Millions of Americans will go the polls today to elect their 45th president at the end of an unusually bruising campaign.
Though many have already voted through the post, the question remains: how many will go to the polls today? An estimated 250 million people are eligible, of whom just over half are expected to vote. Voter turnout this time is of special importance because whoever wins would need a strong popular base from which to try and heal the wounds inflicted or opened in this campaign.
Most elections are labeled historic, even if they are not. This time, however, the label is not far-fetched. If Hillary Clinton wins, she will make history by being the first woman to capture the White House, something that even such a formidable intellect like that of Eleanor Roosevelt couldn’t even dare dream of.
Hillary will also add a new presidential dynasty, the Clintons, to the four previous ones (Adams, Harrison, Roosevelt and Bush). More importantly, she would be the first since the end of the Second World War to win a third consecutive presidential term for the Democrats. On a less flattering note, she would also be the first person elected as president while still under the cloud of an FBI investigation, albeit suspended, in connection with a criminal case.
If Donald Trump wins he will be the first businessman to reach the top of the greasy pole of politics in America, succeeding where such giants as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh failed. He would also be the first to enter the White House with no political and/or military experience. (Even Barack Obama had been senator for two years.)
On a personal level, Trump would also be the first serial-divorcer to reach the White House and the first to have a foreign-born spouse. More interestingly, he would be the first to complete the home-stretch in the face of rejection by the establishment of his party. On a less flattering note, Trump would also be the first US President to have in common with Al Capone the fact of not paying any taxes for decades.
For months the good and the great, the literati and the glitterati, have sneered at the American presidential campaign which, this time round, has been as full of twists and turns as a soap opera.
However, even by washing dirty linens in public, the two candidates have shown the strength and resilience of America’s democratic system which allows for both brutal honesty and mendacious excess.
In other countries, skeletons are kept in locked cupboards protected by Omerta guard. My guess is that America will emerge from this annoying, bizarre and bewildering experience stronger and more united and thus better able to resume its role as a major contributor to promoting peace and stability across the globe.
Whoever wins, tomorrow’s America will be better.
As for the mistakes made in the past eight years, the sanest message would be: Come back America, all is forgiven!