America will vote in its general election this Tuesday, and it is possible that the preliminary results will be available by midday on Wednesday in Beijing. This year's election is undoubtedly the most sensational election there has been in a long time, and the closer we get to its final moments, the more unclear it all seems. Its result will probably have a profound impact and will affect many people around the world. There are only two days left of the election, and opinion polls indicate support levels between the two candidates are closer than ever before - various opinion polls show that Clinton leads by just 1 to 3 percentage points. At the moment, it still seems more likely that Clinton will win; however, there is still enough uncertainty to make her and her community of elite supporters fretful and restless.

If Clinton only beats Trump by a narrow margin, she will gain power, but the political result of her victory will largely be of less value than anticipated; Trump will go down fighting, and he will be entitled to say that he was unfairly pushed aside by the unjust American media, while criticizing the election for being “rigged.” Whether or not American society will recover after the election will largely depends on Trump’s attitude because if he has a mind to continue, he will be capable of doing that. If Trump wins, it will cause a massive political earthquake in America. He has been labeled as sinister in fierce attacks by the American elite, and his victory would overturn the traditional values of American politics and the American system and American society will, unusually, be put to the test on whether it is able to facilitate a soft landing.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, America is unlikely to cease being a superpower and it is likely able to bear any resulting crisis. However, America’s soft power has already been unavoidably weakened by this election. It has fully exposed the real problems within the American political system, as well as the issue that Americans can also clearly see these problems and yet are powerless to resolve them. Through this election, people have seen the hypocrisy of America’s top politicians in their willingness to tear down their opponents by fair means or by foul. This way of selecting a leader has become alienating; even the American Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed that this election has been “difficult for our country’s perception abroad” and has been “embarrassing.”* 80 percent of American participants in a survey said they “felt disgusted” by the behavior of the two candidates.**

Will America really be heading for reform after this election? That’s going to be quite difficult. The trend in the whole of the Western world is that their leaders are becoming weaker and weaker, while the people are becoming stronger. In the West there is seldom a leader who is elected by an overwhelming majority - the leaders lack the boldness, the decisiveness and the authority to push for reform. Trump is a loudmouth who is only capable of foolishly shouting; ultimately, he is destructive, not an initiator of strength. If he gets the chance to enter the White House, he will very quickly go from being a tiger to a pussycat, from a grape to a raisin.

Put simply, Western voters are accustomed to living comfortable lives; they select leaders who will help them live even cozier lives and they don’t select those who will elevate them and make a difference. For this reason they are forced to bear the labor pains of reformist leaders. Western society is calling out for reform, too, but everyone believes that other people should be the ones to action that change, and yet there is no reform that would be able to change their own thoughts in their own heads. Thus, this election has uncovered some scars in the American form of government, and this has shocked people, but the rate at which this shock is able to effect positive change is expected to be very low. American society will probably accept these shocks out of laziness; what is most likely is that these shocks will be dealt with passively, they will be left to run their course, a stitch will be made here and there to patch things up, and everybody will continue as normal.

America is very fortunate to have been a developed country early on, and many factors, including geographical factors, have seen it become the largest developed Western nation. But its dominance is gradually wearing out, problems are beginning to surface, and yet the culmination of its achievements together with its correlating dominant status support the continuation of a national self-confidence, which means that it can continue to ignore problems that, to some outsiders, appear very serious. But its surfacing problems continue to be seen just as clearly. Differences of opinion are allowed, and this week America will attract the majority of global attention and public opinion, but this is no longer due to it playing a “positive role” - the applause has become sparse and fragmentary, and the boos and jeers can be heard from all directions.

*Editor's note: Though accurately translated, this quote has not been verified.

**Editor's note: Though accurately translated, this has not been verified.