A John Tenniel illustration from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

Like Alice in Wonderland, here being quizzed by a hookah-smoking caterpillar in the classic John Tenniel illustration, Americans have been tumbling through a weird reality for four years now.

Photo by Neil Steinberg

Weird, scary escape from the Trump Zone

The strong odds of a Democrat Joe Biden win fails to reassure in our skewed and strange American political landscape.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, the Cubs won the World Series. The following Tuesday, Nov. 8, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.

Ever since, those two events have been paired in my mind.

Opinion bug


A Cubs championship was deferred for so long, it began to seem impossible. Maybe it was impossible. So it happening anyway, despite being impossible, somehow broke reality, ripping the fabric of space-time. We were all sucked through the tear, into an alternate universe, and have been trapped there ever since.

That would explain a lot. Why we now stumble through this weird, 4th dimension. Like the child in that Twilight Zone episode “Little Girl Lost,” who vanishes through the portal that opens up in her bedroom. Or rather, like her father, desperately trying to find her, plunging into that skewed world, everything distorted, spinning, wrong.


Robert Sampson as the dad in the 1962 “Little Girl Lost” episode of The Twilight Zone, searching for his daughter in a strange, contorted 4th dimension.

Ditto for our plane of existence, where the president’s personal lawyer can appear in a Hollywood movie, sprawled on a bed with his hand down his pants, and not only does it fail to shock, but it makes perfect sense.

Like in “Alice in Wonderland” — of course, there is a large contemptuous caterpillar on a toadstool — this is the place where the talking caterpillar shows up. And of course the caterpillar is smoking a hookah. What else would a caterpillar smoke?

Here is where I’m supposed to tell you what to expect this Nov. 3. But at the risk of being drummed out of the Pundits Guild, I have a confession: I have no idea what is going to happen, Worse: I couldn’t even place my meager stack of chips on an outcome along the entire range of possibility and declare it likely.

Yes, there is massive early voter turnout. And yes, in my fever dreams those lining up for blocks and hours are all patriotic Americans, eyes steely with determination to make sure their country starts squeegeeing off the slime of its four-year embrace with Donald Trump, the beginning of our long, slow crawl back toward a reality that can be measured. Biden crushes Trump. That might happen.

Or maybe, as in any horror movie, expectations will be rudely dashed. Those long tines are Trump fans who don’t want the fun to end. As I write this, I hear their shouts at a rally within sight of my house. Revving motorcycles. “Four more years! Four more years!” They want to see an even greater America that in their convoluted definition means all Trump, all the time. Is that likely? No, but odds are deceptive.

Nate Silver has Biden an 88 to 12 favorite. Which is not comforting at all. Here’s why: Say I take a revolver with seven chambers — a Smith & Wesson Seven-Shot Medium Frame will do.

I put a bullet into one chamber, spin it, and then compel you to put the gun to your head and pull the trigger. As you slowly bring the cold barrel to your temple, are you calm, thinking, “No worries; odds are 86% that I’ll be fine!” Or are you terrified at that 14% chance that your life will end splashed against the wall? Any sane person would be terrified.

The sane Americans today are terrified.

Trump could win outright. Or he could steal the election. He’s already tossed every American tradition over the side. Election by popular vote is just one more. Trump has repeatedly gone on record that he will not respect the outcome should he lose and tipped his hand that he will use the tiny speck of voter fraud as his fig leaf.

The only question is how clumsily he tries, how blindly Republicans help and whether they succeed. Whether we let them succeed. I believe in the end Trump will be defeated. I’m a good-wins-over-evil kind of guy. But I could be wrong, and it won’t be pretty.

So spin the cylinder and see what happens. Click? Or bang? Frankly, the Inauguration Day outcome I can see most clearly is Donald Trump and Joe Biden, in formal attire, wrestling over the Bible on the steps of the Capitol, each trying to shout the oath louder than the other, before a sea of red-and-blue Americans all fighting in a mad, massive free-for-all Battle Royale.

Meanwhile the chuckles from both Russia and China are so loud we can almost hear them.

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