The Republican Party in Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt
Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt portrayed a man bent on following his political party; his actions seemingly followed that religiously, and today's version of the Republican Party is proof that we are not too far off from Lewis' version, despite the expanse of time. George Babbitt, the main character in Lewis' novel, viewed the world in the eyes of a businessman. He saw immigrants as a waste to society, business and the means to survive, and the ability to own the latest and greatest inventions as top priorities in his life. One must, in the 1920s and well as in today's world, set themselves in a political affiliation, generally one that describes the person and how he is. To Babbitt, the Republican Party held the most appeal, arguing that even the contents of his pockets "were of eternal importance, like baseball and the Republican Party" (Lewis 9).
Lewis' character obviously had an obsession for the things he took part in, and professed his beliefs whenever he could. The book is initially set before a presidential election, in which Babbitt requested a "good - sound - economical - business - administration" (Lewis 26). Such values are identical to the values of the Republicans in the 1920s was to "help business and industry [and] maintain a level of prosperity with as little inference as possible" (Rutland 173). Because of such views, people pressured Babbitt into believing anything related to business was good, including the Good Citizens League, a relative mind-control society. Lewis' mindset might have been to accuse the Republican Party, the party in control at the time he wrote the book, of being too isolated in their practices. The Republicans wanted to have nothing to do with the affairs of Europe, and instead wished to improve the affairs at home. Babbitt was just the icon of the Republican viewpoint.
Lewis probed into the Republican policies in order to write a character about them. Babbitt attempted a change, a way of rebelling against his "mechanical" lifestyle, which one could view as someone's break of the political system. It was too hard for him though, as his friends pressured him to join the Good Citizens' League and end this crazy rebellion. His downfall inevitably came over his wife's operation, and he began to preach, "the crimes of labor unions, the perils of immigration, and the delights of golf, morality, and bank accounts" (Lewis 368) more than ever. Lewis hinted through that statement that the Good Citizens' League was little more than a political club, or more specifically, an offshoot of the Republican Party itself. Once again, Babbitt reflects the party's actions and policies in what he speaks about, also saying a great deal about who was part of that party.
If the party was like that over seventy-five years ago, and many would consider such thoughts corrupt,...