Love may trump hate, but it doesn’t trump stupidity, not in an era when 140 words smashed out in anger can refute a well organized cogent treatise on foreign policy, human rights, and the future of the country. And by “refute,” I mean of course, “sound like an idiot and do so with the craven anonymity of a frustrated yahoo.” Such is the Internet in 2016. Welcome, trolls—before the Internet you were called social misfits. You’ve come a long way.
Incidentally, I smashed those words out in anger. Felt good.
On Wednesday night we heard what history will chronicle as one of the remarkable presidential farewell addresses of all time, one with a vision of an America not unlike the vision the Founding Fathers held in the eighteenth century. Barack Obama channeled so many former presidents, that I lost count. Among them, I thought, was FDR whose “nothing to fear but fear itself” was echoed in Obama’s call to move forward, to reject the comfort of some nebulous past that never existed anyway, and to push ahead together into the unknown.
Tonight Hillary Clinton laid out her plans for a better and more noble America, one with a future as bright as we dare to make it. How unlike Donald Trump’s chaotic rant of last week imploring us to return to the “glory days” of an America gone by. Trump, who doesn’t read and thus has no grasp of culture or history, doesn’t realize that time doesn’t run backwards, and that waiting for such an event to occur is not only useless but repressive and fatal. (For God’s sake, read Fitzgerald, Mr. Trump. No, not Ella, though that would be a start.) So the old lamplighter will not be ambling down our streets with his torch anytime soon, nor will we be leaving notes for the milkman to leave an extra quart. These quaint reminiscences of our past are pleasant to consider and important to remember: they’re part of us, but not part of where we’re going.
Progress is scary. Let me give you a perfectly lame and embarrassingly stupid example. Recently my wife and I have been watching a lot of Internet television: Netflix, etc. We watch so few network shows that there is almost no need to pay for cable, but every time I think of calling Comcast and saying I quit, I get a little queasy. Fear of the unknown—what does one do without cable! Now expand that fear to people who envision their entire way of life being impeded by immigrants, gay marriage, equal rights, etc., and you can see why a demagogue like Trump strikes a chord with his promise to take us backwards.
But an hour or so ago, Hillary Clinton made it clear she wasn’t moving in that direction, and we didn’t have to either. She also did a more than creditable job in portraying Trump’s non-policies as the ignorant rantings of a spoiled child; and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one curious as to why his opponents during the primary season couldn’t do the same. Clinton showed a toughness tonight, one that Cruz and Rubio et al. could not muster, and it bodes well for her in the battles to come. And there will be battles: the trolls are already busy, distilling their anger and abuse into 140-word bites.
And so the 100-day skirmish begins. And if Hillary wins the election and proves that Americans are indeed willing to push forward bravely into the future, then on November 9, 2016, Comcast is toast.