President Trump won in 2016 by the narrowest of margins in three states (Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania), against a candidate with rotten personal ratings in an election influenced by Russia and by an over-eager FBI director. It was the quintessential black swan event — an aberration possible only in unique circumstances.

That explanation sounded reasonable after a Democratic sweep in 2018, and would look even more credible should former vice president Joe Biden and the Democrats sweep to victory in nine days. Depending on the magnitude of the Democrats’ victory, the viability of a party infiltrated by rabid white supremacists and self-pitying evangelical Christians may be seriously in doubt. Maybe the days are coming to an end when voter-suppression techniques and a closed loop of fraudulent right-wing media (enabled by conservative pundits yearning for relevance and desperate to keep their cultish audience) could perpetuate a party representing a caricature of America in the 1950s.

That’s a less blatant way of saying that Trump and the right-wing apparatus figured out how to game the system under unusual circumstances in an effort to diminish the power of anyone whom they did not consider a real American (i.e., White and Christian). They fleetingly produced a government that sought to beat back public policy preferences held by the vast majority of Americans. They sustained power and covered for an organized assault on the rule of law and a willingness to lie continually. They convinced themselves they were the real America but, in fact, they rejected the social, economic and political changes that have transformed the United States over decades.

Former Republican operative Matthew Dowd observed:

It is true in Georgia and North Carolina and Arizona and plenty of other places, as well.

Democrats have long predicted a demographic shift in their favor as a result of a declining White population, but Republicans have deluded themselves into believing that a reactionary White minority could maintain power indefinitely through a combination of media manipulation, voter suppression, soft money, judicial activism and grievance-mongering.

At some point, there simply are not enough people to sustain Republican rule, especially when it requires voters to understand a convoluted conspiracy theory involving Russia, Hunter Biden, “pillows and sheets” and laptops. There are simply too many Blacks, students and first-generation Americans willing to stand in line and vote early in North Carolina, Georgia and elsewhere. Too many college-educated women in suburbs throughout the country are appalled by Trump’s cruelty and know-nothingism. In the four years of Trump, the “Resistance” has turned into an organized voting majority.

Many Democrats and ex-Republicans remained mystified — even sickened — by the notion that even 40 percent of the electorate could support a racist candidate who is utterly untethered to reality. Sadly, there is a segment of Americans, bigger than their decent and patriotic countrymen have imagined, who actually believe what Trump is saying. Removed from the freakish events of 2016, however, it seems they cannot construct a governing (or electoral college) majority — even with the help of voter suppression and a Kremlin propaganda pipeline.

The goal of a new administration and Congress must be to restore democratic (small “d”) legitimacy and secure its future so that the United States — as it is now, and as it will be in future generations, in all its racial, ethnic and religious diversity — is not deprived of the opportunity for self-government. The range of reforms is vast, from voting and court reform to increasing the size of the House of Representatives to depoliticization of the Justice Department to increasing financial transparency for officeholders and the criminal penalties on receipt of foreign election assistance. The goal is simple: Never again should a thin stratum of hateful Americans be able to game the system and threaten the basic tenets of democracy.

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