COULD “BIFF” TRUMP, WHO’S SO SIMILAR to Biff Tannen, have traveled back in time to gain the advantage he needed to win the 2016 election? After all, for what purpose did old Biff go back from 2015 to 1955 but for the almighty dollar?
Through time travel, characters in the Back to the Future trilogy are able to rewrite or restore the future depending on where they go and when they go there. So, for example, Marty ensures his parents fall in love in BTTF1, saves his future children from a life of crime in BTTF2, and prevents Doc’s murder in BTTF3.
And old Biff in BTTF2 transports the stolen Sports Almanac to his younger self in 1955 so he can use its knowledge to become rich and powerful. He could have looked deeper into himself and sought to figure out why he was a bully, chosen a completely new direction, and made a change to become a better person. He could have thought about his family or about the reasons he still lived with his grandmother, or could have gone back even further to fix his parents’ lives, like Marty did.
But no, the streak of selfishness was always there. Old Biff doesn’t try to change young Biff’s personality because he knows the leopard would not—could not—change his spots. Goodness goes against the grain for Biff who, like a wild animal, is driven by base instinct.
So he just handed himself the Sports Almanac, and with it, the golden ticket.
“Biff” Trump would likely take a trip in the DeLorean out of similar instincts: for vengeance, to settle an old score, for profit, maybe to switch one wife out for another, or to tip an election in his favor. We’ll never know, but he likely wouldn’t be curing cancer or donating money to charity.
Looking back over Trump’s campaign for the Republican candidacy—and later, the presidency—it’s still shocking how unconventional they were and how “Biff” Trump seemed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Did he have a DeLorean? Did he use it to tweak his performance and win after-the- fact? Perhaps you and I unknowingly lived through that time while “Biff” Trump went back in time over and over again, creating little time tangents until he finally got it right and managed to win the election against all odds.
Let’s return to the evening of August 6, 2015, the night when Fox News hosted the first Republican debate. There are 10 candidates on stage and news anchor Megyn Kelly, one of the moderators, poses this question to Trump:
KELLY: “Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account …”
TRUMP (interrupting): “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” [RESOUNDING AUDIENCE APPLAUSE/CHEERING]
But as the camera then pans over the debate audience, we see that it’s divided. Many people are smiling or laughing, even clapping. Others sit stone-faced and motionless.
Why did half the audience, including both men and women, respond so positively to Trump’s cruel taunt? Could Trump—using the DeLorean—have taken the opportunity to test different responses and found the one that worked the best? Or was it the sheer shock factor of the inappropriate insult that startled the audience into laughter? Whatever it was, “Biff” Trump never looked back and never pulled his punches—nor was he ever held accountable for what he said.
Of course, it’s also possible that someone else futzed around with the space-time continuum. Maybe Vladimir Putin, exasperated by Hillary Clinton, sent a small Russian interference team through time to manipulate the 2016 election.
Then again, it could simply be that the audience actually wanted a boxing match, preferring jabs, hooks, and knockout blows to a political debate. Let’s hope not. That would a harbinger for the end of intelligent debate, and political campaigns would be just part of primetime TV entertainment.
And what if we had the chance to borrow the DeLorean and go back in time ourselves? Where or when exactly would we go? As we learned from Doc Brown, time travel is tricky. You have to be v-e-r-y careful what you tinker with, or you could “create a time paradox … that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe.”
That means we can’t go too far back in time or choose a moment that involves too many people, for fear of doing something that wipes out the historical record. So we can’t kidnap Donald and we shouldn’t waste time on getting Stormy Daniels’ story out in the final few weeks: that might or might not change anything.
To stop Biff’s rise to power in BTTF2, Doc and Marty had to pinpoint the exact moment when Biff first got hold of Gray’s Sports Almanac. Then they hopped into the DeLorean, traveled back in time, and tweaked the past just enough to destroy the Sports Almanac. In doing so, they created a new time tangent, but one in which the future is better for everyone in Hill Valley—except Biff. We should try to do the same.
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