AMERICA'S pundits and politicians are calling it ‘the most important election of our lifetimes'.
And while they say that every four years, look at the stakes in 2020 – the prevailing health crisis, the bitter divisions in America, and the tumultuous leadership of President Donald J Trump.
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Today’s election does feel like a crunch moment for the most powerful country on Earth.
Will America take the red pill and re-elect Trump for four more years of crazy?
Or opt for the more soporific blue pill that is Joe Biden, formerly Barack Obama’s vice-president?
The result will have huge consequences for America, Britain and the world.
'Trump is loved almost as much as he is hated'
The polls have long suggested that Biden will win. Almost nobody trusts the polls.
Yes, a majority of Americans are exhausted by Trump’s wild leadership and want some normality. But very few are excited by the thought of a Joe Biden presidency.
He’s an old career politician who has been getting major decisions wrong for decades. The best reason to vote for him is simply that he isn’t Donald Trump.
But Trump is loved almost as much as he is hated. He has enthusiasm. His secret weapon is what he calls his ‘hidden power’ – the millions of Americans who either shun or lie to pollsters.
These voters swung the election for Trump in 2016. They might just do so again.
'America is anticipating carnage'
If Trump does win, expect chaos. Remember how upset people were when Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016? Quadruple that.
The Democrats won't accept defeat again. They will contest the result and accuse the President of having cheated. Clinton herself has urged Biden not to concede on the night ‘under any circumstances’.
In cities across America, shops are boarding up their windows in anticipation of carnage. ‘Antifa’ militants secretly want a Trump win, so they can start a massive riot orgy.
If the result is too close to call, expect more chaos.
The Trump and Biden campaigns have sent teams of lawyers into battleground states to challenge counts they don’t like.
Some states don’t stop counting mail-in votes until several days after the election, which could mean an agonising wait in critical places such as Pennsylvania or North Carolina.
The whole result could turn on vicious legal knife fights in tight regions. On left and right, conspiracy theories about voter fraud will super-spread. Anger may well spill over into more violence.
'American democracy could burn'
Back in 2000 the election was not decided until December 13, when Al Gore finally conceded to George W Bush, after the Supreme Court ruled against him in the infamous fight over ‘hanging chads’ – uncounted ballots – in Florida.
A contested election in 2020 could be even more confusing.
If Biden wins in this scenario, Trump may well refuse to accept the result. Whether he refuses to leave the White House is another question.
If Trump somehow ekes out a narrow win, take the rage factor from 2016, quadruple it and then times it by ten. American democracy could burn.
A clear Biden victory, then, would be the least stressful outcome for everyone – in the short term anyhow. The Trump-hating media will declare that America can now heal.
Trumpists will be angry and upset, but less likely to incite violence on the streets – even if they do possess a lot more guns. Trump voters don’t tend to live in big cities. They are also not nearly as aggressive as the media makes out.
The idea that a beaten Trump would try to turn into a military dictator if he is clearly defeated is probably left-wing fantasy.
A victorious Biden would try to say all the right words about bringing the country together. What President Trump might say, win or lose, is anyone’s guess.
But the idea that a beaten Trump would try to turn into a military dictator if he is clearly defeated is probably left-wing fantasy.
He might wind everyone up by suggesting the election was rigged. Or he might surprise everyone by showing grace in defeat. He’s endlessly unpredictable.
'Boris Johnson’s government is surprisingly pro-Biden'
An incoming Biden administration would be easier to read.
American government would default to pre-Trump settings. Team Obama would set about undoing Team Trump’s foreign policy achievements.
Obama’s Iran deal would be revived; the international trade agreements Trump so rudely junked would be restored. The political class would be back, baby.
That could be bad news for Brexit Britain.
Team Obama-Biden famously opposed our departure from the European Union, warning us we would end up at the ‘back of the queue’ in future trade talks.
In as much as he thinks about it at all, Biden regards Brexit as a mistake almost as foolish as America’s decision to elect Donald Trump. As President, he would instinctively side with the European Union in any trade disagreements.
But Boris Johnson’s government is surprisingly pro-Biden. They’ve found Trump frustrating. He talks a lot of hot air.
The ‘beautiful’ US-UK trade deal that he once promised is not much closer today than it was in 2016.
Besides, the political class in Westminster is just more comfortable working with Democrats than the wild characters of the Trump administration.
For the transatlantic establishment, the blue-pill is just easier to swallow. How the American people feel, we are about to find out.
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