Forget the polls, ignore the experts and buckle up your seatbelts because Donald Trump is going to shock the world in just a few days.
The year before Donald Trump was first elected, I was lucky enough to take a meandering trip through the United States over several months.
My wife and I had rented a car, which we put through its paces as we traversed a nation we thought we’d learned so much about through films, books and popular music.
While the timeless landscape of its great mountains, canyons and deserts were forever etched into my brain, one moment altered my perception of the States and it plays increasingly heavily on my mind at this critical juncture in history, five years later.
It took place while I was sitting in a dive bar in Philadelphia where, unlike Aussie pubs where we sit with the mob we came in with, everyone was perched along the bar — fuelling drunken conversation between strangers.
I pulled a tall stool up, ordered a Pabst Blue Ribbon and – as seemed obligatory in the States – sparked up a conversation with the fella sitting next to me.
We talked about my trip, where I was from and a bit about what there was to see and do in Philly aside from eating cheesesteaks.
His sentences were punctuated with slurred words and yelling, but that was by no means unusual in an American bar. He seemed like a decent, hardworking bloke letting off some steam on a Friday night.
That was until we hit the subject of politics.
I still remember the hot smell of booze on his breath as he leaned over, attempting to dip his voice slightly, and told me he was planning a trip to Washington DC with a stepladder and his rifle.
His plan was to lean the ladder up against the walls of the White House and shoot Barack Obama as he slept.
“Bang! Bang!” he yelled as he cocked his finger and stared into my eyes.
At first I thought it was all a dark joke to scare the gullible tourist, I laughed nervously, but I could soon tell he was fair dinkum.
It was from that moment I came to notice how Americans, so often accepting and convivial when talking about anything else, became bitter and angry when it came to politics.
Driving through the nation’s heartland, I lost count of the bumper stickers screeching out conspiratorial claims about healthcare, communism and nefarious plans to remove the nation’s sacred Second Amendment.
In the cities of the west coast, I saw extreme poverty that was easily on par with third world nations, with streets choked with crowds of homeless people, needles and human excrement strewn across pavements, and clusters of tents building up in even the most gentrified areas.
The appalling pay and conditions endured by those lucky enough to find work became clear just by stopping to pick up a coffee at a highway Dunkin’ Donuts.
I got talking to a bloke in his early 20s behind the counter at a rural midwest store. We talked about the trip I was taking and he said he dreamt one day of being able to travel interstate, but that it was probably never going to happen.
For a nation where it costs next to nothing to rent a car, you can fill it up for $20 and stay at a motel almost anywhere for $30, it was depressing to hear someone in the prime of their life believing they were never going to be able to afford or be given the time off to be able to take a quick trip to another state.
It was clear that the “hope” promised by Obama in 2009 had not materialised in any meaningful form for many Americans.
They were broken and let down by a political system that had clearly failed them generation after generation.
It was not long after I’d flown to my former home in the north of England, that Donald Trump revealed he was running for President.
In the immediate aftermath of the announcement I, like everybody else, thought it was a joke. But once it was clear he was serious, he was selected in the primaries and I had reflected on what I had seen in the States, it was obvious to me that he would win.
Almost everyone I had spoken to in the real world as a reporter in the depressed former mining town where I lived – far from the vacuous echo chambers of social media – told me they were voting Leave.
They weren’t racists or bad people. They were just desperate, poor and crying out for some sort of change.
I could see the same thing happening across the Atlantic months later, when Hillary Clinton incredibly labelled anyone who voted for Trump as “deplorable”.
From that moment, it should have been obvious Clinton would lose, but somehow the mainstream media journalists and experts – who appeared as if they’d never met a working class person in their lives – said it was a shoe-in for the Democrat.
Four years later, it is as if history is repeating itself and everybody in the media has forgotten how stupid they looked last time.
Polls have been proven time and time again to be wrong. In Australia we saw that with Scott Morrison’s “Quiet Australians” and Labor losing the “unlosable election”. But, incredibly the media runs stories as if Joe Biden has already won.
Trump never turned out to be the Second Coming of Adolf Hitler that his critics predicted he’d become, but he has certainly not been the answer to the disturbing problems that plague everyday life in America.
Its citizens deserve better. But, instead of a party that used the past four years to look at all of these problems and come up with nation-building solutions, they got four years of the Democrats spitting their dummy out.
Instead of taking a look in the mirror and reflecting on how they lost the working class vote, they spent almost half a decade blaming everyone else but themselves.
Instead of accepting what happened in 2016 and moving on, they attempted to delegitimise the election results and remove Trump from office by every pathetic means possible.
Instead of finding an alternative to Trump with new ideas, a vision for the future and a promise of real change, Americans got Obama’s 77-year-old support act Joe Biden, who seems to have trouble stringing a sentence together.
His only hope of winning stems from the nation’s descent into coronavirus chaos, which the Democrats and the majority of the media will portray as Trump’s fault single-handedly.
In lieu of actual ideas to help its citizens, the misery of Americans will be milked for all its worth and the strategy may just work. But make no mistake, if the pandemic never happened Trump would have won by a landslide.
I was certain about the 2016 election and Brexit, this time I’m only quietly confident he’ll do it again this time by the narrowest of margins.
God help America.