Nehemiah Scudder was a character in the Future History timeline Robert Heinlein used to unify his science fiction. He was a backwoods preacher who was elected president of the United States in 2012. As a dictator, he cancelled the elections of 2016, and the United States were no longer a free nation. It became a theocracy. Scudder was first introduced in the story “If This Goes On.”
Heinlein was an atheist, and a libertarian. He was also a secularist. His fiction warned about ways in which a nation could willingly surrender its liberties. While during the Cold War, we feared that the Soviets would either invade and enslave us or they would nuke us. The fear of the Soviets, or the Comcmunist Chinese, kept us in line as good Americans. But, Heinlein wanted to illustrate in his fiction, how easy it would be for us to vote away our freedom.
And he was right about that. The Soviets didn’t invade, their system crumbled and Russia was a democracy for a while. China decided that their aims were better achieved by trade than by war. The threats to our freedom changed, but not in the direction that was expected. The threats are internal, of course. The threats are theocratic. Heinlein was correct about that.
He was incorrect about how the Theocrats were going to gain control. They couldn’t do so by electing a straight up religious demagogue such as Scudder. They figured out that the best way was to get behind a man who was not known to be a Theocrat, but someone who would appeal to a larger electorate. A television superstar. A super wealthy businessman. Someone who would know how to cut costs and get things done!
The Theocrats got behind Donald Trump. Ted Cruz must have been baffled and flabbergasted to be losing in the race to such a lout, a crude man who won by hurling childish insults at his opponents and their spouses. He rambled in his speeches during the campaign, mouthing petty jealousies and talking about current events like he was our uncle at dinner time (the one who everyone just wanted to tell to shut the fuck up.) He was openly racist and encouraged violence. He pretended to get saved and the theocrats pretended to believe him, even when he was discovered on tape to have bragged about sexual assault.The goals of the Theocrats are simple. They are ready to make us all live as though we were believers, even if we are not. They are ready to make women move back into their “proper place,” barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen. They are ready to make homosexuality a mental illness again, subjecting anyone who is gay, lesbian or transgender to the hideous torture the call “conversion therapy.” They are ready to feed our taxes into the churches so we are supporting them. They are ready to make science mushy with creationism, destroying any value that it may have. They are ready to take away social programs that enable the losers in a capitalistic system to survive without having to beg on the streets. The Theocrats are ready to be thought police, too, using “political correctness” claims as a blunt tool to squash debate.
But, they couldn’t have done it with Cruz. That would have been too obvious. They needed Trump. Trump used them and they used him to get what each other wants. He is going to be in the Oval Office making deals, using the leverage he will have as the President of the United States. He will tweet and cause stocks owned by companies who criticize him to fall.
He won’t be the one to institute the transition to theocracy. That job will go to Mike Pence. Mike Pence is a serious theocrat, and will be in charge of “Domestic and Foreign Policy,” while Trump goes to make America Great.
They didn’t need a Nehemiah Scudder.