Fact or Fiction?
Roth’s novel is told from the standpoint of young Philip in his childhood who is confronted with the disastrous effects of a change in administration, the point at which the fiction comes in. The story begins with the landslide victory of Charles A. Lindbergh over FDR in the 1940 election. Lindbergh is an avowed friend of Hitler who has become America’s darling because of his aviation feats. He is strongly against joining the European war and strongly for dealing with the Jewish problem in America.
Young Philip’s very Jewish family living in a very Jewish neighborhood of Newark feels the impact of Lindy’s power again and again and it would seem that nothing good ever happens to them as they slowly succumb to external pressures and internal family conflict.
Only at the end when President Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis mysteriously disappear and FDR finally resumes the reins of government do we begin to feel optimistic for America. But by then a lot of people have suffered irreparable injury and the country is in need of serious repair.
So I tell myself that America was never in the clutches of fascism, that we bravely went to war on the side of right, that Jews, although the sometime targets of anti-Semitism, never faced the degree of hatred portrayed in this work of fiction. But instead FDR strongly led our country to our place of glory in the world.
Then I think about our current situation. I remember when Clinton left office how we had a surplus in the treasury. And I wonder just how very different things would be today if Al Gore had been given what he legitimately won.
I look at how we now have a national debt that future generations may never get rid of. I look at the fact that not Jews but Muslims and Arabs have become the objects of national hatred. I look at two major wars we have started and botched terribly. I look at just how far we have fallen from that pinnacle in the eyes of the rest of the world.
I beg to roll back time just 7 years to have another go at those things that have brought us to this miserable place. Maybe instead of “The Plot Against America” it’s really “The Plot Against the World” as crafted by the current administration. I beg for the fact to turn out to be fiction, but every day’s newspaper reinforces the reality that we must live with.