by Mark Saporta, Counterfactual Correspondent
To widespread popular acclaim, beloved alternate history author I. T. T. Line released his third and most detailed work to date earlier this week. Titled Make America Great Again, the novel delves into a thorough examination of an alternate 2016 election in which businessman Donald J. Trump defeats Hillary Clinton and becomes the 45th President of the United States.
The real 2016 election was, of course, a subdued affair. After attaining a massive early financial lead, Jeb Bush steamrolled his primary opponents and was a lock for the Republican nomination by February. For her part, Hillary Clinton ran nearly unopposed for the Democratic nomination, easily winning every state. The general election was then relatively genteel and policy-focused, in contrast to the vicious elections of the last twenty years, and Clinton/Booker defeated Bush/Walker by a comfortable margin of four points.
In Make America Great Again, Line asks readers to consider a completely different and in some ways diametrically opposed reality. In his book, the Republican primary is thrown into chaos as Trump bombastically joins the fray in the summer of 2015. Starting from his announcement speech, he publicly shows no regard for consistent and feasible policy positions, the well-being of anyone who isn’t a white male, or even basic human decency itself. Nonetheless, he rises and rises in the polls, running roughshod over a slate of candidates from across the Republican spectrum and a party apparatus that can’t seem to muster a defense. In the meantime, Clinton finds herself in an unexpectedly difficult race against an unexpected opponent: 73-year-old democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.
The action only continues once both Clinton and Trump are officially nominated, with the former facing down a persistent scandal concerning proper handling of classified material and the latter lurching from massive gaffe to massive gaffe (without spoiling too much, it is worth mentioning that the words “grab them by the pussy” feature near the end of the book). Despite three clear debate victories, a far superior campaign, and the wholehearted support of the increasingly popular sitting president, Clinton’s early lead tightens to three points by November.
Finally, in the climax of the novel, Trump defies the expectations of pollsters, politicians, and the media alike by pulling off a small but solid Electoral College lead and nearly tying the popular vote. The book ends with his victory speech early on November 9th, deliberately leaving the reader uncertain about what’s next for this alternate America.
Naturally, this timeline is incredibly implausible; Line admits as much in the preface. Nevertheless, Make America Great Again is an excellent read for anyone looking for in-depth alternate history, a view into the dark depths of the American psyche, or even just a good political thriller.
Mark’s Review: 4.5/5 Highly Recommended