In the novel Taft 2012 (Quirk), a man bearing the name, DNA, and girth of America’s 27th president is miraculously revived and gains a following in the upcoming election. Author Jason Heller toys with political satire but mostly drafts the former president into a different cause: perpetuating the myth of the Moderate Everyman.
We don’t learn much about the revived Taft’s policy positions, but what little we do find is incoherent: His one consistent crusade is for regulation of a cheap frozen meat manufacturer, whose products he and the book demonize. But when asked his position on marijuana, he says he sees no reason to regulate what individuals choose to put into their bodies. A character describes Taft’s appeal as being “conservative yet forward-thinking, pro-business, yet pro-regulation, principled yet open to compromise.” Heller paints the Taft movement as a win for moderation, but it’s telling that the only candidate who can plausibly appeal to everyone is one who stands for nothing. —Peter Suderman