Signs are we may well be faced the night of November 8 with a President Trump, and we will all go to bed exhausted, depressed and wake up the next day to face the consequences.
Trying to imagine that future inevitably one looks to the past.
November 9 will likely not see an unleashing of the nasties, no Kristallnacht no bands of marauding thugs roaming the streets, burning mosques, beating up immigrants. It will likely take a little while for the Trump version of the KKK to organize, to choose targets: setting fire to Lawrence, Massachusetts where there is a concentration of Hispanic immigrants, or throwing Molotov cocktails around Dearborn, Michigan, where the Muslim population is dense.
The figure most like Mr. Trump in recent memory is Spiro Agnew, who was a wheeler/dealer from Baltimore, who became Richard Nixon's choice for Vice President and Nixon regretted it almost immediately.
Agnew had the same taunting, irreverent style as Mr. Trump, describing liberals as "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals."
He became the darling of the right wing and soon after he emerged in the national spotlight, newspapers across the country got inundated with frothing antisemitic and racist mail. It was as if his victory signaled all the creepy crawlies out there to pop out of their underground shelters, but they never did start rampaging. Of course, he was only Vice President.
As it turned out, Agnew was really a two bit grifter. I don't know the story of how they finally got him, but I do know from people who knew him in Maryland, he was dirty as they come. A developer who built shopping malls told me most of the officials he had to deal with in Maryland were squeaky clean, but Agnew was simply a guy who demanded a bribe without dancing around what he was asking for. He was elected Vice President twice, but did not make it through his second term, when they finally caught up with him.
Benito Mussolini had the same braggadocio style as Mr. Trump, but he lasted a lot longer than Agnew--he ruled Italy over 21 years until they caught up with him. Things changed in Italy less explosively, but no less dramatically, as the Garden of the Finzi-Continis portrayed: The underlying hatred he fostered took a while to ferment and mature, and those who found themselves in the cross hairs of the social and political changes coming often chose to remain oblivious, until it was too late.
None of us want to be caught unaware, like the elegant, precious Finzi-Continis, but none of us can see the future. The constant among the victims, whether they lived in Ferrara, Italy or Vienna or Berlin or Amsterdam, was a conviction, a hope "this is just a passing cloud." That's the problem which Mr. Trump presents: Is he a passing cloud or a gathering storm?
Whereas Hitler had written "Mein Kampf" and it was clear where he was headed, Trump has no well delineated agenda, other than the fuzzy "Make America Great Again" and building a wall and reinstating torture for suspected terrorists.
Justices Gingsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor will not likely all die on November 9, 2016, but at 83, 78 and 62 they will likely all be replaced by Mr. Trump. Why Sotomayor? She is an insulin requiring diabetic and that means the underwriting on her longevity is severely limited.
It's hard to outline the sequence of the apocalypse.
When Reagan was elected, I thought, "Good, now those conservative idiots can fail." Every President disappoints; now it's their turn.
As liberals, we all had to endure the excesses and inanities of the liberal extremists who floated up when Lyndon Johnson came to power. Even today, in the wake of a hamstrung liberal presidency, we have to endure the ultra politically correct fools who argue for "safe spaces" at universities and who want warning labels on works of literature. Pandora's boxes abound on both sides, right and left.
But with Reagan, despite his astonishing failures: tripling the national debt, military debacles around the globe, his Hollywood marketing machine sold his 8 years in office as a Disneyland extravaganza of the golden age, with fluttering bluebirds and song.
It's hard to predict, but my bet is Mr. Trump will simply be another George W. Bush. Watching him posture and flounder and fail, may be Schadenfreude, but scant consolation.