Dubai: Few had imagined it would be so close in the end. The vaunted ‘Blue Wave’ didn’t materialise for the Democrats. Those of us who thought this election would be Joe Biden’s to lose must now contend with just how narrow his lead seems to be.
By any yardstick, Donald Trump’s presidency has been one like no other. But divisions engendered in the lead up to the polls - the vicious personal insults and name-calling - were reflected in the preliminary results of the epic contest, and the almost open hostility between the Trump and non-Trump camps.
On the face of it, the US currently faces two major problems: COVID-19 and an economy in the doldrums. But what was apparent from today’s roller-coaster of a vote was a third problem: Insurmountable divisions among Americans. The country seems to be split right down the middle with a zero-sum mentality taking hold. In the medium- to long-term, this mentality might prove to be more difficult to deal with than the first two problems.
America’s robust democracy means that nothing is over until all the votes are counted. And therein lies the rub: Any unfounded claims of fraud could undermine how people perceive the validity of this vote. Counting ballots well after Election Day is routine; there is nothing in the law that prohibits it.
What has made the process more laborious this time is the fact that millions of votes were cast by mail-in ballots. Counting them takes time. Making the vote not only fair, but also appear to be fair is important and the electoral process must be allowed to run its course. Threatening to ask the US Supreme Court to intervene is uncalled for at this stage. This is doubly important given the fact that close contests in five key states mean that it could take days to decide the outcome of the vote.
Meanwhile, as this process goes on, the world will have no option but to anxiously wait to see who Americans impose upon the rest of us.