Fingers crossed

How well I remember this day four years ago! I was at work in my old, shitty job, sitting across the way from an English traveller doing some temp work with us. Her name was Katie, she was an attractive and intelligent blonde from the south of England, and we’d become friendly in the month preceding.

Like the rest of the world, we were all fascinated by the American election, and like the rest of the world, we fully expect that the buffoon Donald Trump would be knocked off by Hilary.

That was all the conversation through the morning, though pretty much in a general way. Because I was working, I had my browser open to a page tracking the results as they came in. By early afternoon, results were coming in counter to expectation. I watched, I listened to the analysts and comforted myself that they were early numbers and they would swing the other way as the day went on.

But it kept happening, to the point that later results were shoring up the early results. I was consumed by it by now, and much of the floor had got wind of a potential shock, and it went through it like a charge of electricity – and I’m sure it was the same across hundreds of other workplaces.

By now, I was on tenterhooks. I was urging the results to switch-back before it was too late. I was giving constant updates to Katie through the afternoon and engaging in long, surprised, political discussions. Around 3 pm, I think it became clear that no matter what came next that Trump would become president.

There was a state of shock at that, as if the known world had upended – I don’t need to tell anyone what it felt like. There was a numbness, not knowing what would come next.

We now know what came next, and it wasn’t good. America, and the world, can’t afford another four years of this man. It would end America as we know it, and the flow-on effects to the world in general disastrous,

I expect Trump to lose, but I’m wary. There are just too many variables. Hilary Clinton won the popular vote clearly last time, but still lost because of the dodgy electoral college. Even so, had more people bothered to vote on the day she would have won.

It appears the American electorate has been energised since, and so they should be. There are predictions of record voter turn-outs, and that should favour Biden. But then there’s the electoral college, which is a diabolical construct. It’s ridiculous that the whole election might ride on a few key states because they’re disproportionately represented.

On balance, I think Biden should win easily – but I’ll guess we’ll find out. Today, four years on, I’m sitting at my desk at home, with CNN on in the background. Give it a few hours, and we should know if it’s to celebrate or commiserate.

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