The crown is slipping.
The crown is slipping. STEPHANIE KEITH/GETTY

I've been having this unfamiliar feeling over the last few days, a feeling I haven't experienced since Antonin Scalia died. I suppose some would argue it's never okay to celebrate a death, but I will admit to feeling a little buzz of hope when I learned that Scalia was gone from both Earth and the Supreme Court after getting a gleeful group text about it from my mom. She was, understandably, sure that Obama would have the next pick on the Supreme Court. He was, after all, the president. Until it became clear that Mitch McConnell would stick his fingers in his ears and start humming every time he heard the words "Merrick Garland," what I felt, for a brief time, was optimism. Of course, we all know how that turned out.

I was not optimistic this time two years ago. I didn't know that Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote, but I always thought she'd lose the general election simply because so much of America has and always will hate her. Their hatred is more often based on a caricature of Clinton that was crafted by right-wing media than on the real person, but this electorate was never going to elect Clinton against such an outsized, gold-tinted showman. We, unfortunately, want our leaders to be entertainers, and Hillary Clinton ain't that. It was surprising to me that so many liberals couldn’t see the inevitable, but in retrospect, it also made sense. So many liberals only listen to NPR and watch CNN and interact with their own kind. The media is dominated by people just like them. Of course liberals weren’t motivated to vote. The polls and the news all made the race seem like a foregone conclusion. Why bother to show up?

My Facebook feed during the run-up to the 2016 election was half filled with preemptive cheers of "Madame President" and half filled with screeds against Clinton in particular and voting in general. And this all came from people on the left. For my part, I wasn't particularly enamored with Clinton, who reminded me of so many other politicians whose personal ambition outweighs what the world actually needs (looking at you, John Edwards, the man who ran for president with a baby-shaped skeleton in his closet), but I still defended her in long, drawn out, friendship-ending Facebook fights. Most of the these fights were with anarchists and apathetics who said voting doesn't change anything and then, invariably, referred to Clinton to as "the lesser of two evils." I would always point out that the lesser of two evils is still less evil but it didn't seem to matter back then.

I doubt I convinced anyone to vote in those heated months before the 2016 election, and when Clinton somehow won but still lost, I had to concede that the non-voters might have had a point. Maybe voting doesn't matter. Twice in my adult life, the party who got the most votes still lost the big race. What kind of democracy was that? And yet, when Trump took office and wasn't just as bad as I’d feared but actually worse—from the nativist policies to his fawning over dictators to the sheer volume of his lies—it has become clear that the coming midterms may be our last chance to stop Donald Trump and his march toward global instability. I'm not talking about impeachment—I don't think we're better off with President Pence—but I am talking about preventing that man from accomplishing anything more significant than a jigsaw puzzle until he can be voted out of office. Trump needs to be stonewalled, and it's going to take Democrats controlling at least one branch of Congress to do it. The lesser of two evils is still less evil.

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And that, I think, is exactly what's going to happen on November 6. Early voting numbers are setting records, Republicans are down in the polls (although if we learned anything in 2016, it should have been not to trust polls), and traffic on The Stranger's own endorsement guide is nearly three times higher than it was in the 2014 midterms. Plus, my Facebook feed is wildly different this time around. While bragging about not voting is not entirely absent—one of my non-voting friends is currently engaged in a heated debate with his great aunt Judy, who has informed him that he will be sitting at the kiddie table come Thanksgiving—I've only seen a couple of people proudly standing up to inform the world that they still don't vote.

Instead, what I'm seeing is "I Voted" stickers and people offering each other rides to the polls. In fact, when I posted on Facebook that if any nonvoters would give me their phone number, Dan Savage would personally call them, I couldn't find a single volunteer. Of course, there could be many reasons for this: Maybe they're still mad about the Iraq War or maybe Facebook's algorithm buried my post or maybe people just won't admit that they're not voting, but still, I find myself feeling warily optimistic. The nonvoters are out there, to be sure, but I suspect a lot of Americans learned their lesson.

Despite gerrymandering and redistricting and attempts from the right to suppress the Democratic vote, the fact is, there are more liberals than conservatives in this country, and Donald Trump is what happens when those Democrats don't show up to vote. That doesn't mean that the Democratic Party, if it gains power, won't fuck up. Plenty of Democrats are as beholden to Wall Street and as enabled by big donors as the GOP, but at least Democrats aren't fueled by a fear and hatred of immigrants, of non-white people, of those who weren't born in the States. We are fueled by hatred, to be sure, but right now, that fear and hatred is focused on the GOP and Donald J. Trump. And if that's not a powerful motivator, then the people just can't be motivated. This year, I have a feeling they can. The blue tsunami might not be coming, but a blue tide is. I can almost feel it.