As I cast my vote, I ask myself: will the US be any better off after this unseemly circus?
For the past two weeks I've been opening the same the envelope every day, frowning at its contents and returning it to my in-tray. No, it's not a bill. It's my absentee ballot for the US election, requested months ago on the basis of my dual US-Irish citizenship. This is the first US presidential election in which I'm eligible to vote, so the arrival of the envelope from the Maryland State Board of Elections sent a tingle up my spine. For years, as an observer, I have watched this elaborate system of choosing a president. This time I get to play a tiny part.
But that's where my excitement ends. You think it'd be easy to just tick a box and mail it back. But each time I've tried to fill out the ballot, I've cast it aside to ruminate further on what's happening to America.
Firstly, the conduct of this election from the start - by the candidates, as well as the media - has severely damaged the dignity of the office of president. Sidelining discussion of tough policy issues in favour of discussing past indiscretions, vulgar sexual banter, lost e-mails, claims of sex assault and now cat GIFs has devalued the job. Instead of choosing a guiding hand for America, this feels more like selecting the first supreme leader of the Kardashian era.