National Commentary

These Best & Worst of Times

nfbenton-mug“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

Attesting to the former, it takes some reflection, perhaps, to appreciate the significance of the presumptive nomination of a woman as the presidential candidate of a major U.S. political party.

In the heat of the political fight this year, with many of the more progressive voices competing against her, Hillary Clinton’s success in locking up the Democratic Party nomination this week has been under-appreciated.

Attesting to the latter, the remarkable rise of a White Male Chauvinist Pig as now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party marks these times as rivaling “age of foolishness” that the descent of the French Revolution into anarchist Jacobin madness became.

Now, the joy of the nomination of a woman to compete to become the next Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation in the world has been tainted by all the ugliness that too much of politics have become, but still that makes the victory that much sweeter. Clinton has not coasted as on a pile of soft princess pillows to her current position. She is bruised, soiled and battle tested, still standing, prevailing and proud.

Doing what she has done through her career has left her open for criticism, both legitimate and as the spears of misogynist haters, but the notion is that, should she get elected, the best is yet ahead. Nobody knew what to expect from President Obama when he was first elected, and he’s become one of the strongest presidents in U.S. history, all the more for being so stubbornly blocked by the Republican Congress in every way possible. Obama’s influence, and that of Senator Sanders’ candidacy, have made Clinton’s party and the possible, both, even better.

Now, for Clinton, the question is not the past but the future. Those among feminists, like myself, who’ve always held that the world on balance will be a better place where women, and not men, are in charge, are charged with reasonable hope.

But light is rivaled everywhere in this universe of ours by a commensurate anti-light, or so it seems. The better one does, the stiffer the attacks. The more the powers of reason, intelligent lives, proliferate in the cosmos, the more black holes advance threatening to gobble them up. We often see in the infinitely small the great wars being fought out at magnitudes and distances that so far elude our imaginations.

So we have Trump, rising like the giant inflated plastic porker who emerged at the end of Pink Floyd concerts, grunting, snorting and defecating, angrily pointing fingers.

My guess is that so much about Trump’s dealings in the past is being held back by his rivals so far, until he’s been locked in as the GOP nominee, only to be rolled out during the general election process in the fall. I’ll be interested to see, for example, what impact Harry Hurt’s 1993 book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, will have.

But it would be very wrong to assume anything. The fact that Trump has gotten this far toward the White House is very unsettling indeed. If there is anything we need to learn about politics, it’s to never underestimate anything.

I for one am far more concerned about Trump’s chances of winning in November even as improbable as that may seem. He’s been alienating everyone but people just like himself. But that could change as the powers-that-be in the land decide to subject him to the kind of make-over that would be needed to capture the White House.

Cleaned up to look and posture like a Mitt Romney, but with the bravado, volume and political unpredictability of King Kong, Trump could surprise.

One curious reminder about this universe of ours: it is open-ended and billions of stars and their planets can be incinerated in a black hole, but it just goes on.

I personally believe it bends toward justice and the good, but who knows how long that may take? This is our moment, however, to be big-hearted, fair-minded and to make good happen now.