These days, Sonja Patton finds herself yelling at the TV. Some nights, she’s so worked up she can’t sleep.
Overall, she describes herself as anxious. Very anxious.
“I just honestly can’t believe there’s that many people out there who would put that man in charge of our country,” she said the other day.
You know who “that man” is. Patton is a Democrat, and it turns out she’s like a lot of other Democrats around town these days who are worried silly about a Donald Trump presidency.
President Trump? That wasn’t supposed to happen, right? Even Republicans can agree with that. He was the fluke celebrity candidate who was never a serious contender for the GOP nomination who became the nominee and is now closing fast against Hillary Clinton.
Republicans fear a Clinton presidency, too. I get that, and so do many Democrats. But until now, many GOPers never thought this Trump thing was actually going to happen.
Now it might.
As I write this, the RealClearPolitics polling average has it at 41.0 for Clinton to 39.9 for Trump nationally in a four-way race. Trump leads in the swing states of North Carolina, Florida (barely), Ohio, Nevada and Iowa. He now has a path to the White House. That didn’t appear to be the case before.
That’s what freaks out Patton of Olathe and so many others. A 54-year-old project manager for an area engineering company, she now recognizes that The Donald and Melania soon might occupy the White House.
And she can hardly stand it.
One of the latest Trumpisms that sent her ’round the bend was that comment last month that President Barack Obama and Clinton are the founder and co-founder of ISIS.
“They showed the clip (on TV), and I said, ‘Wait, what did he say?’ I replayed it, and I listened again, and I turned to my husband and said, ‘Did you see what he said?’ ”
That one kept her up that night, stewing, fretting, wondering.
Brent Anderson is riding the same train. The 50-year-old creative director for Boulevard Brewing Co. can hardly stop talking about what he’s seeing. The country is at a low point, he insists. Trump lies all day “and nobody cares.” He brings out the worst in people.
One minute Anderson’s talking about the fear he feels in his gut. The next, he describes the emotion as more raw anger that things have gotten where they have.
If Trump wins, Anderson said, he’s looking at a four-year anxiety binge as he wakes up every morning wondering what the president will do next.
Former Democratic state lawmaker Tim Van Zandt said one thing that gets to him is how this election has changed everything in American politics. “There used to be,” he said, “some certainty,” such as where the parties stood on major issues.
“The rules are gone,” Van Zandt noted.
“Scares me to death,” said another former lawmaker, Bill Skaggs, about the prospect of a Trump presidency. Trump, he insisted, could get the U.S. embroiled in a world war in a flash. “He could start a holy war with the Muslims.”
Now comes Monday night and the first presidential debate. All Clinton has to do is check Trump on any misstatements, look like she’s enjoying herself in front of more than 100 million people as Trump attempts to portray her as corrupt, be aggressive (but not too aggressive; she’s a woman, after all), find a way to appeal to young people, energize her base, fend off that email thing, show a command of the facts (but don’t get too wonky) and win the face-off going away.
No wonder Democrats can’t sleep.