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Amidst all the headlines, this one from Politico is seared into my head:

Democrats traumatized by 2016 are having pre-midterms nightmares

Election Day 2016 was one of those dates, like JFK’s assassination and the Challenger explosion, that I will remember as long as I live. Throughout the Fall of 2016, I’d been addicted to the polls, especially FiveThirtyEight, where Hillary maintained an admittedly slender but significant lead right up to the last moment. But all during September and October I’d had the most dreadful feeling that all was not well. In fact I was so filled with tsouris that on the day before the election I ended up in the hospital with a coronary artery condition. I’d thought it was stress—the shortness of breath, the dizziness—but the doc put me on a treadmill and from there it was straight to the operating room, where they planted two life-saving stents into my chest.

I’m convinced it was all that September-October worrying that clogged up my pipes. And that is the point of the Politico article: 2016 was indeed traumatic, and I doubt if there’s a Democrat in America today who’s not stressing the outcome of these 2018 midterms.

The polls once again look good for Dems, as you know, especially on the House side. I think most of us are resigned to the fact that we’re going to be stuck with that ugly (inside and outside) McConnell in the Senate for a while longer (what a nasty piece of work he is!). But most of us believe equally that the House is ours. So what accounts for this gnawing, pernicious sense of dread?

Because 2016 happened, that’s what. And if it could happen once, it can happen again.

I’ve been surprised—probably you’ve been, too—at how loyal Trump’s base has remained. This has been a very difficult fact to wrap my head around—an inconvenient truth, if you will. My default explanation is that there’s something seriously wrong, psychologically, with Republicans who are still committed to Trump. He is so clearly disgusting and vulgar, so obviously base and evil as a human being, that only somebody as morally corrupt as he is could support him. This is indeed my strong opinion, but its implications are deeply troubling. About 138 million Americans voted in the 2016 election. Let’s say that one-third of them are Trump’s base: that’s 46 million people. Am I really prepared to believe that 46 million Americans are completely, thoroughly immoral and/or insane?

If the answer is “yes,” then I become depressed and demoralized, ready to move to Canada, France, Mexico, anyplace else not overrun by lunatics. If the answer is “no,” then I have to try and put myself into the heads of these 46 million and figure out what the hell they think they’re doing by supporting a sociopath.

This is a hard thing to do. I watch Trump’s MAGA rallies on T.V. and all I can see are screaming, maniacal haters, demonically possessed by something I can’t fathom. There’s something in me that hates them—that wants to ship them all down to Gitmo, lock them up and throw away the key. I realize that this testifies to a certain vengeful insanity in me—but I rationalize it by telling myself that (a) Trump started this and (b) I’m not really going to send them all down to Gitmo, so that fantasy is only me letting off steam.

For me, this argument between red and blue isn’t even so much about Trump’s or Republican policies. I wasn’t entirely turned off by the corporate tax cut: it seems to have stimulated the economy. I’m not entirely unsupportive of tighter border security, and while I don’t have a detailed understanding of environmental issues and their economic consequences, it does seem to me that over-regulating businesses can have a negative impact. I am of course entirely in favor of universal healthcare, and I hate the race-baiting, xenophobia and homophobia of the Republican Party, not to mention their voter-suppression tricks. But there are plenty of areas in which Democrats and Republicans could reach agreement, if bipartisanship were real.

For me, the stumbling block is Trump himself. I’ve seen a lot of bad, evil people in my lifetime, but he really is in a class by himself. The lies, the smears, the bullying—you know the retinue, so I don’t have to repeat them. I’m used to having respectable presidents, Democratic and Republican, men (and only men, so far) who were dignified and comported themselves with decorum. But now we have a president who is the opposite of dignified and decorous, and it grieves me that this man is the face of my country before the world. It grieves me to hear him tell lie after lie after lie, often so blatantly that my chin drops down to my chest in “Did he really say that?” disbelief. It grieves me to see a man so out of touch with his conscience (if he even has one) and so ready to accede to the darkest of his impulses and pander to those of his followers.

If I see Trump that way, why don’t the 46 million?

Yet if my blog has had a consistent message since September, 2016, when I switched the topic from wine to politics, it’s this: Never give up hope! I believe that today the House of Representatives will switch from Republican to Democratic. That is my touchstone, my guiding star. I don’t know about the Senate; I don’t know about governorships (although I’m hopeful Dems will pick up a bunch, and yesterday’s FiveThirtyEight supports this). I don’t know about state legislatures or county or local races. But I do believe that Democrats will pick up at least thirty House seats, and that will be enough to swing the chamber and put, for the first time, an effective check on a criminally rogue president and a low, dishonest Republican Party. Tomorrow evening, I expect to be in full celebration mode.

Now get out there and vote, if you haven’t already!

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