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View Full Version : 2012 US Presidential Election According to Robert Heinlein


Qin Shi Huangdi
04-19-2011, 11:27 PM
Back in 1940, one of America's most famous sci-fi authors Robert Heinlein was already writing about the 2012 election and:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_This_Goes_On%E2%80%94

The story is set in a future theocratic American society, ruled by the latest in a series of “Prophets.” The First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012), then dictator (no elections were held in 2016 or later).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_History

Three more unwritten stories fill in the history from just before "Logic of Empire" in the early 21st century through the beginning of "If This Goes On—". "The Sound Of His Wings" covers Nehemiah Scudder's early life as a television evangelist through his rise to power as the First Prophet. "Eclipse" describes independence movements on Mars and Venus. "The Stone Pillow" details the rise of the resistance movement from the early days of the theocracy through the beginning of "If This Goes On—".

These stories were key points in the Future History, so Heinlein gave a rough description of Nehemiah Scudder which made his reign easy to visualize—a combination of John Calvin, Girolamo Savonarola, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, and Huey Long. His rise to power began when one of his flock, the widow of a wealthy man who would have disapproved of Scudder, died and left him enough money to establish a television station. He then teamed up with an ex-Senator and hired a major advertising agency. He was soon famous even off-world—many bonded laborers on Venus saw him as a messianic figure. He had muscle as well—a recreation of the Ku Klux Klan in everything but name. "Blood at the polls and blood in the streets, but Scudder won the election. The next election was never held". Though this period was integral to the human diaspora that would follow several hundred years later, Heinlein stated that he was never able to write them because they featured Scudder prominently; he "dislike(d) him too thoroughly".

Nehemiah Scudder already appears in Heinlein's earliest novel "For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs" (written 1938-1939, though only published in 2003). Scudder's early career as depicted in that book is virtually identical with the above - but with the crucial difference that in the earlier version Scudder is stopped at the last moment by the counter-mobilisation of Libertarians, and despite mass voter intimidation carries only Tennessee and Alabama. In fact, the Libertarian regime seen in full bloom in that book's 2086 came into being in direct reaction to Scudder's attempt to impose Puritanical mores on the entire American society.

Interesting, but ironically 2012 is a few years after the eclipse of the Evangelical Christianity's political influence. Mike Huckabee, BTW, is a complete opposite in personality to Mr. Scudder and about as similar as Friedrich Ebert and Vladimir Lenin were.

Elendil's Heir
04-20-2011, 10:22 AM
That does it. I'm not voting for Scudder no matter how many goons he sends around!

Tom Scud
04-20-2011, 10:23 AM
That does it. I'm not voting for Scudder no matter how many goons he sends around!

:(

Elendil's Heir
04-20-2011, 10:28 AM
:(

Sorry. I feel quite strongly about it.

Tom Scud
04-20-2011, 10:52 AM
Sorry. I feel quite strongly about it.

Right. I'll cancel the goons then.

Bryan Ekers
04-20-2011, 03:30 PM
Well, I'm just glad that Eugenics War didn't happen.

Simplicio
04-20-2011, 03:39 PM
I think a day or two ago was Judgment Day from (one iteration of) the Terminator Movies. Kinda weird bumping into all these dates that once seemed remote. Living in yesterdays future.

Of course, most of these imagined futures were kinda grim, so I guess we're doing better then expected.

Marley23
04-21-2011, 06:56 AM
It doesn't look like this is going to turn into a political discussion, so I'm moving it to Cafe Society from Elections.

CalMeacham
04-21-2011, 07:12 AM
In Expanded Universe, Heinlein's update of the Worlds of Robert Heinlein, he wrote that he expected either himself or American society to be gone by 2000. It turned out that he was the one gone, but he wasn't assuming that. By the logic of the later Heinlein, at least in print, there wouldn't be any 2012 election, anyway.


All of which is by way of saying that this isn't supposed to be prediction. Heinlein wrote about a future World President (not U.S. President, I note) whose wife took her cues from an astrologer. And in Methuselah's Children he had a U.S. President named "Ford", but these are fortuitous accidents (as i think Heinlein would agree), not predictions.

Tim R. Mortiss
04-21-2011, 10:20 AM
I think a day or two ago was Judgment Day from (one iteration of) the Terminator Movies. Kinda weird bumping into all these dates that once seemed remote. Living in yesterdays future.

Of course, most of these imagined futures were kinda grim, so I guess we're doing better then expected.

I well remember reaching 1984 and thinking, "Whew! Dodged that bullet!"

joebuck20
04-21-2011, 11:43 AM
But the crucial question remains, will we have hoverboards four years from now?

silenus
04-21-2011, 11:51 AM
If Romney gets the GOP nod, this could still happen. OTOH, if Kennedy couldn't deliver the country into the hands of the Vatican, I doubt Mitt could swing it for Salt Lake City.


The only Scudder (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Scudder) I support makes potato chips.

Great Antibob
04-21-2011, 12:15 PM
Scudder?

I better brush up on my Masonic handshake.

