Does victory lie in an eleventh-hour strategy of nagging apathetic neighbors, relatives, Uber drivers and grocery-cart helpers-with; stress-eating entire Alps of Halloween candy, and ceaselessly toggling between taking heart in encouraging poll numbers and slapping oneself with the reminder of what a heinous howling horrendous mistake that was in 2016?
If so, I have wrought the blue wave all by myself.
If not, listen up children: Mommy is going to be someone to avoid tomorrow.
It’s literally sickening, how much is at stake in this election: not just control of the Congress and many powerful offices across the country, but, I'd give anything not to feel, the country itself. As of November 2016, it may have been (just about) possible to pretend, if you stood on one foot, squinted, and tilted your head just so, that Donald Trump would not govern as the crazy, bigoted ignoramus he ran as, or at least that responsible Republicans would check him if he tried. Today, no such delusions are possible. Long, long before today, in fact, it had become plain not only that Trump is precisely as he seemed, but that almost all of his party and a solid third of the nation wish only that there were more just like him.
Twelve hours from now, it will be much more clear than it is as I type whether America wants to stem this nativist, nihilist tide or ride it to God knows what end.
So very much hinges on the result, it seems crazy to focus on the things that don’t. But I’m going to focus on them anyway, because whether tomorrow finds people like me jumping for joy or curling ourselves into balls of woe, these things will be true, and they will matter.
Actually, maybe it’s more the things that have revealed themselves to be so absolutely untrue. In the past two years, so many political myths have been slain, they’re lying dead all over the place, like dragons after a run-in with St. George.
My top three:
Progressives aren’t patriots. For decades now – probably since Vietnam -- Republicans have depicted themselves as guardians of the American warrior, and Democrats as flag-burning traitors to the troops. This has always been absurd (see: Bob Kerrey, John Kerry, Jim Webb, Tammy Duckworth…) But with the help of meh Democratic messaging, the GOP had done a remarkable job of making it stick, to the point where their adored draft dodger draws lusty cheers for impugning the Americanism of kneeling football players, veterans or not. Back in March, it was nothing new when Pennsylvania special-election congressional candidate Rick Saccone blasted his Democratic opponent, Conor Lamb USMC, as someone who hated America. The twist was that Lamb trounced him. This was definitely the start of a trend; the question is, how large? Win or lose, though, Amy McGrath, Mikie Sherrill, M.J. Hegar, Jason Crow and so many more have served the nation yet again by destroying the notion of “liberalism” and “love of country” as a contradiction in terms.
Government is the work of Satan. It remains to be seen whether Republicans will succeed in pretending that they supported the super-popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act which they tried to gut. But Democrats should take pride in the pretending itself. This is truly a case of hypocrisy becoming a high form of flattery. Republicans realize that disaster lies in vowing to allow the private insurance market to do what it will with pre-existing conditions, let alone demonizing the idea that government has a role to play in such matters. That’s a major battle in the war of ideas, and no matter how their candidates do today, Democrats have won it.
Who cares about Harvard and Hollywood? Real people love Trump. Republicans have long used the existence of “limousine liberals” to deny the existence of liberals without limousines. Even Hillary Clinton’s decisive victory in the popular vote was disdained on the grounds that she had merely run up huge totals among the sushi hounds of New York and California, while losing the authentic, saturated-fat folk of the Rust Belt.
Today, it is anything but clear that America’s heartland belongs to Trump.
Look at the Senate, rightfully seen as the Democrats’ longest shot. As of 2016, Republicans were salivating over the possibility of taking Democratic-held Senate seats in Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Not anymore. Odds are looking at-least even that Democrats will hang on in West Virginia and Indiana.
Step back for a minute from the panting over whether Beto O’Rourke can pull off a stunning upset in Texas. Assuming he doesn’t, will anyone be able to deny that millions of Texans wanted him to? Missouri might or might not re-elect Claire McCaskill. But if she loses, it won’t be by much.
In fact, at high noon on election day, “flyover country” seems replete with places where Democrats were dead three years ago but now have real game. It’s not just that very un-Bannon candidates may rock out in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. It’s that they’re in close contention for two out of four Congressional seats and the governorship of Kansas; within three points of catching the Republican running for governor of Oklahoma.
Wait, wait, all that is based on polls, and after 2016 (slap!) I don’t believe any polling numbers, ever. But unless all the polls – and the fundraising, and the floods of volunteers, and what people in the streets are telling reporters, and the yard signs – are off by an absolute ton, left-of-center (or at least anti-Trump) Americans can be found in large numbers all over this country. And they are at least as “real” as anyone in a MAGA hat.
Whatever happens today, don't forget: that will be true tomorrow.