Before we go any further in the direction of optimism, however, let us pause to consider the worst-case scenario. Suppose that the incessant stream of negative news and the vast blitz of billionaire-funded Democratic campaign advertising proves sufficient to drag Joe Biden’s aging carcass across the finish line. In the past week, four different polls (CNBC, CNN, Reuters, and the Economist) have shown Biden with a double-digit nationwide lead. Overall, the RealClearPolitics poll average Thursday had Biden leading nationally by more than seven points, 51.1 to 43.7. Maybe the polls are wrong, but what if the margin of error isn’t enough to stop Biden from being elected?

No big deal. We lose an election. We’ve lost elections before and survived. What made Trump’s victory in 2016 so important was that, first of all, Hillary Clinton was in effect running for Obama’s third term. Her defeat was not merely due to Clinton’s personal unpopularity, nor to Trump’s celebrity persona, but rather that many voters rejected a continuation of the policy status quo. Trump’s populist “America First” message proved more popular than the so-called “globalist” agenda that had been embraced not only by Democrats but also by an influential element of the Republican Party. What broke the fabled “blue wall” four years ago were blue-collar voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin who wanted a policy that made their jobs a higher priority than abstract principles of free trade. Bipartisan agreement in Washington in favor NAFTA, GATT, and other multilateral trade deals were never popular with American industrial workers.

If somehow Biden wins next week, it would be the height of folly for him to interpret this result as a referendum in favor of a return to globalism.