A scene from a childhood comic book has lodged itself in my brain. A cosmic trickster from another dimension — who was a longtime nemesis of Superman — got elected Mayor of Metropolis by using his otherworldly powers to force the hands of all voters to slip as they were pulling the lever for another candidate.
That’s my Nov. 8 fantasy. That millions of voters — no matter how exasperated with Hillary Clinton — physically cannot force themselves to tick a box marked Donald Trump. Their hands would rebel at the thought of the bilious billionaire giving orders to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, plotting revenge via the IRS and welcoming Girl Scout troops to the White House.
In reality, this will be an election far closer than it should have been because we as a nation have normalized Donald Trump. He has broken so many norms of democracy from bothering to learn the issues to releasing his taxes. His threats against the press make Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew look like stalwart protectors of the First Amendment. We have become so numbed by Trump outrages that he seems statesmanlike any day he obediently reads other people’s words off a Teleprompter.
On election night, I will be looking for lasting signs of rebellion by never-Trump Republicans. If it occurs, it will be in places like Ohio’s Delaware County, the affluent suburbs of Columbus where Mitt Romney received 61 percent of the 2012 vote. Or in Chester and Bucks counties, outside Philadelphia, where Romney ran roughly even with Barack Obama. And it would be glorious if Trump somehow limped home third in deep-red Utah behind Clinton and GOP protest candidate Evan McMullin.
Regardless of the final numbers, the dominant story of 2016 will be how close a wacko former reality show host came to acquiring nuclear weapons.
Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro is a veteran of Politics Daily, USA Today, Time, Newsweek and the Washington Post. His book on his con-man great-uncle was just published: “Hustling Hitler: The Jewish Vaudevillian Who Fooled the Fuhrer.” Follow him on Twitter @MrWalterShapiro.