America messed up. We elected a man with a giant Nike swoop on his head and told him to "Just do it". The problem is, he did. What's another mortally wounded democracy among 330 million frenemies?
Who's crying now? We are. Millions of nervous, exhausted Americans are shouting at each other to vote as if your life depends on it. Because it does. Thanks to an over-friendly pandemic raging through the country, alongside a toxic president who has an uncanny talent for um ... let me get back to you on that.
Why are American elections so confusing? Here's an explainer for the ugly bits.
Why are thousands of voters standing for hours in queues?
Look closely, notice something about their skin colour? Funny, how white, suburban voters are cruising through the process like — well, Kiwis.
The backstory? Enter, one terrible, deciding vote by Chief Justice John Roberts that gutted the Voting Rights Act.
In 2013, Roberts ridiculously argued that there wasn't any racial prejudice in voting today. He struck down 1965 voting protections once put in place due to racial disenfranchisement. We're now in the second, chaotic presidential election since that ruling, with awful repercussions.
Today voting is an endurance sport, especially for people of colour. Nastier Republican governors and state legislatures have put only a handful of voting machines in black or Latino districts, knowing that these voters are likely Democrats.
Indeed, why encourage voting at all, if a greater turnout leans toward Democrats? Ask the governor of Texas, who put one ballot drop box per county. That means Houston's Harris County, with a population the size of New Zealand's and 4600 sq km big, has a single ballot drop box.
Voting rights advocates went screaming to the courts. His decree was struck down, only to be overturned by Trump-appointed judges in appeal.
Explain this Electoral College thingy again?
First off, we need to get rid of it. The olde-timey assumptions behind its creation don't work today. America's founding fathers didn't trust that regular, half-literate citizens of the time could be informed enough to decide on a president. The Electoral College was a protection against the Great Unwashed.
These 538 party functionaries sit down to vote on December 14, based on the November 3 ballots. The trouble comes from its winner-take-all method. Votes are not proportionally allocated. Five times a popular vote candidate has lost the office.
All you need to know is one number: 270 "electoral votes" are needed to win. Each state gets the same number of "electors" as their representatives in Congress (so bigger states have more).
Why is this year's election night going to be strange?
We won't know the true winner on the night. No, really.
Why? Because divided Americans are even divided on the manner of voting. The majority of Republicans are voting in person.
The majority of Democrats are voting by mail due to Covid. That means Republican votes may be counted on election night in greater numbers, while most Democratic votes may not be counted for days, even weeks later.
We may see a Republican "Red Mirage" on election maps on the night. But we won't know how big or small the Democratic "Blue Wave" will be until much later. There's one caveat that reverses this: If a big landslide for Joe Biden shows up in early returns on the night. Watch out for surprise early wins in places like Florida and even Texas that would shut up Donald Trump's already percolating narrative about "massive mail fraud".
So who's going to win?
There's only one answer that doesn't lead the entire nation to the throes of the Alien popping out of John Hurt's stomach.
Biden has to win. This election has long stopped pretending to be about two candidates. This vote will either protect a broken democracy or help destroy it.
I have lived to see something that's shocked me. This year, the Republican convention announced it had no platform. None. No policies, principles, issues upon which it was choosing to publicly stand. Except for Trump.
That terrified me. I have never believed American democracy could look this fragile.
There's an old saying that I hold close to my heart right now, 'They tried to bury us. They didn't realise we were seeds.'
We have to grow democracy's voice. America has no choice.
• Tracey Barnett is an American-Kiwi columnist based in Auckland.