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They Can't Bear the Thought That Trump's Win Was No Anomaly

As I write, the 2018 midterm elections are just a week away. What is at stake? There have been lakes of ink, and whatever the digital equivalent of ink is, spilt pondering that question.

Since I write on Halloween, let me confess that I find the prospect of Speaker Nancy Pelosi pretty frightening, ditto the prospect of replacing Devin Nunes as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee with Adam Schiff, or the elevation of Rep. Elijah Cummings to the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. I am told that Maxine Waters would be in line to become chair of the House Financial Services Committee, which is not so much scary as surreal. And there are a number of other changes that would be made that would put the trick in trick-or-treat.

I forbear to describe what would happen to the Senate should the Democrats take it not because I am faint of heart -- imagine, if you can bear it, Dianne Feinstein as head of the Judiciary Committee -- but simply because that is not going to happen. I do not, as of Wednesday morning, 31 October, believe that the Democrats will take the House either, though I say that in full recognition of the following:

1) A week is a long time in politics, and who knows what additional early November surprises the Democrats have up their sleeves? Perhaps they’ll produce an equivalent of Christine Ford to make groundless hysterical accusations against various candidates at the last minute: who knows?

2) Most pollsters disagree with me. The World’s Greatest Psephologist™ Nate Silver recently put the odds of the Democrats retaking the House at 86.1 percent. It’s things like that tenth of a percent that endows Silver’s prognostications with such an aura of authority. All those numbers, Virginia! He must really know what he is talking about. (Of course it pains me to note that Silver put the chances of Hillary winning in 2016 even higher.)

Yes, it would be a serious thing for the republic should the Democrats take the House. For one thing, computer keyboards would need to come with an extra “i” or two on account of the wholesale deployment of the word “impeachment.” But at the end of the day, what is really at stake in the midterms is something even larger.

In the deepest sense, what is at stake can perhaps be best formulated as a question. Was the 2016 election, or more specifically, was the election of Donald Trump a horrible anomaly, a sort of political black swan event?

I suspect that most of President Trump’s more doctrinaire opponents, from the Right or soi-disant Right as well as from the Left, believe this. Like many who support the president, I have often entertained myself on sleepy afternoons by watching one of the various compilations that have been made of the mocking predications that were made in the days leading up to the election. It’s good family fun. Those reactions, especially the stunned reactions on election night as the awful truth was born in upon the punditocracy, was partly amusing, partly alarming. It was amusing because of the discrepancy between the pundits’ smug self-assurance and the reality of Trump’s election. It was alarming because of the uncomprehending virulence of their response to what was, after all, a free, open, democratic election in which their gal happened to lose.