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Sunday, May 19, 2024

The most agonizing wait in US history

by Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

© Shutterstock

The 20th of January 2017 will witness the birth of the most influential person on earth, an individual chosen by American voters to be their new President, Commander-in- Chief and Leader of the Free World. The air is filled with excitement but also with dread in equal measure.

The gestation period has been and is almost as long as an elephant’s and understandably so when this newborn will have access to the nuclear button, command over the planet’s most powerful military and control over the largest economy whose ripples are capable of making or breaking others.

With eight months to go until the results are announced on the 5th January 2017, the world is pregnant with anticipation; more so this time because we live in one of the most tumultuous and violent eras in living history, fraught with conflicts, terrorism, burgeoning racism, global warming and social deviations now accepted – and even celebrated – as the norm.

The Doomsday Clock is ticking closer to midnight and some American religious leaders believe we are edging close to the Day of Judgment. Only the Creator in His wisdom knows when that day will come but Islam gives us 50 major and minor signs. These include the death of scholars, the prevailing of ignorance and the loss of trustworthiness when authority is given to people who do not deserve it.

At this crucial moment in time, America’s leadership and guidance are essential to maintain global security and stability. The US and the world needs a strong yet steady hand; someone willing to heal divisions within, battle against poverty and work in partnership with other nations to combat threats.

Washington has been bereft of such a leader since the United States’ 42nd President Bill Clinton, who cultivated good relationships, created 10 million jobs and succeeded in turning his country’s deficit into a surplus. On the other hand, his successor George W. Bush squandered that surplus on wars of choice while President Barack Obama has been a divisive figure accused of leading from behind.

In essence, America, which has rarely been this politically and socially polarized, is in dire need of a unifier with the ability to coalesce the nation behind those values upon which America was founded, values which are in danger of being eroded by xenophobia combined with a misguided sense of nationalism, actively fuelled by one of these embryonic presidential hopefuls. The fear is that relationships between nations nurtured over centuries may be irrevocably destroyed or damaged.

The parents of the one to be anointed are the 240 million Americans with the right to vote. The birth of a president rests in their hands. Will their combined DNA produce a saviour who will lead us into a new age of peace and prosperity or an egotistical ignoramus demonically stoking the fires of hatred, violence and discrimination bringing our planet close to ruination?

They have had ample time to study the ultrasound scans; they have x-rayed the qualities and faults of all three in the running but, unfortunately, the most likeable of the trio is being pushed aside by an unfair pre-natal system whereby nominees are tapped by party delegates rather than by popular vote.


The endgame is likely to be a contest between two lacking personal likeability or so polls suggest. To believe a saviour will emerge is, sadly, a stretch of the imagination at this stage, but as long as the one loose cannon is taken out of the picture, there is room for optimism.

Whoever wears the Oval Office crown will bring their imperfections to the table. Nevertheless, it is hoped that once in office, he or she will rise to the occasion or failing which will be deterred by the other arms of government as well as cabinet members and advisers from taking unwise steps. That is one of the main advantages of democracy. No single person holds all the cards.

Apart from my global concerns about America’s choice, I wish the best for the American people, many of whom rank among my closest friends. I am full of admiration for all that the United States has achieved in just about all fields and am grateful for its many gifts. Americans are rightly proud of their country and their flag and it is little wonder so many clamour to be part of what has been a magnificent inspirational success story.

America remains a multi-ethnic, multi-religious beacon of light for the dispossessed and the disenfranchised. It is an open society encouraging self-expression and self-fulfillment. God forbid it will ever transform into a forbidding fortress surrounded by high walls. Americans, please do not be tempted to stray from the well-trodden path that has always served you well! Do not be lured by false promises! Refuse to become victims of fear-based politics! Stay true to yourselves and your love for each other, no matter of colour or creed. There is one thing that binds you all – your love for your great country. For these reasons and more, I pray that next January we will discover it is a girl.

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