There are eleven days left. The American Presidential campaign reaches its climax on Tuesday, November 8. There are polls and more polls and every one of them points to a wide-margin victory for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The first American Presidential election I saw was in 1976. It was a policy-oriented duel and the two candidates, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, were civil to each other. Over a period of time, America has become polarized. This polarization has led to policy differences acquire criminal overtones.
The 2016 campaign has been a mud-throwing contest. Insults and anger-filled language have been the order of the day. It is a development that gives the American electoral process a bad name.
Donald Trump was an outsider when he announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015. He realized that there was a vast segment of the electorate that felt disconnected with the ruling elite. He made adroit use of xenophobic feelings. He made negative comments on the campaign trail and got a lot of media attention that was not paid for.
Hillary Clinton has been on the defensive in recent weeks. Not a single day has passed since early October without a revelation coming out of a leaked email. The use of a private server to conduct State Department business has hurt Mrs Clinton but it is an issue that a run-of-the-mill does not readily relate to. The affairs of the Clinton Fountain continue to be scrutinized.
Donald Trump’s lack of political discipline and his inability to stay on message have been the hallmarks of his campaign. His use of unsavory language has put him in unfavorable light. Since the Republican convention in July, Mr Trump has been on an inexorable slide.
Mr Trump, facing a humiliating loss, has been talking about a ‘rigged’ election. His surrogates have been advancing the idea. It was Mr Trump who kept the ‘birther’ controversy front and center by repeatedly saying that President Obama was not born in America. The ‘rigged’ election argument provides Mr Trump an opening to say that he lost in an ‘unfair’ contest. The problem is that, in the eyes of Trump’s supporters, a Hillary Clinton victory would not be legitimate. This is the game Donald Trump is playing. The Republican establishment, though fully aware of the negative implications of Trump’s ‘rigged’ election idea, is unable to rein him in. He has become the lone wolf.
The American tradition calls for the loser to concede the election to the winner. Mr Trump has refused to follow this time-honored practice. Are American elections manipulated? There are stray cases of voter fraud but it makes no sense to use a broad brush to call the entire process ‘rigged.’
What will happen on November 8 is clear. What may happen on November 9 is a mystery. Will Trump show grace and admit that he lost or will he question the legitimacy of Hilary’s victory and open the Pandora’s box?