I read the book circa 1990. I had no troubles believing it could come true some day. There are a few too many people who believe they have a right to force their religion on you — or a least its principles. If the right social-political conditions appear, they will rise.
And they need only become a significant minority, say maybe 20%, to get their way. If the 20% can scare most of the the other 80% to keep their head down, the 20% can rule the roost. That is the lesson of the rise of Nazism.
The question you academics should be asking is why America has gotten to this position where a Handmaid’s Tale is not too far away. Could it be our system of governance? Should we look at alternatives?
But you guys won’t ask those questions, will you?