DrFidelius
04-21-2011, 12:51 PM
Damn. Now I want a Scudder '12 computer wallpaper for work and a bumper sticker.

Bryan Ekers
04-21-2011, 01:13 PM
2010 was the year I got contacts.







(just kidding, I got the laser treatment in the mid-nineties)

silenus
04-21-2011, 01:57 PM
Damn. Now I want a Scudder '12 computer wallpaper for work and a bumper sticker.

I really need to zip over to Cafe Press and design a Scudder '12 bumper sticker. I wonder how many people would get it?

Tim R. Mortiss
04-21-2011, 02:23 PM
I really need to zip over to Cafe Press and design a Scudder '12 bumper sticker. I wonder how many people would get it?

I read the story years ago, but would not have recognized the name out of context.

However, I would probably "get it" in the sense of buy a bumper sticker! If you set it up, please post a link......

BrotherCadfael
04-21-2011, 02:37 PM
In Expanded Universe, Heinlein's update of the Worlds of Robert Heinlein, he wrote that he expected either himself or American society to be gone by 2000. It turned out that he was the one gone, but he wasn't assuming that. By the logic of the later Heinlein, at least in print, there wouldn't be any 2012 election, anyway. If I recall correctly, Scudder was elected in 2012, and there was no 2016 election.

The Howard Families meeting of 2012 (where, presumably, they were discussing how to deal with the Scudder presidency) was reportedly quite contentious. Mind you, the reporter was not necessarily reliable.

Elendil's Heir
04-21-2011, 03:32 PM
I really need to zip over to Cafe Press and design a Scudder '12 bumper sticker. I wonder how many people would get it?

Be sure to post a link here!

BMalion
04-21-2011, 03:45 PM
And doesn't it seem like forever since 1997? When the Jupiter 2 launched?

Lumpy
04-21-2011, 08:20 PM
I may be mistaken, but I thought the backstory re. Scudder and the advertising agency was the other way around. That marketing had advanced to the point that a presidential candidate could be sold to the public by calculated propaganda strategy, excepting only an "x" factor of charisma that could be quantified but not duplicated. So Scudder was picked as the perfect candidate to front the campaign, only he became a Frankenstein's Monster who got out of his handlers' control.

Ranchoth
04-22-2011, 05:19 AM
And doesn't it seem like forever since 1997? When the Jupiter 2 launched?

And about a hundred since the wreck of the Titan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futility,_or_the_Wreck_of_the_Titan). Well, give or take a year or thirteen.

Wendell Wagner
04-22-2011, 07:19 AM
Like most good science fiction, the Future History series offered a lot of interesting possibilities and told some good stories, but as a serious prediction of the future it stinks:

http://templetongate.tripod.com/rahfuture.htm

Going through a science fiction series to find some place where they made some clearly right or wrong prediction is missing the point of science fiction. It's not about having a guidebook that will tell you the future. It's about knowing the many possible futures and being able to decide for yourself at any point, given what has happened up to then, what you'd like to have happen next.

Marley23
04-22-2011, 09:34 AM
If Romney gets the GOP nod, this could still happen. OTOH, if Kennedy couldn't deliver the country into the hands of the Vatican, I doubt Mitt could swing it for Salt Lake City.
And thus the concepts of "Mitt Romney" and "swing" appeared together in a sentence for the first and only time.

silenus
04-22-2011, 06:54 PM
Rough design (http://www.cafepress.com/cp/customize/product2.aspx?clear=true&number=527691132&pid=2529374&source=email&cmp=EMC_NewDesignAccess&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cafepress&tm_content=NewDesignAccess&utm_campaign=Lifecycle_Make) after three beers. Needs work. A flag or something.

iamthewalrus(:3=
04-22-2011, 07:07 PM
All of which is by way of saying that this isn't supposed to be prediction. Heinlein wrote about a future World President (not U.S. President, I note) whose wife took her cues from an astrologer. And in Methuselah's Children he had a U.S. President named "Ford", but these are fortuitous accidents (as i think Heinlein would agree), not predictions.My favorite Heinlein coincidence is John Sperling's plan to donate his fortune to longevity research (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.02/immortal.html). No word on whether he has a daughter named Mary.

Jonathan Chance
04-22-2011, 08:02 PM
Rough design (http://www.cafepress.com/cp/customize/product2.aspx?clear=true&number=527691132&pid=2529374&source=email&cmp=EMC_NewDesignAccess&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cafepress&tm_content=NewDesignAccess&utm_campaign=Lifecycle_Make) after three beers. Needs work. A flag or something.

Keep working on it. I'll buy one.

EvilTOJ
04-24-2011, 03:27 AM
Somebody already made one (http://www.cafepress.com/+nehemiah_scudder_for_president,16449167).

Smeghead
04-24-2011, 07:38 AM
I see no reason to take seriously Mr. Heinlein's predictions of what happens in 2012. Unless, of course, he was Mayan.

ankh
07-15-2011, 11:35 AM
> Mayan

Texan? https://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/rick-perrys-army-of-god

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