— It’s Monday, November 5, 2018.
— It’s Guy Fawkes Day – the 413th anniversary of the discovery of Gunpowder Plot to blow up the British Parliament and King James I.
Fawkes is the guy – so to speak – who was found with the gunpowder under the House of Lords. He and those plotters who didn’t die in the process of being captured were executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
The big lug was lucky. According to Britain’s iNews, after the hanging and drawing part, Fawkes jumped from the gallows and died instantly.
He was spared the worst parts of the execution, having his bowels removed and burned in front of him before having his heart ripped out.
The British celebrate all this with bonfires and fireworks on the night of the fifth. Because nothing says whoopee like a good disembowelment.
— And so it’s the midterms.
And what have you done?
Two Trump years are over.
And two long ones left to come.
OK, I just might have tipped off one of the tracks on the holiday music compilation I make for my family and friends every year.
But the fact is that, ever since the morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016, there are those of us who have counted the days until tomorrow’s election.
To be sure, we’re also counting the days – 729 – to Nov. 3, 2020, the day of the next presidential election. But thinking that this midterm election might bring some relief from what we dreaded was in itself a star to fix upon.
Sadly, what we dreaded mostly came to pass. I’ll get back to the mostly in a bit.
Instead of bringing the nation together, Trump and the pliant Republicans have attempted to rule in heavy-handed fashion. On issues such as the environment, immigration, racial relations, women’s rights and health care, they have tried with the all the might they can muster to set back progress and reward their enablers.
They have picked fights with the countries with which we have traditionally the best relationships. Instead, Trump cozies up to the world’s worst – Putin, Kim Jong Un, the Saudis.
And then there’s the worst of it. The dismembering of families in his effort to appear tough on people trying to come to this country. The attacks on news organizations that lead the even more warped among his followers to attempt acts of murder. The winks to racists and religious bigots that led to such horrors at Charlottesville and, a week ago, Pittsburgh.
Trump himself is a walking sac of creepiness. His self-congratulatory rallies. His classless trashtalking on Twitter. The self-enrichment that goes on at his properties while he occupies the Oval Office.
A presidential term is four years. So no matter happens tomorrow, this jerk has still got a second half.
But tomorrow is the chance to make sure he knows the next two years won’t be so easy. It’s a chance to make sure he doesn’t have at least one house of Congress that’s in awe of his ersatz glitz and will hold him accountable for once. It can ensure that the Russia investigation – a plot to subvert our country – doesn’t die.
It’s also a chance to affect elections in the states, where a lot of the groundwork for Trumpism was laid over the past decade. We can start to reverse that, just in time for the 2020 Census.
— And so it’s the midterms. And what have you done?
I have one friend, Karen, who has been working on tomorrow for two years. She took her gloom on Nov. 9 and turned it into positive energy.
She’s been active in every local election. She’s tracked candidates all over the country – statehouses, county legislatures, special congressional elections. She’s raised and donated money, made people aware of the candidates and the issues, called out lies, protested, campaigned.
If the Democrats take the House tomorrow, we’ll have Karen and scores of people like her to thank. They believe this country is better than Trump.
And like a bunch of guys in Philadelphia 242 years ago, they’re willing to put their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the line to prove it.
If the Democrats fail tomorrow – if they make gains in the House but come up short of a majority – it will be our fault.
Did we vote? Did we make sure everyone we knew voted? Did we make people aware of what was at stake? Did we give money? Did we give time? Did we ring doorbells and write postcards and make phone calls?
I can’t answer “Yes” to all those questions. The people who can – like my friend Karen – shouldn’t feel as though they’ve let America down – they tried.
The people who can’t do.
— What could stop the Democrats from a position to thwart Trump?
One thing, frankly, is the economy.
On the morning of Nov. 9, I would have sworn that the economy was heading for the crapper. Obama had done what he could to turn the nation around quickly after the financial crisis – and there had been seven years of economic progress.
Trump got a break from that. There was going to be some carryover. But it’s lasted longer than I would have imagined – there’s no getting around the fact that the employment report that came out Friday was good for the country.
The economy isn’t the only thing, but it’s a big thing. If the economy had faltered as we thought, there would be no question about who would win tomorrow.
And there’s still reason to worry. The tax cuts created deficits that are starting to affect homebuying. There’s been no effort to tame the student loan crisis – on the contrary, efforts have been made to phase out programs put in place by the Obama administration.
Finally, why the hell would anyone pick a trade war with China for no good reason?
But the economy is not the disaster some of us expected. And that helps Trump somewhat.
The other thing that could stop the Democrats is their traditional inability to mobilize their supporters.
Younger people are overwhelmingly Democrats. But they don’t vote. They focus on their issues, as they should, but they don’t see how government can do much to address them.
People of color have to vote in big numbers. Women have to vote in big numbers. LGBTQ people have to vote in big numbers.
— So tomorrow is a mini day of reckoning.
The Democrats need a gain of 23 seats to take control of the House. Gaining control of the Senate may be out of the question – the Democrats have to pick up two seats, but they’re defending so many more than the Republicans that holding them all is a daunting task.
There’s probably more we all could have done to make sure tomorrow is a success. But it’s here. And our efforts now face the test.
Do we really outnumber the creeps who support Trump, as we all believe? Or are they just dogged about going to the polls and proving us wrong?
I believe the former. I believe we can make Trump almost over – if we want it.