Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Tonight's the kind of night where everything may change
We're there. Finally. One of the most controversial and divisive presidential elections in American history is drawing to a close, and tomorrow could be the apocalypse, or just business as usual.
Admittedly, everything looks good for Hillary, but predictions in this year of all years are fragile things, to be blasted away by iconoclastic forces. Who's to say whether or not the utterly devoted Trump supporters don't turn out in such numbers as to give him Florida and the rust belt states? Maybe Hillary is a far greater turn off than her supporters and admirers would concede. We could know how far into the lunatic fringe America is heading, or how much she intends to stay in the realm of normality, in about seven hours.
I have made no secret in the last few blog posts of how much I think Trump is a monstrous, appalling abomination of a candidate, or how I think Hillary's poor standing significantly under-sells her formidable strengths as a potential president. But all of that is naught, especially for this non-American with no vote. And yet, before the votes start rolling in, there is one final thing to note.
There has been much comment throughout this campaign, notably its latter stages, of how it is a terrible advert for democracy and a turn-off for younger voters. We should quash this nonsense. It is what all democratic procedures are. Messy, reflective of the humans who involve themselves in it, frustrating and sometimes outrageous. But it is still the way in which humans with free spirits and independent minds can demand changes in the personnel who rule them and challenge the institutions of government and legislature. It is still the best way of regularly moving power from one leader to the next. Messy, loud and aggressive as it is, it shines as a beacon when compared with the amoral, brutal authoritarianism of a Vladimir Putin in Russia, or the murderous actions of a President Assad in Syria, or the carefully pre-determined "elections" in the theocracy of Iran. In too many nations the transfer of power is at the behest of those with the greatest force. In too many nations the time when leadership changes hands is simply a time to keep your head down and hope you can avoid the fallout.
Democracy isn't meant to be smooth, but it is meant to be liberating, and like it or not this year's election in the US has been no different in that regard from its predecessors. Long may it continue.
We are going to try and live-blog the election. The estimable members of the SGS U6th politics set are gathering together to watch the election through the night, and if their wits are up to it they will be sharing some views on this blog. That's the idea at any rate. Feel free to check back in every so often to see if its working!