Pre-midterm jitters

With no Red Sox diversion, tomorrow’s midterms have produced difficulty sleeping and stress eating.  Even the daily comics are filled with reminders of what hangs in the balance.  If the Republicans lose the House, Donald Trump will say the outcome wasn’t about him. But this midterm is the first national referendum on the President and on what we want the character of this country to be.

At every rally where he has taken his mendacious, racist, misogynist, divisive fear-mongering rants, he has said, “A vote for [name the Republican candidate] is a vote for me.”  And it surely is. It is also about access to health care, and about reasonable immigration policy and strength from diversity.  It is about the economy, the power of the corporations, and income inequality.  It’s about whether the United States should continue to be the leader of the free world, committed to building global alliances, to avoid problem solving by wars. It is no less about creating racial and religious equality, respect for women, access for the disabled.  It’s about whether our First Amendment implies a free press or whether the media are the enemy of the people.  Most of all, it’s about our capacity for civil discourse irrespective of our differences on a range of policy matters.

Right now, I’m guardedly optimistic about the House changing hands. The Senate remains a heavy lift, though recent polls are increasingly upbeat about some key Senate races. That said, we mustn’t forget the wrong-headed 2016 polls and what NBC’s Chuck Todd calls the errors of “the national smarty-pants people.”  Remember, Clinton’s 2016 electoral college loss was “margin-of-error” predictable.

That leaves us back to worrying about whether the millennials and minorities will vote in substantially greater numbers than they have before, whether the bad weather forecast for huge swaths of the country will deter their participation, and whether last-minute dirty tricks by one candidate or another (especially secretaries of state in Georgia and Kansas) will further suppress the vote and skew the outcome.

With so much at stake and so many races neck and neck, tomorrow promises to be a late night.  Optimally, it will be an outcome worth staying up late for.

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