I know. I drank the Koolaid as well. After the Democratic convention, our glorious display of America as it will be, I was convinced that Hillary Clinton would cakewalk to the White House. Hell, we were even forecasting a large majority in the Senate and perhaps even putting the House into play, so toxic was Donald Trump.
But real life doesn't play out like fervent fantasies
Here are the facts. Twenty-seven percent of this country will vote for Adolf Hitler because it thinks he just needed to be given more time. Another thirteen percent will go along because Mommy and Daddy voted that way. Then you have the mushy middle who don't know that the fuck is going on.
A good plurality of our nation is composed of morons to one degree or another. And no, I don't care if I hurt their precious snowflake feelings. There is a sharp divide from which to choose: progress, or disaster. It's not even a muddled choice. But a blend of various phobias means that a good chunk of this country will choose to cut off its nose to spite its face.
Yesterday's NBC/Marist poll was heartening. Hillary Clinton is back with a substantial lead nationally among likely voters, the sacred chimera of vote prognosticators. And recent state polling shows that the Blue Wall is holding firm. Mrs. Clinton leads Donald Trump by 9 points in New Hampshire, and by an equal amount in Pennsylvania, states without which Trump has no path to 270 electoral votes. Even Florida polling shows Mrs. Clinton with a lead.
But, the fact remains that this is a tough race, for the reasons adumbrated above. America is too full of idiots to ever rest easy.
What's the solution?
Well, one tack to take is that of Jason Brennan, blogger at Bleeding Heart Libertarian. His book "Against Democracy" is all that its title implies. The smart, well-informed people should have the franchise, and everyone else, well, shouldn't. His book is a bracing, if wrong-headed polemic. The eternal question in any system is "who watches the watchers"; I'm afraid Mr. Brennan's solution would remove all watchers from the watchers.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that the franchise should be limited. In fact, I'm suggesting the opposite: it should be expanded. Or, rather, it should be exercised by the millions who now let it go to waste in every election, from President to school board.
We've all seen the polling: super-majorities favor things like common sense gun laws. But where are they on Election Day? The same people pushing anti-progressive agendas keep getting elected and re-elected. The last midterm elections in 2014 had a turnout in the mid-30% range. Local elections are even worse—in Los Angeles, not even 20% of registered voters bother to turn out to elect the city's mayor. The problem isn't that too many people are voting; it's obvious that too few are.
Imagine if those super-majorities favoring progressive policies turned out en masse this year to vote their beliefs up and down the ticket. It wouldn't even be a contest. Mr. Trump would be humiliated, and President-elect Clinton would be looking forward to working with healthy majorities in both houses of Congress.
But those voters don't come out. Or at least, pollsters assume they won't. And for good reason: they haven't before.
We have a democratic deficit in this country, and it's one of our own making. Yes, we can blame the parlous state of our scandal-driven media—and reinstating the Fairness Doctrine would rectify much of that. But at some point, as a sovereign citizen in a republic, you have to take responsibility for your own action or inaction. You have to care enough about yourself, your family, and your neighbors to do the basic work of citizenship and become educated about the issues, and vote based on your opinion. Without that, the system devolves to what we have now.
This election isn't going to be easy, because people who tell pollsters that they support what seem to be progressive values don't bother to turn out and vote those values. We've reached a tipping point. Again, a minority of voters will have to save a majority of citizens. This can't continue if we want to have any decent sort of life as a commonwealth.