I have long thought that Donald Trump wanted to return to an alternative version of the 1990s—not the 1980s ( when Trump Inc built gaudy buildings and he became a loud-mouth celebrity of sorts); nor the 1950s—that vanilla era of seeming harmony and affluence, when Father knew Best, and Westerns dominated tv (and the issues of civil rights and women’s rights were simmering beneath the frothy surface).
The 1960s, of course, would not be the Don’s optimal back to the future decade. It was then that he avoided serving, obtaining 4 deferments, ultimately keeping him from going to Vietnam.
The turbulence of the 60s and 70s were not his bag. He began working for his father, and by 1971 took over the real estate firm and expanded it exponentially, for hundreds of businesses and partnerships.
But the 1990s….now there’s a decade to which he seems to want to return. He could Delete the Clintons, and restore an Alternative version, where he could Control the media (especially using 21st century Twitter). So far, he has sought to correct political correctness—that 90s term— by Alternatively spewing hateful, cruel, or at best, thoughtless phrases. The Contract with America will get an Alt-Right update with Trump. As long as he is in Control, (and Republicans Control both houses), the Alt-Right will Delete whatever it can.
The 90s… We were not deeply embroiled in wars and our economy was strong, and to most, felt strong. Law and Order reigned supreme. (Never mind the consequences over the last 3 decades.) The Militia movement became a thing. The President could get impeached for a sex scandal and remain in office. Microsoft was dominant. And of course, with the collapse of Communism, Russia could be our new friend.
Enter Trump. In the Trump universe of “truthful hyperbole” or Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts”, anything goes—especially facts. This administration is desperate to Control or provide “Alternative”, or just Delete facts that are unappealing.
The Women’s March on Saturday, an historic event in the USA and around the globe, was not only remarkable in its numbers, but in its inclusion, peace, and joy. Everywhere, participants seemed to share the same experience. Women organized a march (and satellite marches and rallies) that encouraged participation, expansion, opportunities, concern for one another, and responses to the insults and invective that Mr. Trump has hurled, especially at women. This was not merely “identity politics”, another throwback term. This was a statement of solidarity that we can do better—all of us— on a range of issues.
Communities everywhere were invigorated. Individuals were energized. The tone everywhere was positive and aspirational, in stark contrast to the “American Carnage” Inauguration speech delivered just the day before. But Trump and his spokespeople insisted on the new Control Alt Delete in response: Determined to assert Control by insisting on “Alternative Facts” and even deleting unappealing information.
Today, the Trump administration issued a gag order to the Environmental Protection Agency, instructing the EPA not to discuss a recent freeze on grant funding and forbidding the U.S. Dept of Agriculture from releasing “public-facing documents”. No tweeting, National Parks!
This Control Alt Delete strategy is Orwellian and feels utterly Anti-American, not retro. Trump proclaimed his Inauguration a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion”. His charge that day and his Control Alt Delete actions every other minute are the antithesis of the patriotic devotion that I experienced and witnessed on Saturday. And I have never felt more patriotic devotion than I did that day.
Diversity became pluralism. Liberty (not mentioned in the inaugural speech) was petitioned for all. Excellence in our institutions, not dismantling them, was being insisted upon. Community engagement and action opportunities were provided. And the truth was in the facts.
Control Alt Delete won’t make America great again. But a new movement is afoot that just might.