With a little luck and a lot of diligent counting, by this time tomorrow evening, one way or the other, we will be looking at a completely different America and, by extension, perhaps even a different world. First, however, we have to get through the painfully tedious task of counting all those ballots. I expect it will be as long and complicated as the 2000 contest, where the whole world finally understood, in minute detail, exactly how undemocratic our electoral system really is.
For those who don’t remember (in case you’re reading this 20 years from now or something), in November 2000, the American people discovered their individual votes didn’t matter nearly as much as the voice of a select, privileged few who actually cast the votes. These are the members of the “Electoral College“, a double oxymoron if I ever heard one, who are not even bound to vote as the people they represent do. So far, it appears they always have, but the fact is, they don’t have to.
All that aside, the most important thing is this: this has been a compelling, mesmerizing, long, expensive, draining, and puzzling presidential campaign. It has been historic in a number of ways with which we are all familiar:
- The first Black (or “African-American”) presidential nominee in U.S. history (never mind that he is actually bi-racial, both white and black – the fact that his skin is “black” is sufficient)
- The oldest presidential candidate ever
- The first female candidate with even a passing chance at her party’s nomination
- The dumbest female vice presidential candidate ever (I’m sorry Sarah Palin, I wanted to like you and would have considered rooting for you whenever you decided to run on your own, but dang you’re dumb!)
No matter who wins, the world will never be the same. Should Barack Obama win, some of the changes are obvious: for one thing, for the first time the world will know Black people can be chosen to lead even in white countries, not just in places like Africa or Haiti. Barack Obama is so loved in the world, Brazilian politicians are actually adopting his name as their own. He is charismatic, worldly, well-traveled, and apparently determined to move away from a Presidential model that has made us in turn the laughing stock of the world, then feared, then hated, and finally almost despised.
Speaking of the current President, I don’t remember an electoral campaign where the sitting President was so inconspicuous. George W. Bush’s presidency, his legacy, is so torn, tattered and tarnished that John McCain has had to distance himself completely from him. Even Al Gore made use of his former running mate, despite a Republican-fueled witch hunt into Clinton’s private business (this hunt, by the way, also made us the laughing stock of the world).
On the other hand, should John McCain win, I expect ugly ideas will raise their heads: racism, political dishonesty (yes, I know, it seems redundant to mention both words in one phrase), voting fraud, did I mention racism?
Actually, no matter who wins, I expect racism to rear its ugly head. Although we like to pretend otherwise, it is very much alive and well in certain parts of the country. I’ve read Craiglist Atlanta, and it is very ugly.
In 24 hours, we hope for it all to be over. Of course, just like the last two elections, it’s unlikely to be clean and neat and finito, but one can hope.