C’mon, are you certain that some tiny part of you doesn’t secretly want Donald Trump elected president?
Aren’t you even a teensy bit curious? Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, Rex in Mundo, seated in majesty on his gold-plated throne, flanked by stuffed lions, killed by his son. What would that be like?
I’m not talking about Trump supporters, those knee-jerk Republicans who vote GOP no matter how far their candidate strays from their alleged values, moral, religious and political. Nor the haters, emboldened to creep out of their basements at mid-day, blinking in the unfamiliar sun, salaaming at his feet. He’s still Their Guy; they’re following him into the abyss.
No, I’m talking about Democrats, those responsible, thoughtful, patriotic citizens who consider government as a vital part of a decent society. We recognize a Trump victory as the bench-clearing brawl it would certainly be, his troglodyte haters running wild in the streets, his main lackeys Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, and Newt Gingrich — a trio of henchmen straight out of “Dick Tracy,” characters only Chester Gould could have invented, perhaps as Pruneface’s gang — striding into the White House, staking out their prime offices. We don’t want that.
You can’t say it wouldn’t be interesting, a dystopian novel come to life. Yes, decent Americans who love this country would clutch our cheeks and howl like the figure in Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream.” But on the other hand, you wouldn’t have to spend $15 to see the latest “Hunger Games” movie; you could just walk outside. The possibility of a Trump presidency somehow beckons. Like the abyss beyond a railing, one fiber of our being gazes at it — horrified yet drawn.
Maybe because we suspect we deserve it. We know we do. Really, what would the shame of a Trump victory mean beyond the epic failure in the American system that his candidacy already represents? Icing on our cake of shame. Or rather a triumph of that element of society that has always been with us, tolerated if not in charge, the backward-looking bigots who, rather than try to cram the sprawling modern world into their walnut-sized brains instead try to hack reality down to a size small enough to pass through the chicken wire around their minds.
This is nothing new. It was in 1923 that H.L. Mencken surveyed this country and found “the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the end of the Middle Ages.”
Sounds about right. And Trump’s election would be just punishment. Sure, we’d all suffer for a while. But the drawback of basing your philosophy on lies is that they aren’t true. The bottom line of Trump’s world is it won’t work. He can’t deport 11 million people, can’t build that wall, but it might be fun to watch him try, to see the billions dribbling away into the desert.
Hillary Clinton on Thursday was leading by eight points, 45 percent to 37 percent, in the Reuters poll, with similar margins in other polls. Which is either mildly soothing — a comfortable lead! — or vastly alarming. Given all we know, that’s terrifyingly close. Remember, there is nothing secret about Trump;. Well, there must be, and imagine what that is. But from his being a lapdog to the Russians — once a deal breaker in American politics — to accusations of his thrusting his unwanted attention on countless women, it all shimmers in plain sight.
When — if — Clinton wins, we’ll heave a sigh of relief that our nation dodged its greatest existential threat since Pearl Harbor. But as Clinton bustles from meeting to meeting mouthing well-vetted bromides, we’ll hear the jingle of jester bells and see a familiar silhouette loping sadly off and wonder what could have been. There is no war so horrible that some vets don’t pine for the excitement when it’s over. The election of 2016 is the ghastliest political spectacle in 100 years. We’ll miss it when it’s over.Tweets by @neilsteinberg