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Why 2016 Is NOT About Who Will Be President

How do we know a key historical moment has arrived? When do we know it is time to act?

Writing in the Washington PostPaul Waldman claims to have seen signs from Donald Trump that now warrant such extraordinary measures. Waldman argues that the journalism community has decided (and how exactly this happens is not clear) to put a stop to The Donald:

The media have reached a turning point in covering Donald Trump. He may not survive it.

...

[S]omething may have changed just in the last few days. I have no idea how meaningful it will turn out to be or how long it will last. ... [J]ournalists finally figured out how to cover Donald Trump.

I suspect that many journalists are deciding that the way to cover Trump is just to do it as honestly and assiduously as possible, which would itself be something almost revolutionary.

The argument, stripped of its self-congratulatory paragraphs, suggests they've reached the point when they're going to tell the "truth" about Trump -- in a departure from their usual practice. Another sign that something's changed is the San Jose chase-down of participants at a Trump rally. As one friend wrote on Facebook:

The message of the San Jose violence is that you don't have a right to go support the candidate you want as you had in the past.

No more corny political rallies, no more cutesy red-white-and-blue satin basketball outfits with pom-poms to cheer your candidate, they are off limits without bullet-proof vests and bodyguards. If you ignore this new reality, you will be beaten to a pulp by righteous mobs brandishing foreign flags. You don't have that right anymore.

Politics is now a maelstrom of baying mobs with burning tires, shattered bottles, eggs hurled, shot-out tires, smashed in windshields, rocks hurled as cops stand around doing nothing.

Nor, if you are a Democrat, do you have a right to have your vote counted fairly -- the establishment above you has named some pigs more equal than others and created a super-delegate system that makes a mockery of voter sentiment and enforces the status quo.

What does it add up to? A realization that democracy itself is under assault, and far weaker than anyone realized. We took so much for granted and it looks ready to vanish faster than anyone ever expected. The real story of this election is the assault on democracy and the question of whether it can be turned around.

Larry Kudlow describes another storm petrel on the horizon with his headline "Shock Report on Jobs Signals Obama Economy Is on Brink of Recession".

What these three events have in common is the implied destruction of the old normal world. The First Amendment leaves in the night, the middle class paycheck departs in the morning.

If any of these sightings -- especially the recessionary portents -- actually develop into full-blown effect, we might recognize that a key event has arrived. If is the big question. The risk in "waiting for history" is that, like Nagumo at Midway, one has to decide on the basis of imperfect information whether that last report indicates that "this is it" or just another false alarm. This is especially stressful when one has to make the right call, since there is always the risk of reacting to a false positive with catastrophic consequences.