothered by an inexorably growing state, manages, defying all of the pundits and politicians, through a series of highly improbable events, to end up elected president of the U.S., riding a popular wave of enthusiasm he generates in large rallies where he tells crowds things they’ve never heard before from the lips of politicians of the Locust and Quisling branches of the unified party of the ruling class, or from their mellifluous mouthpieces in the mainstream media. Crowds find themselves saying, “Wait—that makes sense!”, and the day after the election finds America with a president unlike any in its history.
Hope arrives in Washington with no political allies: members of both purported parties see him as an interloper and potential destroyer of their comfortable and lucrative racket. The minions of the bureaucracy and the “Beltway bandits” who feed at the federal trough are in a state of abject panic: here is a president who understands that about 95% of what they’re being paid for is not among the enumerated powers of the federal government. Never before has there been such a threat to the welfare/warfare/surveillance/nanny/spy empire, and this “deep state” reacts and begins to draw its plans against this elected interloper.
President Hope owes nothing to anybody except the voters who elected him. He has no constituency in Congress, and is unbeholden to lobbyists and donors. The legacy media, joined at the hip to the slavers, is unanimously aligned against him and his agenda. Hope has no alternative but to push government by Executive Order to the limit, finding that his predecessors have created ample precedents he can now exploit to dismantle or at least obstruct the administrative state. He continues, as he did in the campaign, to go over the heads of the media and communicate directly to the electorate, unfiltered.
This is a dangerous course, and before long the deep state begins to respond with acts, both overt and covert, to deal with the imminent threat.
Does any of this sound familiar? As I noted, when I read this I thought it fantasy; now it seems like we’re living it. If you like political thrillers, you may enjoy what has now become almost a guide to current events. I shall certainly be re-reading it in the months to come. There are a few goofs regarding constitutional law, but I didn’t find them to seriously detract from the story.
Zelman, Aaron and L. Neil Smith. Hope. Rockville, MD: Phoenix Pick,  2008. ISBN 978-1-60450-293-0.