On November 3 the American voters had gone to the polling booths to choose their next president. Should the incumbent, Donald Trump, continue in office or be replaced by his contestant, Joe Biden? Americans and the world at large had been waiting with bated breath for the last few days to know who is going to have the last laugh.
Though the Democratic challenger for US presidency Joe Biden was ahead with millions of more popular votes in his favour than those of the incumbent Donald Trump, uncertainties reigned as the vote counting progressed. As the number of electoral votes that a candidate wins determines the winner, not the number of votes cast directly by the voters, it all hinged on the outcomes of electoral vote counts in the states, especially in those called swing or battleground states. That is so because in the US electoral map, most regions are clearly demarcated by their party following-the Democrat or the Republican-- except a few. Those few are the so-called swing or battleground states.So ultimately, winning the swing states is crucial to winning the election.
The vote counting took days as there were a large number of mailed-in ballots. Due to the pandemic, there were more mailed-in votes in this US election than in any other time in the past. The atmosphere was tense as the fate of a contestant rested on his getting the requisite 'magic number' of 270 electoral votes out of a total of 538.
As counting went on, it increasingly became clear that the Democratic contender Joe Biden was going to take the key states including Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
He did and won the election.Now he will be taking charge of an America that is highly polarised.
Looking at the unprecedented voter turnout on the election day, it appeared to the Americans, November 3 was not a usual election day. Normally, Americans do not participate at such a massive scale in elections as they did this time. It was something unique in US history. The number of votes cast is the highest ever. It was like a referendum to decide an issue that was existential for the nation. Small wonder that the election looked more like a war between the Democrats and the Republicans. To many from the developing nations, there was a strong feeling of déjà vu about the entire electoral scene. The same jingoistic political rhetoric, allegations of irregularities in the conduct of the election, lack of trust in the electoral process and institutions, absence of any semblance of decency in the language and manner of a contender and his supporters. The same denials and lies without end. Worse, there is still the fear if the transfer of power would finally take place peacefully! This is something new in a democratic heartland of the Western civilisation!
However, American society and politics is not a stranger to such bickering.
America had a divided past with the Unionist, anti-slavery North on the one side and the pro-slavery Confederate South, on the other. They fought a four-year civil war (1861-1865) to settle the dispute. And then they built one of the greatest modern nations in the world. But as in every people's history, some wounds do not easily heal. Some issues get buried for a time, but do not die out altogether.
Demagogues are apt at reopening old wounds. Donald Trump like many rabble-rousers in Asia, Africa and lately in Europe did that. With his cheap, subversive political rhetoric, he could successfully pander to the irrational recesses of human psyche, especially of the deprived, disgruntled people whose problems establishment politics did so far fail to address. But Trump led them up the garden path.
Being the president of the world's most powerful, most influential nation, his words and actions left a corrupting influence at home and abroad. But Americans have finally decided. And they have shown him the door.