Candidates and Trolls
I love the internet. I make use of it extensively in my vocation, engineering, and my avocation, writing. I have several blogs, a Facebook account with a page for my blog, Oldereyes, and a Twitter account (OK, I do absolutely nothing with that but it sounds good). I play games on the internet, communicate with faraway friends via email, and use it as my primary source of news. But I don’t love everything about the internet. I don’t like the way young people seem to substitute online experience for real life. I don’t like the way the click-driven culture causes material to be posted just to create controversy. The amount of inaccurate information on the internet … and the number of people who believe anything they read there … make me crazy. But what bothers me most is the emergence of Trolls, people who stalk the message boards and comment pages posting vitriolic, bigoted and crude commentary on just about anything. Much of it is political, over the top liberal-conservative name calling but some of it goes beyond the bounds of a civilized society. It didn’t worry me, though, because I tended to think of it as harmless … I regarded Trolls as pathetic recluses hiding in the anonymity of the internet. Now I’m worried. Why? Things like this:
I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There’s a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed punch back anymore. … I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.
We now have a presidential candidate who is behaving like a Troll. Worse, he seems to be bringing other Trolls out from behind their keyboards and iPhones and making them acceptable. As a conservative on many issues, I probably understand what is motivating the Troll bandwagon more than many. I have been frustrated with what I consider anti-business sentiment in the current administration. I am frustrated in wish-it-were-s0 diplomacy coupled with a weakening of our defenses. I, too, am tired of the threats of adolescent Korean dictators and Iranian mullahs being met with conciliation. But responding in kind … as Candidate Troll tends to do … makes us no better than them. Which we are, by the way. And as a moderate to liberal on social issues, it is clear to me that Candidate Troll regularly exploits the prejudices of the populace to get nominated. If it were just a ploy to swing votes, it wouldn’t scare me but as this reality-show campaign has gone on I’ve decided that what we are seeing is what we would get if Candidate Troll was elected … an angry, bigoted old white guy set on bringing his reality-show reality to the United States by whatever means possible. That is not a the United States I love.
I don’t know how much credence to put in the articles that are starting to pop up, likening Candidate Troll’s campaign to the rise of fascism in the past. I can certainly see parallels to the rise of fascism in Europe but at this point saying Candidate Troll is a Hitler or Mussolini is the sort of political theatrics I hate.** Still, he scares me. A while back, in a similar post, Really, America, I said if the election came down to Trump vs. Sanders, I wouldn’t vote. That is no longer true … I would swallow hard and vote for Sanders. I can perhaps dismiss Candidate Troll as an ugly aberration brought on by conservatives desperate for a champion … but a President Troll would be a disaster in so many ways. That’s what I think. Please think about it … read about it … talk about it. This is our country we’re talking about, not a reality show.
** Excellent reading pro and con:
- Con: I Know Fascists; Donald Trump Is No Fascist by Gianna Riotta in The Atlantic
- Pro: Trump’s Flirtation with Fascism by Dana Milbank in The Washington Post
- Pro … but he doesn’t know it, scariest of all: Is Trump a Fascist? by Jeffrey A. Tucker in Newsweek