I am writing this before the first presidential debate. I don't plan to watch. Too much brain damage. Nothing that would be said could change my vote for Hillary Clinton. The alternative is national suicide.
So far, the election is playing out pretty much as I suspected. Republicans, even the #NeverTrump crowd such as Sen. Ted Cruz, will dutifully line up and vote for Trump. If the GOP candidate were Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, or George H.W. Bush, I would give him a hearing. But one of our two great mass political parties has gone insane. Donald Trump is not an anomaly. He is the natural outcome of the paranoid style in American politics that long ago took over the Republicans. Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater could not win a GOP school-board primary today.
It doesn't matter that Trump is a serial liar, totally unqualified for national office, temperamentally unfit on a frightening level, the most dangerous candidate ever put forward by a major party. They will vote for him.
I don't want to hear about how things would have been different with Bernie. Had he won the nomination and been subjected to months of SOCIALIST!, he would be losing badly in the polls already. To me, your protest votes for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson are just short of treason. And if Trump wins, which he may well do, Mencken's quote that "democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard" will offer no comfort.
We recently passed the 220th anniversary of George Washington's farewell address. He warned against faction and sectionalism. Wise words that did not prevent the Civil War. Now our Cold Civil War is exposing flaws in the Constitution that Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Franklin, and the other framers could not have foreseen. They were deeply versed in history, of course, and pessimistic about earlier experiments in self-government ("A republic," Franklin answered the woman outside the constitutional convention, "if you can keep it.). But they didn't anticipate reality television, mass ignorance, the "post fact" society, faces in devices. All the checks and balances they put in place will be put to an unprecedented test is Trump wins.
The Electoral College and the Senate were specifically intended to act as buffers against the passions of the mob, something the framers especially feared. Yet the Cold Civil War is exposing their flaws — especially if the Trump electors actually vote for him. And they will. The indirect democracy of the Electoral College was put in place so that sober electors would stop a Trump, even if he won the election.
Meanwhile, consider that California's population is larger than 22 other states. Yet California gets two U.S. Senators. Those smaller states, mostly in the New Confederacy, get 44 U.S. Senators. No wonder GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell has been able to stymie so much of President Obama's agenda and appointees, usually ignoring the popular will. As America has sorted into red and blue states, the latter are not numerous enough to control the Congress. Even a blue state such as Washington is deep red outside of metropolitan Seattle.
If Republicans retain control of Congress, which they likely would in the event of a Trump victory, they would not "control" him. He's not controllable and the modern presidency has enormous power — power that has not even begun to be pushed to its full dangerous potential. Instead, every Kook law and measure imaginable would sail through as America repeals the Nixon administration, Great Society, New Deal, Progressive Era, Enlightenment, and even Bush 41's American's with Disabilities Act. And all the liberal protests and vigils would not make the slightest difference — ask the Moral Monday people after Republicans took over all of North Carolina's statewide offices and the Legislature, enacting a far-right agenda.
"The worse, the better," some say, anticipating a 2018 and 2020 progressive landslide in reaction. Again, to me this is close to treason. But anyway, don't hold your breath. As we saw with Stalin, every disastrous consequence of the party line is blamed, not on the party line, but on shadowy "wreckers," and used to further radicalize the strongman's power and the ideology's correctness. This may seem an extreme analogy (is there a Godwin's Law for this?), but Bolshevism was a madness that took decades to burn out. The Trumpism that is in control of the Republican Party is similar insanity. Facts don't matter. Indeed, they are seditious.
The stakes could not be higher. Climate change. The composition of the Supreme Court. Whether we will have any social safety net or a privatized hustle that makes the Gilded Age look like Denmark by comparison. Women's reproductive rights. A constructive vs. a destructive future. Trump himself, with his aggressive ignorance and casual talk of using nuclear weapons. I can't believe we've landed in this fix. It's disgraceful. I suppose it will come down to turnout. I hope sane voters show up — because you can bet the Trump legions will do so in numbers that are, well, huge.