By MITCH TRAPHAGEN
Happy Thanksgiving to the people of 2001! My name is Mitch and I’m writing to you from the future — 15 years in the future, to be precise. Yes, we are still here. No, terrorism hasn’t stopped us, nor destroyed us — but it does continue to be a problem, and we still haven’t figured out the cure for the insanity behind it.
Many things will change as you navigate the next 15 years; many things will not. First the bad news: We still don’t have flying cars in 2016.
The new World Trade Center is standing tall in New York City. It took longer to build than expected, but it’s done now and, at 1,776 symbolic feet, it is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Yeah, the place is a near fortress but it’s a relatively open one. We have learned from terrorism, but we haven’t succumbed to it.
Today, we all have cool flat-screen TVs — you can pick up a small one for less than a hundred bucks. Small ones in 2016, though, are the size of many of your large TVs. And, oh, you can’t give away those tube TVs anymore. In fact, they are difficult to even throw away. Tube TVs are so … well, 2001. Sorry.
And speaking of stuff you’ll throw away, the modem you have connected to your telephone line is destined for a gigantic trash heap of electronics somewhere in Asia. Few people dial up anymore. In fact, relatively few people have home telephones anymore, except for those phones that are connected to the web and thrown in on a fiber optic TV package. Oh, that’s right — you still refer to it as the World Wide Web. Back then the Associated Press Stylebook required that it be capitalized. No longer. It’s just the web. It holds much of the world’s knowledge, but we spend a lot of time arguing on Facebook and watching cat videos. Don’t worry, you’ll know about Facebook soon enough.
Politically, it has been an interesting time. We nearly crashed the world economy once (no, I’m not going to tell you when). Earlier this month we elected only the second president since your time. For the past eight years, a young guy named Barack Obama has led the free world. No, I’m not kidding. Lots of people liked him, lots of people didn’t (don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. Or maybe not), but his election made history as our first black president. Perhaps when I write again from 2031, 15 years hence, I’ll safely be able to let you know that, in the end, he served with dignity, as did your current president, despite what you’ll hear from some in the coming years. And oh yeah, Osama bin Laden no longer exists in our world. That, too, took longer than expected.
We’ve spent the past year enduring one of the odder presidential campaigns. Suffice to say that nothing in the past 15 years truly prepared us for it. But in the end, we elected someone as our next president; lots of people like him and lots of people don’t, but America marches on.
You know, I really shouldn’t say more about it — what with that changing history, time paradoxes and butterfly effects stuff and all, but I really can’t help myself. Hillary Clinton ran against Donald Trump for the White House. I know, right?
While, of course, you know Hillary Clinton — the former first lady and U.S. Senator from New York, it’s possible that not all of you know much about Donald Trump. Don’t worry, you will — at least for the most part. In a few years he’ll star in a successful reality television show that runs for 14 years.
So now we are awaiting the inauguration of President-Elect Trump (fortunately, in 2001, The Observer News was only just getting e-mail — we didn’t yet have a website — and thus it’s unlikely the future president-elect will see this — saving him from possibly falling over and having a seriously mind-bending moment.
Overall it was a pretty nasty campaign, and the news is filled with reports of people being afraid of what is to come. But the truth is that I am not among them. Eight years into your future, I will have the privilege of working, in a small way, for the federal government (my turn to fall over as I read this in your newsprint — I say “your newsprint” because I’m writing this on a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard. Yeah … I know, give it a few years). In my time in that role I realized that Washington, D.C. affects different people in different ways. It brings out the greed in some and the best in others. President-elect Trump is not a politician, and he’s on one hell of a steep learning curve now. I have faith that he’ll come to Washington to find himself into the role of the latter, although his company may make a few bucks with the former.
The weight of history is pronounced in Washington, D.C. You have recently witnessed some of it, with your entire Congress singing “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol Building after 9/11. On that note, unfortunately that whole unity thing … it didn’t really work out. We have not forgotten, however.
But back to the president-elect. My faith is that he’ll go to Washington, with Melania (yes, he’s still married to her!) and 10-year-old son in tow, and will feel that weight. I prefer to believe he will respond to it in ways that will surprise not only his detractors but also possibly himself. He’ll have to figure out how to navigate the shark-infested waters of Congress and fake news and Facebook (yeah — really, you’ll find out) and probably should work to avoid Twitter (whatever) at 3 a.m. and everything else but … I think he’ll try to do the right thing. I think he will try to inspire others in our nation’s Capitol to do the right things. And these days, if he does that, he’ll be who and what we need for our times … which, trust me, are still challenging despite the cool tech we have that you can’t yet imagine (just let me say … iPhone. Yes, Steve Jobs, you heard it here first).
But if he has any problems, at least he has Vice-President-elect Brittany Spears to turn to for help.
Nah! Just messing with you on that last one.
But speaking of which, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series this year! LOL (wait, do you use that yet?)! Just messing with you again — I mean it’s been a weird 15 years, but there are some things that will never change, right?
Happy Thanksgiving 2001. Don’t worry; you guys are going to be fine. Sorry about the whole flying car thing, though. Hopefully I’ll have better news on that from 2031.