Then look across the channel and imagine the governance of France after an election in which the social democrats get wiped out and the Front National takes its share of the vote upwards from the 34% vote share it achieved in recent local elections. Next add in the distinct possibility of a German government dragged to the right by a resurgence of extremism in its local elections and an electorate that has decided to punish Merkel for trying to behave decently towards desperate refugees.
What kind of world would we be living in if this entirely possible version of reality worked out?
Worrying isn't it? Fortunately this alarmist vision doesn't have to be true. Elections can produce horrible results and it is all too easy for populist politicians backed by a great deal of money to convince people to adopt policies that take us into some very dark and dangerous places. They can also produce very positive results.
Some folk on the left are highly critical of liberal democracies and want us to believe that the entire system is a corrupt fix and that we are entirely at the mercy of a plutocracy who control what we think and do absolutely. They don't. They can control the old fashioned mass media but they cannot control what any of us will do when we get into the ballot box and, with the growth of social media, they are starting to find it a lot harder to control what people hear. The ability to say and hear what you want and the ability to stand in elections and vote freely for who you want are important freedoms.
Ordinary Democratic voters are free to vote for Saunders instead of Clinton and by doing so in impressive numbers they are changing the nature of what it is permissible for serious politicians to support in the States. His mass support will have an impact on what Clinton does even if he loses. Equally the mass of American voters have every opportunity to vote down Trump and demonstrate that his loud mouthed approach is out of synch with the vast majority of the population. By sending him to a crushing defeat they would be delivering a huge message to all American politicians and to many in the UK. This kind of politics plays well to a small number of highly active and very unpleasant people but it doesn't work with the vast bulk of folk.
A defeat for Trump would be a huge defeat for the whole of the American right. The ability to deliver that defeat still resides with the US voters, just as the ability to deliver our own defeat to a lurch to the right lies with UK and European voters. The vote wasn't given to people as a free gift from the rich and powerful to try and fool them. It was fought for and demanded by ordinary men and women against huge resistance because they knew that it put them in control. Indeed the rich have never quite got used to the idea that poor people can actually control them once in a while. That's why it was made so difficult for them to register to vote in the States and why the Conservatives in the UK are trying to copy this by taking a lot of poor people off the electoral register.
Democracy isn't a thing to be despised. It is something to be celebrated. When someone on the left tries to persuade people that they should be cynical about it and refuse to vote they are simply increasing the sense of powerlessness of working people. When they make sure everyone is registered and determined to exercise the power that the vote gives them then they are helping to consolidate a victory that was hard won by our predecessors.
I am the first to admit that people have been turned off from voting by some very bad experiences of untrustworthy politicians. Tony Blair's assertion that we should trust him because he had seen evidence of weapons of mass destruction that meant we had to go to war would be top of my list. Closely followed by George Brown's claim to have put an end to boom and bust just as he allowed the bankers to push us into the biggest bust ever.
But the nature of struggle is that you have to keep fighting. If you don't push forward then opponents will push you back. In any given situation there is always a way to improve it a little, and sometimes a lot. There are also always ways for it to be made worse. All the best struggles were won by people who refused to be intimidated by hugely powerful forces of the establishment and who took on the odds and won.
It seems to me that in a very short period of time we could be living under the rule of some very scary people. At the very least we are going to have to get used to doing politics in a time when extreme right wing politicians and their nasty supporters are a significant force. We can't beat them by trying to persuade the public that they are essentially correct but a little too extreme. We can defeat them and the centre ground austerity politicians by using the freedoms we have got effectively to put forward policies that genuinely are in the interest of ordinary people. We can defeat the right by being effective and honest and sticking to our principles when working for the public in elected office locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
In case this sounds like a weak liberal point of view I would remind you that Lenin insisted the Bolsheviks stood for the Tsarist Duma even when the elections were utterly stacked against him. And the Anarchists stood for office and entered the government during the Spanish Civil War!