Marty McFly, back to the future after meddling in the 50s, finds things at home the same yet weirdly different*. Quantum theorists propose multiple universes all going on at once, separated only by veils of probability. President-elect Donald Trump sits in the White House with President Obama having had an "excellent discussion". Had Marty driven the DeLorean back to to 1965, he might have heard Dylan singing, "Something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr Jones?"
Do you, Mr Jones? No man, no way you don't, is what they say. That is, of course, if you are a member of what they - those people who like to sort the world into black and white boxes - call the "liberal elite", out of touch with "ordinary people".
As if "ordinary" were some kind of badge of honour. As if all things "elite" were shameful. As if one cannot be "ordinary" and "elite" at the same time. As if we were not all elite performers at being own individual selves. As if extra-ordinary people must somehow be held in contempt.
Whatever, it is obvious, now, that the received wisdom of "the establishment" severely underestimated the breadth and depth of discontent of the dispossessed and disregarded. Or at any rate those who have been feeling that way. Of course it is easy to understand that if one feels, rightly or wrongly, that things cannot get any worse, then one is ready to choose any hope of change over the maintenance of what is seen as a static status quo.
Without, of course, taking some things into account:
- Actually, yes it could get worse. Tariffs on Chinese imports? No more cheap stuff for the poor. More jobs for Americans? What about, only if Americans will accept the low wages Trump will expect them to? Sum this up and the overall benefits to the "ordinary people" from modestly increased numbers of people in work, if achieved, might well be insufficient to offset, in "ordinary" people's minds, the disadvantage of prohibitively expensive clothes and household goods. That is not an unlikely scenario.
- That an alleged fraud (e.g. Trump "University") and tax dodger, a known liar, an unpleasant oaf of a man who insults and harasses women, mocks the disabled, and insults Mexicans and muslims, a loudmouth trigger-happy cowboy who shoots from the hip, might not actually be the most trustworthy of people.
- That a man born a millionnaire, neither a self-made man nor a blue-collar worker, has ever been able to put himself in the shoes of the "ordinary" unemployed steel worker from the Rust Belt, might be a little bit doubtful. That it is all an act and a lie might not be improbable.
- That a property tycoon might not be expected to possess the knowledge and skill sets necessary to govern the most powerful nation on the planet.
We'll just have to wait and see how it all turns out. Doc (liberal, elitist Doc!) didn't believe Marty that Ronald Reagan ("The actor?!?") was to become President. Arguably that didn't turn out too badly, and he was certainly popular. And happily, Donald rhymes with Ronald. Maybe, if we listen hard, we can hear a twisted, anti-matter version of Dylan singing still, to his Mr Jones, in this strange new version of the universe we now inhabit. See you in the future (God willing).
* See the 1985 film, Back to the Future.
I read that people have been protesting violently on the streets of America at Trump's election victory. I have great regard for many Americans - their ingenuity, intelligence, talent, guts and drive - but, Dear America, at the moment I am under the fleeting and I am sure false impression that you are a nation of raving lunatics. I think the election of Trump was an act of folly, but now I see the other lot have nothing to envy anybody in the matter of lunacy. It was an election won democratically. Your fellow Americans chose quite convincingly the person they wanted as President. And you, Americans, go and riot on the streets? What, exactly, is your problem? What, exactly, do you expect from your protestations? In fact, WTF?