18 October – 21 Days
Three weeks from today is Election Day.
Here’s how it feels to me.
Hillary will win but not by as much as might be expected. Some of the people who were willing to hold their noses and vote for her to save the Republic will now skip voting for president in confidence (rightly or wrongly) their vote won’t be crucial.
The energy levels here in Alexandria have risen and fallen and risen again over the time I have been here.
At first it felt as if many were a bit complacent. Then the polls tightened and more people started registering to vote and joining us as volunteers. The first debate happened and the horror of Donald J Trump began registering more clearly, and more people joined us. When the video emerged of his bragging about sexual assault – I think the energy dropped. I know mine did. I woke that Saturday morning thinking, really? Are people really going to still vote for him? Do we still need to labour so diligently? And that day volunteer numbers were a bit down.
But then as it became clear, even as Republican leaders repudiated him, that many of supporters are welded on. The danger of even a significant minority voting for him seemed palpable in those days after the tape emerged and as women began coming forward with accusations.
And that’s where we are now.
Here’s what I fear. Trump will lose but not by as much as he should which will demonstrate the appetite in this country for hate-filled, blame-mongering, strong-father-authoritarian style leadership. The people who support him will feel, as they already do, empowered and that their views are normal and mainstream. Trump is setting them up to refuse to accept his defeat, assuming he is defeated. He is, as he has been all along, fuelling violence. Trump himself may fade but his campaign has given oxygen to American fascism.
I fear there will be regular, if unorganised and sporadic, violence. That so many police organsiations have backed Trump adds to the worst-case scenario.
I think Trump himself will probably fade, but the thing to fear is the emergence of a charismatic leader and organiser who is able to ride and control this wave. That’s not Trump – he doesn’t have the discipline or, I suspect, the interest. But somewhere out there in Trumpland are people who can see the potential of his supporters and hope to harness them to their will.
This thing won’t end on three weeks from today, not by a long shot.