“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else”. This quote by the UK’s Winston Churchill kicks off what is my first, and hopefully, only, article dedicated to the election of the United States’ 45th president. If you’re reading this article, and you don’t know that today, 8 November 2016, is the grand finale of the US presidential election season, on behalf of fellow earthlings, I accept your renouncement of your membership of the earth. In essence, even the virgin snow in Antarctica knows that today is all about America.
“Like play, like play” is the nearest Nigerian expression to illustrate this election season. On the Democratic side, the primaries were expected to be a walk over for the lords’ anointed, Hillary Clinton, erstwhile runner up to the calm Barack Obama. With her strong showing in the 2008 primaries and performance as Obama’s secretary of state, the odds were that the democratic ticket was hers to pick. Then Bernie Sanders came on stage to mount a passionate effort. Whatever happened with the Sanders’ effort plus allegations of official unfairness are now issues in the past. Hillary clinched the democratic ticket, finally smashing the proverbial glass ceiling she had cracked in 2008.
On the republican front, with the spotlight on serious politicians like Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and others, plus newbies like Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, used his famed “small hands” to throw his hat into the ring. Trump’s entrance was so unbelievable that a media outlet like the Huffington Post announced that stories concerning Trump’s campaign would be in its entertainment segment. Trump was expected to be a passing fad, and some even some him as a loser who would potentially run as an independent and split the republican vote. To avoid this, the republicans got all aspirants to pledge loyalty to “whoever” would win the ticket. Alas, Trump won.
Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump has turned out to be the most charged campaign in US history. Beyond the outpouring of emotions, drama and flip-flops that trailed the candidates, this election has proven once again that when the US sneezes, the world shakes. This election isn’t just about choosing the next American president. It’s about choosing the world’s de facto leader. Forget about the UN secretary general. POTUS runs the show around the world.
From New York to London, Mosul to Lagos, Beijing to Brussels, the influence of the US president is unmatched. The next president would preside over a fast-growing global population, with expanding inequalities in many societies. This person would provide input into the fight against terrorism, facing the infamous mascot, ISIL. This person would interface with other leaders on the new sustainable development goals. On the other hand, this person would sit at the head of American imperialism. Young Obama’s dark hair turned white during his presidency. With Hillary and Clinton being senior citizens, only time would tell the impact of the next four or eight years on the health of whoever wins this charged bout.
Coming to Nigeria, this US election has produced an army of pundits. Some Nigerians who expressed indifference during the 2015 general elections now discuss US politics as faux US-born citizens. Some friends of mine call themselves “externally displaced citizens”, having their eyes on relocating to God’s own country. One doesn’t even need to have hope for an American green card to have interest in the elections. The simple fact that it is America makes people interested. Hence, some of us have had to endure hours of arguments in chat groups and offline on the suitability of the candidates and the “rig-ability” of the elections.
On the other hand, we have some people who complain about the “needless” interest given to the US election. These ones cannot bring themselves to understand why Nigerians would have so much interest in elections holding halfway across the world, especially when they believe that regardless of whoever wins the elections, Nigeria’s lot would not change. While I may agree that some people are “over doing” the discourse on the elections, I think it’s understandable. For example, the interest rate set by the US federal reserve directly and indirectly affects the inflow of investor funds into government bonds and businesses in Nigeria. This is just one of the ways the US’ influence is felt in Nigeria.
Voting is ongoing across different US territories. Some have already voted in states having early balloting. Whoever the legal Americans choose, willingly or unwillingly, or if the conspiracy theorists are to be believed, is chosen for them, he or she better be ready for the huge task ahead. The US may be the world’s top super power, but if certain trends are to continue, that role would see serious challenges from some other power seekers. Whatever may be, all hail our next president.
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