Nothing quite exemplifies US President Donald Trump’s attitude towards his fanatical followers as what happened to them in Nebraska on Tuesday night.
After a well-attended campaign rally at Omaha Airport in frigid weather, Mr Trump hopped onto Air Force 1 and took off, leaving thousands stranded six kilometres away from where they had left their cars.
Many had to walk in the freezing cold and a number were struck by hypothermia. Apparently, nobody gave a whit about how these people, who had been bussed to the venue, went back home.
Had any other presidential candidate behaved in such a callous manner at any other time, it would have perhaps cost them the state’s votes and perhaps the entire election. But not Donald Trump.
Such is the mystique of the man that he may not only win the state with a handsome margin, he may even get more admirers. One thing is clear: President Trump is a phenomenon – in a negative sense – the likes of which Americans have never seen, and perhaps won’t see in a long time to come.
To the rest of the world, except perhaps the Russians, that Mr Trump can win a second term is unthinkable. But it may happen all the same, which explains why, although his opponent Mr Joe Biden has been leading in most national opinion polls throughout the year, many pundits, especially those in the Democratic Party, are so cagey about making any definite predictions one way or the other. They have a reason to be.
When he defeated Hillary Clinton for the White House despite losing by almost three million votes in the popular vote back in 2016, many people were shocked. Mrs Clinton had been leading in the opinion polls for most of the election year, only to be upset when Mr Trump carried the majority of the delegates.
It was as though two marathon runners were unevenly matched for 42 kilometres, only for the laggard to outpace the front-runner in the last minute. Few outsiders could understand what happened, but then again, very few non-Americans really comprehend its electoral system, which is peculiar and inherently unfair.
Three days to the election, the consensus is that the victory is Mr Biden’s. It could come in the form of a landslide, in which case he will sweep both the popular vote and attain the requisite number of delegates – 270. To many Americans – both Democrats and turncoat Republicans –that would be the most desirable outcome. But Mr Trump hopes to replicate the 2016 upset and will do anything to that end.
He has already declared that if he loses, it will be because the Democrats rigged, setting the grounds for litigation all the way to the Supreme Court, which he has already packed with conservative judges who are expected to be sympathetic to his cause.
Indeed, it has even been speculated that the man has no intention of conceding defeat if the Democrats win by a narrow margin, and some people even speculate he may not be averse to some form of post-election violence between his fanatical right-wing fringe and the “radical left”.
However, this likelihood is a little far-fetched – governance institutions in the United States are too strong to allow such an outcome. But if the elections outcome will be left in any sort of doubt, then Americans will be in for very interesting times indeed.
Those of us who are not in any way invested in what happens in that country should clearly proclaim: Mr Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States; the 45th was an aberration that Americans of all political persuasions will not forget in a hurry. But, of course, it won’t matter in the least what the rest of the world says or thinks.
If, by any chance, the Americans want to re-elect a man who has proved to be an overt racist, misogynist and crafty tax dodger, it is their shauri. If they feel comfortable with a narcissist whose mind-boggling ineptitude has led to the avoidable deaths of more than 230,000 Americans from Covid-19 in 10 months, then they probably deserve what they get. If they feel they must re-elect a man who appears to live in a world of his own – that of alternative truth– they are welcome.
But then never again should Americans dare to judge how the rest of the world conducts its affairs, its elections or its geopolitical relationships. In four short years, the US has gradually slid from being the sole superpower to a laughing stock.
The strange thing is, from an outside view, the Americans are not so much voting for Joe Biden whose message delivery remains wooden and uninspiring; they will be voting against Mr Trump, who has turned out to be so clueless in governance that anyone else would be preferable.
That cannot be a vote of confidence in the man, but as he himself would say, let us see what happens on November 3.