For many observers here in the UK, Brexit has been so all-consuming that the American Presidential election has been at times little more than a darkly comedic side show in which the twists and turns have been greeted with wry humour and, more recently, disbelief. This week, the US election ceases to be a grim reality TV show, and becomes very real indeed.
For all the vitriol, the high-theatre and low politicking, by Wednesday morning GMT there will be a President Elect of the United States. The 45th President will have a profound impact on the national and global agenda for at least the next four years. Whoever it is, America’s next President will be the leader of the free world. In the United Kingdom, much of the focus in the build-up to the campaign has been on what a Clinton or Trump Presidency will mean for the UK-US bilateral relationship in a post-Brexit world.
While Hillary Clinton was quick to second President Obama in warning against a Brexit vote, her campaign has stressed that Transatlantic cooperation is essential. Donald Trump’s warm embrace of Brexit suggests he might consider putting the other half of the special relationship to the ‘front of the queue’. But his scathing criticism of existing and proposed free trade agreements – including the threat to pull the US out of NAFTA – means he cannot be relied upon to deliver trade liberalisation. In a campaign that has touched so many unpredictable fringes of the American political spectrum, it is now taken as read that free trade is under threat whomever gets the keys to the White House.
In the long-term there is much to consider, chiefly, the eventual winner’s choice to the vacant Supreme Court seat. The colour of the 115th Congress will be determined in the ‘down ballot’ races and the majority is up for grabs in the Senate. Currently in Republican control, the upper chamber will have an important say in the amount of policy the new President can successfully manoeuvre through Congress. In the short-term though, the world will be met with a fresh administration at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As with any changing of the guard, political engagement will be key.
While polling continues to suggest a win for Clinton, for a punditry shocked by Brexit – and the success of insurgent candidates in democracies all over the world – there is an acceptance that the unexpected can and does happen in politics. On Wednesday, we’ll know if there has been another American Revolution.
To read Cicero’s full guide to the US Elections, please click here.
For live updates throughout election night, follow @CiceroElections on Twitter.