The confluence of my birthday and a presidential election happens every 28 years. The first time was in 1960—not surprisingly my first political memory—when Kennedy stole the election from Nixon. The second was in 1988, when Bush beat Dukakis—a happy outcome at the time, although in hindsight the starting point of the Bush-Clinton hammerlock on our politics and of almost three decades of national decline. Today is the third and almost certainly—unless I beat the odds and live to 90—the last. So is it possible that the voters will make my birthday great again?
Trump is the first Republican presidential candidate to contest Michigan since I moved here in 2000. Why didn’t the others? I think it’s because the idea of appealing to Americans as citizens on the basis of a common good was foreign to them. They had been brainwashed—to borrow Eugene McCarthy’s line about George Romney, a light rinsing would have sufficed—to understand the electorate entirely in terms of interest groups, and so it made no sense to them to waste their time or money here. “The numbers aren’t there,” as the consultant class likes to say. To his credit, Trump holds that class in contempt. Ditto the Democrats’ “blue wall.”
Trump’s closing argument up in Grand Rapids last night (actually early this morning, just after midnight, his fifth rally of the day; as they say in Ireland, Homeric!) was just right. Who rules? Globalist elites or the American people? Will it be enough to win Michigan and the election? I don’t know. A friend here had two workers over to cut trees and brush on her property a few weeks ago. Older guys. One hadn’t voted in 25 years and the other had never voted. Both registered this year to vote for Trump. The pollsters don’t have these people on their radar. When I voted this morning at the same time and in the same place as in the last four presidential elections, the line was three times longer than I have seen it. That’s good. Our county, not that long ago full of manufacturing plants, is now one of the poorest in the state. Trump country. I got tears in my eyes leaving the polls. First time that ever happened.
If we win tonight, the real fight begins—my brother, who lives in South Carolina and thinks that makes him a southerner, likened this election to Pickett’s Charge; I told him I’d go along with that if he’d go along with me likening the fight we face after Trump wins to Sherman’s March to the Sea. If we don’t win tonight, it will be time for some radical re-thinking. In either case, Trump has brought about a realignment: we will have new allies, and many past friends—some of them are spilling a lot of vitriol on Facebook and the blogs the last few days; there is blood coming out of their eyes, out of their wherever—will be now on the other side. That’s all for the good. The post-WWII conservative movement has become stupid and irrelevant and needs to be retired.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Today we have an election to win and a nation to save.
And a closing thought: hasn’t Mike Pence been a stalwart? God bless him. And God bless Donald Trump.