Hopefully, within the next few days we will know who will be the next President of the United States - will former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden finally get his bum on the hottest political seat in the world, or will The Donald - aka Donald Trump - pull another Republican Party rabbit out of the hat and secure a second term as the most powerful elected leader in the globe.
For the loyalist community in Northern Ireland, the Republicans’ candidate Trump is the natural choice as the traditionally Right-wing American Republican Party has always been more sympathetic politically towards the pro-Union cause in Ulster.
Practically every American President has tried to find some Irish roots to woo the Irish American lobby (one of the most powerful lobbies in US politics along with the Jewish, Afro-American, Arab and gun lobbies) as Irish voters can decide the direction of the Presidency.
This will be true in 2020 as this will be no landslide which former US President Ronald Reagan enjoyed in 1984 when he clinched 49 of the 50 states. If the polls are accurate, this could be ‘nip and tuck’ for the next President with only a handful of so-called swing states along with voter turnout deciding the final outcome.
But how many times have we seen the phrase - ‘the polls have got it wrong.’ American voters are a law unto themselves. The problem which non-American commentators like myself face is that we try to second-guess the outcome based on our coverage of elections in the UK and Ireland.
We can make the mistake of thinking that given the power of the Irish American lobby and the number of times US Presidents and other American politicians have visited the Emerald Isle, north and south, that that gives us a clear insight into the thinking of the overall US electorate.
Another traditional observation is that the naturally Left-leaning American Democratic Party would naturally favour Irish unity. American Republicans are focusing on branding Biden as being too socialist; American Democrats are putting their eggs in the Covid 19 political basket and how Trump has handled that crisis.
But what Ulster loyalists, indeed, the entire pro-Union community, has got to ask - forget party allegiances; which candidate - Trump or Biden - would be best for Northern Ireland as we cope with the pandemic economy and a rapidly looming post Brexit society in 2021?
Put bluntly, would a Biden victory or a Trump triumph be best for the Union? The Trump campaign is all about making America great again - but at what price trading with other nations? Would a second Trump term be beneficial to the Northern Ireland economy in a post Brexit financial market?
If Biden’s Vice Presidency under the Obama regime from 2009-17 is taken as a benchmark, he will want to remain as much as possible in the United States focussing primarily on an internal economic rebuilding programme to combat the effects of the pandemic and politically locking horns with the influential gun lobby.
In short, helping the Northern Ireland economy will be dumped at the bottom of Biden’s ‘to do’ list for the next four years.
Trump in his past life as a global businessman has already expressed a keen interest in Northern Ireland, and especially the North Antrim constituency in particular.
Could this interest be rekindled constructively in terms of jobs under a second Trump term? Then again, what benefits flowed to Northern Ireland from the initial Trump Presidency?
The bitter reality which the pro-Union community must face is that electorally Unionism is no longer the majority ideology in Northern Ireland, so Unionists must enter the ‘persuasion game’ big time!
Is there the possibility that a Biden Presidency could be persuaded to invest more in the island of Ireland as a whole and the knock-on effect would benefit Northern Ireland?
After all, given the historic partnership in forming a Fianna Fail/Fine Gael coalition government in the Dail to keep out Sinn Fein, could that partnership attitude be extended to the Irish American lobby in the United States to stifle the influence of Sinn Fein among Irish Americans?
In the past, the pro-Union community voiced concern about the vast amounts of American dollars flowing into fund-raising organisations which were openly sympathetic to the republican movement. Put bluntly, how many IRA guns were purchased with American dollars?
But since Sinn Fein has been slowly sucked into the Northern Ireland democratic process, has the republican movement effectively lost the so-called ‘Battle of the Dollar’ to moderate nationalism?
Perhaps the time has come for the Ulster Scots lobby in America to develop some political muscle to flex. The Kennedy clan no longer has the family political influence it once mustered within the Democratic Party as JFK and his brothers Bobby and Ted are now merely significant names in history books.
The Protestant Unionist Loyalist (PUL) community in Northern Ireland needs to start boxing clever when it comes to American politics rather than merely relying on the perception that a Republican President automatically means a secure Union and Ulster’s place within the UK is guaranteed.
No matter who is the eventual winner in tomorrow’s vote, the Ulster Scots lobby in the United States needs to form a coalition with the National Rifle Association, one of the most powerful lobby groups in North America.
The establishment parties’ snub to Sinn Fein in Dublin’s Leinster House must be capitalised on by the pro-Union community by developing an Ulster Scots/NRA alliance simply because Sinn Fein’s influence on the White House is now perceived to be at its weakest for generations.
Loyalists may not like Trump as a person, but on paper The Donald as the Republican Party’s candidate is the best bet tomorrow to secure the Union throughout 2021. Given Brexit and the pandemic, the pro-Union community will have to swallow the bitter pill that securing the Union with Great Britain will no longer be a generational guarantee, but will be a yearly battle.
Listen to Dr John Coulter’s religious show, Call In Coulter, every Saturday morning around 9.30 am on Belfast’s Christian radio station, Sunshine 1049 FM, or listen online at www.thisissunshine.com