My next choice really needs no introduction.
I’m a little ashamed to say I’ve never opened this book until now; one of those I-always-meant-to kind of things. So I’m getting around to it. And what a political climate in which to do it! I dipped my toe into the icy waters of glaciers melting over this debacle we call government, and as usual, came to a few terrifying conclusions.
The premise for this novel is an animal independence movement born from the overthrowing of their oppressive human masters. It takes place on a single farm, where the animals escape their yokes for liberty. It begins with these best of intentions.
To start, there is debate, agreement, democracy; all is well. The animals establish their self-governance with the sweet taste of freedom on their lips. All animals were equal. All humans were bad.
But it doesn’t take long for division to drop in on Animal Farm. We soon see the first separation take form when the pigs begin to assert their dominance. One pig, specifically, uses trickery and bullying to rise to the top of their newly established food chain. I don’t want to ruin the book for you, so I’ll omit any real names. We’ll just refer to this one as Trump.
Trump’s biggest advantage is knowledge and learning (Ha! I had to choke down a lot of bile to be able to type that.) First, the pigs seek to share their knowledge ($), but then they hoard it. Trump uses his knowledge ($) to gather others into his circle. He lures the malleable, and manipulates them to his cause. He surrounds himself with vicious dogs born from the same litter. These Koch brothers serve as his insulation and the insurance to his forced empire.
Trump quickly becomes the enemy of progress, at one point even rejecting plans for the expansion of Animal Farm with a golden shower. He adopts opinions worthy of elite membership status with the NRA. He creates an invisible enemy to unite the people under his umbrella of hate. He takes credit for the work of others. He blames. He changes his story. He flips. He lies.
“He announced from now on the Sunday-morning Meetings would come to an end. They were unnecessary, he said, and wasted time. In future all questions relating to the working of the farm would be settled by a special committee of pigs, presided over by himself. These would meet in private and afterwards communicate their decisions to the others. The animals would still assemble on Sunday mornings to salute the flag, sing Beasts of England, and receive their orders for the week; but there would be no more debates.”
The other animals have moments of clarity, where they try to recall the integrity of the birth of their government, but their memory falters. Enter now Trump’s lackey pig. We’ll call him Spicer. Or Conway. Whichever you prefer.
As Trump rails against the order of reason, Spicer-Conway emerges to clean up the mess. He serves to correct the recollections of the citizens of Animal Farm, often convincing them that their eyes have deceived them, they were mistaken, they misunderstood. He offers these alternative facts at every moment of question. He strategically devises. He gathers the sheep to bleat his slogans. At any signal of dissent, Trump reacts, Spicer-Conway soothes, the Koch dogs growl, and the crowd quiets.
All the while there is one who commands respect above all others. One who works hard, pays his dues, digs his horseshoes into the dirt to raise others to status. He gathers the people and he bears the weight. He is the uncelebrated spirit of freedom. He is the veteran, the working class, the DREAMer, the taxpayer. For this purpose, his name will be Patriot.
He is committed to the success of Animal Farm. He stands for its principle, supports its leadership and pays his part in sweat and blood, as Trump never lifts a trotter to do the same. Patriot does all this with the belief that in the end his beloved Animal Farm will reward his years of contribution and all will be returned to him in the green pasture of pension. Only when Patriot reaches this turning point, do we witness the ultimate betrayal and discover the depths of depravity where Trump makes his bed.
Suddenly, the unifying message of equality is amended.
Orwell’s warning rings true. The animals under the regime of a tyrant were disabled by one simple truth: they forgot. They abandoned their conviction for the convenience of the lie, and they adapted to the new normal.
The warning is written on the barn wall. Be careful, Americans. Soon the pig you elected will identify as the very enemy we fought to escape.
The message is clear and the message is this: