By Robert A. Vella

In my dystopian science fiction novel The Martian Patriarch, I told the story of a villainous tyrant who conquered the world.  Janus Franz Krichek was an Austrian émigré who grew-up in Texas and embraced the sociopathic ideology of fascism.  The character was intellectually limited, but possessed a brutal obsession for power to serve his narcissistic desires.  Krichek’s classic megalomania both drove him to great heights and eventually caused his unpleasant downfall.  Ironically, Krichek’s fate was sealed when his closest supporters suddenly turned on him after a series of costly failures in moments of crisis.

That was a fictional character created nearly a quarter of a century ago.  At the time, I had no way of knowing how prescient it might be in real life;  and, I had no inkling that such a despot would rise to power in my lifetime – not in the United States, anyway.

But, it did happen almost exactly twenty years later when Donald Trump “won” the 2016 election.  The parallels between Krichek and Trump are uncanny.  Both were raised in immigrant families from central Europe.  The culture of both families were rooted in stern discipline, aggressive ambition, social hierarchy, and – yes – ethnic, racial, and religious bigotry.  My fictional character was not inspired from clairvoyance, nor was it purely coincidental.  Rather, it evolved from my long-studied understanding of history, politics, and sociology.  In 1996, when I conceived of Janus Krichek, the world economy was booming under the neoliberal leadership of western democracies (e.g. President Bill Clinton in the U.S. and Prime Minister John Major in the U.K.) and the emerging manufacturing juggernaut of China.  Boris Yeltsin was Russia’s first president after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tony Blair’s political fortunes were rising in Britain, and the supposedly ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin was just an obscure bureaucrat in St. Petersburg.

So, if the world was in pretty good shape back then, what did I see that could plunge it into the darkness of authoritarianism?  First, I realized that neoliberalism would produce economic and political inequalities which would eventually destabilize civil society and lead to ideological extremism.  Second, I recognized that this was already happening when congressional Republicans under Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich jumped into the abyss of right-wing fanaticism.  It triggered a chain of events – marked by the 9/11 attacks, the fraudulent Iraq War, and the Tea Party wave of 2010 – which have transpired at an increasing rate ever since.

On this Sunday in late August, 72 days ahead of the U.S. 2020 election, I ask readers to contemplate the portrait of a president seeking reelection as well as the upcoming day of reckoning for a nation now teetering on the edge of tyranny.

Here’s today’s news:

From:  House Passes Bill Bolstering Postal Service With $25 Billion

The Democratic-led House on Saturday passed legislation preventing U.S. Postal Service cutbacks at least through January and providing it with $25 billion in additional funding, reflecting Democrats’ concerns that delivery delays affecting basic mail service would spill over into an election being held during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a rare Saturday session held during August recess, the bill passed 257-150, with the support of 231 Democrats and 26 Republicans.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Saturday he would not bring up a separate Postal Service funding bill without a broader deal on coronavirus relief.


Many of the Republicans who voted for the bill on Saturday face competitive re-elections and want to show support for the Postal Service.

See also:

Fewer and fewer priority mail packages were delivered on time after DeJoy took over the USPS, internal documents reveal

‘They keep me alive’: Prescription drugs delayed by Postal Service put thousands at risk

Family says USPS lost veteran’s remains [blames Postmaster General Louis DeJoy]

From:  Election 2020: Trump is leading Republicans to an unwanted record in the popular vote

American elections tend to swing on a pendulum. No one party usually holds power for too long. Since 1952, for example, only once has a party won the presidency three elections in a row.

Yet, partially through a little bit of bad luck and two electoral college-popular vote splits, the Republican Party looks like it could be on the way to an unpleasant distinction.

If President Donald Trump, in fact, loses the popular vote in 2020, it will be the first time since the founding of the Democratic Party in 1828 that either the Democratic or Republican Party has lost the popular vote this many times in a span of eight elections.

Obviously, we don’t know what the November result will be. There’s still a little over two months to go and things can change.

That said, pretty much none of the nonpartisan analysts I know expect Trump to win the popular vote. Today, former Vice President Joe Biden leads the national polls by somewhere around 8 to 10 points nationally. A high number of Trump’s paths to a second term revolve around him pulling off a win in the electoral college, while losing the popular vote, just as he did in 2016.

A loss by Trump this year would mean the Republicans have lost the popular vote 7 out of the last 8 elections since 1992.


Pelosi hammers Trump for ‘very dangerous’ attack on FDA

Without Evidence, Trump Blasts FDA “Deep State” for Slowing Coronavirus Vaccine

Acting Homeland Security chief [Chad Wolf contradicts Trump] says department does not have authority to send agents to polling locations

Why Trump and Pompeo’s foreign policy [failures] is all about causing pain [op-ed written by US intelligence community veteran Paul R. Pillar]

[Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller’s] ‘White supremacy’ was behind child separations — and Trump officials went along, critics say

Trump admin’s adoption waiver ‘intentionally harms’ gays, report says

In secretly recorded audio, President Trump’s sister [Maryanne] says he has ‘no principles’ and ‘you can’t trust him’

Trump’s sister assailed him for ‘lying,’ ‘phoniness,’ ‘cruelty,’ and having ‘no principles,’ secretly recorded audio reveals

[Former White House communications director Anthony] Scaramucci says Trump will display ‘classic narcissism’ at Republican convention

Donald Trump is to speak on all 4 nights of the RNC, and his family will take up half of the keynote speaker spots

White House transforms from people’s house to campaign venue

The myth of the ‘Trump economy’

Tennessee voting rights law: Governor signs bill penalizing some protesters with felony and loss of voting rights

Kanye West: Wisconsin election commission votes to keep West off presidential ballot

Coronavirus update: Infections are trending upward in the Midwest

Confusion reigns as Canada turns away American students

At least 3 dozen states have reported coronavirus cases on college campuses

Hospital staff members say they can’t get coronavirus tests, are forced to reuse PPE

California wildfire now 2nd-largest ever as total blazes scorch nearly 1M acres

Marco and Laura both forecast to hit the US as hurricanes

Belarusian protesters pack capital, army issues warning

Over 20 news websites appear blocked in Belarus as opposition leader calls for more demonstrations

6 thoughts on “The Portrait of a President, and the Day of Reckoning for a Nation

  1. I enjoyed reading about the creation of your fictional character, Janus Franz Krichek. I read your novel some years ago. It’s a fascinating conception of humanity’s attempt to start anew as a colony on Mars, while still engaged in conflict with the hostile leadership on Earth. I enjoy reading science fiction like yours that succeeds in imagining a possible distant future based on current trends. That you could’ve imagined a future Trump-styled character with such accuracy can only be attributed to what you describe as your “long-studied understanding of history, politics, and sociology.” We are now, indeed, “a nation now teetering on the edge of tyranny.” Only we the people can save ourselves.

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  2. Pingback: The Portrait of a President, and the Day of Reckoning for a Nation | sdbast

  3. I agree that Newt Gingrich played a prominent role in taking the republican party to this sad point. He borrowed some of the right-wing extremist tactics and ‘pro-family’ rhetoric used so advantageously by the likes of Jesse Helms, a far too long serving republican senator from NC.

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