Nervously Awaiting Nov. 8

I awake each morning at six to surf political websites before stumbling into the shower. I check for new polls, six, seven, eight times a day. I click on big data guru Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site morning, noon and night.

Why, I can't help but wonder, has Donald Trump's chances of winning risen a tad to 13.9 percent in the last several days? Why does Silver's big data analysis give Trump a significantly better, if still slight, chance of winning this election than the "New York Times" Upshot (7 percent) or the Princeton Election Consortium (3 percent)?

I mean, isn't a 3 percent chance of a Trump emerging victorious scary enough?

To me, Donald Trump exemplifies everything bad about America.

Roger Cohen put it eloquently in The New York Times last weekend in a column titled Trump, the Anti-American: "The America of 'Sure' is a stranger to Trump. His is the angry America of 'shove it.' He would threaten to undo what America is."

Others, too, have weighed in forcefully about the danger and degradation implicit in Donald Trump and his campaign. And they are right.

Wrote The Times Nicholas Kristof: "Trump has advocated policies that are confused or senseless -- deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants en masse, banning Muslims from entering the country, undermining NATO, slashing taxes on billionaires while raising them on single parents, capitulating to Russia on Crimea -- yet these don't get him into deep political trouble. Instead, his vulnerability seems to be something more elemental: He's a jerk."

Toward the column's end, he added, "Trump's comments may be brutal, but his policies would be infinitely more so."

No question.

Let's not forget either the flock of women who've now come forward to tell harrowing stories alleging uninvited gropes and assaults at the hands of this man who believes he can take what he wants, when he wants and how he wants. Or his across-the-board xenophobia and savage attacks on virtually anyone, Democrat or Republican, who dares to disagree with or confront him.

And yet Donald Trump won't fade from the headlines, this hateful, selfish, bullying man; this race-baiting misogynist; this ignorant and erratic boor. Just look at Nate Silver's statistics.

So I worry. Why does such a large slice of America admire him? Is the life of his supporters so bad that they'll embrace any con man who offers them "something different," as incoherent and dishonest as that something might be? Are we that hateful a people by nature? And what does it say of our future, now that at every turn he undermines our democracy by roaring to his brainwashed minions that this election has been "fixed?" (Meanwhile, I quietly hope, given Russia's hackers, that no shenanigans will take place on election day to tilt things in his favor.)

Yes, I am nervous about Nov. 8. The more it seems that Hillary Clinton is emerging as a sure-shot, the more nervous I become. And I know I am not alone.

I see similar concerns in posts from friends on Facebook. Is Hillary too cocky? Is the confidence of the pundits misplaced? Does Trump have a massive hidden vote among the downtrodden and angry masses?

Wrote one friend on Facebook:

"ARE HILLARY SUPPORTERS BEING FOOLISH?
I hope not, but I'm very concerned about their being over-confident as a result of recent polls. Two things to keep in mind -- first, that many Trump supporters probably refuse to participate in polls because they see pollsters as part of the elite, thus causing misleading poll results. Second, until the last minute, polls in the UK predicted that "remain" would win in the Brexit vote. You know what happened there. Let's not let it happen here."

Then, in this Sunday's New York Times Review, two writers (one the son of a close friend) analyzed the data of Google searches to sort out: "Are voters misleading pollsters? Are there hidden Donald Trump supporters who could throw the election his way?"

Though they never exactly say, the answer appears to be, "well, maybe." ( "Mr. Trump is such an unusual candidate that he makes it difficult to interpret any data," they write, "but there are a couple of indicators that Mr. Trump may be doing better than polls suggest in some states.")

Gulp.

Meanwhile, the drip-drip of Wikileaks' email dumps dribble out stories that potentially could rally Hillary Clinton's enemies and give pause to the last undecided voters drifting toward the Democratic side.

So, while most pundits are pondering what will happen if Clinton wins and Trump refuses to concede, I sometimes lie awake, staring skyward at 3 or 4 a.m., wondering what will happen if Trump surprises everyone and wins. What then?

I am the son of an immigrant who fled Germany in the mid-1930s. My father often repeated a piece of advice to my brother and me growing up: Keep your passport current and close by, just in case you need it. I understood why he gave that advice, though never before have I felt in this country a need to possibly heed it.

Today, I'll instead offer different advice to you and my children: VOTE this Nov. 8. Laziness, or a stubbornly idealistic refusal to vote for someone you may perceive to be an imperfect alternative to Trump, could cost you the land you love.

I don't say this out of blind partisanship. Nor am I trying to be hyperbolic.

There's a clear choice on the ballot in two weeks: In one column is a very smart, if sometimes too slick politician with a world of experience. She would become the first woman ever elected president. In the other column is a sleazy con operator, a cruel narcissist who cares about no one but himself and who could quickly emerge as the man who dissolved American democracy.

The choice, in short, should be easy.