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Perspectives On: The United States Midterms
Following a historic round of elections in the US, Redbrick writers share their thoughts on a night in which the tides seemed to turn against President Trump
Erin Santillo, Editor-in-Chief
The Democrats have won back the House of Representatives for the first time since 2010, the Republicans have cemented their control of the Senate by increasing their majority, and Congress is more diverse than ever before. The midterms may not elect the president, but they certainly have an effect on the administration and tell us a lot about the current mood in the US.
Every four years, the US electorate go to the polls to vote in a new Congress, which splits into the lower chamber, the House, and the upper chamber, the Senate. This Tuesday, all 435 House seats were being contested, with only 35 of the 100 Senate seats up for election.
“Congress is more diverse than ever before
Donald Trump was not on the ballot paper, but with an approval rating of 40% these elections were widely billed as a test of the electorate’s confidence in the president and his agenda. Democrats will say that, with the control of the House, they can now block Trump’s controversial headline policies and promote a more liberal agenda for legislation, whilst the Republicans will argue that the midterms are historically biased against the incumbent administration and so walking away with the Senate is a huge win for them.
Either way, the effects of these midterm results on the US will be noticeable. When the changes come in place in two months, the Democrats will have the power to launch an investigation into the private finances of the president, with the possibility for impeachment very much on the table. However, with control over the Senate, and hence the power to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court, the Republicans and the President won’t lose any sleep just yet.
Jonathan Korn, Redbrick Writer
The Republicans have kept the Senate. The Democrats have won back the House. As we knew would happen. The USA, no stranger to partisan gridlock, falls into its unwelcome embrace yet again.
President Trump will find it much harder to get legislation through, but even before the midterms he struggled to get the repeal of Obamacare through the Senate. The supposed sea change of last night merely exacerbates these existing difficulties.
“Trump has done enough to claim a victory of sorts
However, Trump has done enough to claim a victory of sorts, with Republicans holding onto the Senate and even picking up a seat in Indiana. Incumbent governments never do particularly well in the mid-terms, so the President will be relieved more than anything that he avoided a trouncing.
For the Democrats, the ‘Blue Wave’ anticipated did not fully materialise, but gaining the House was a must that was achieved. Internal Party squabbling should follow, with presumptive speaker Nancy Pelosi not universally loved by Congressional Democrats. For now, they too will be able to claim victory, picking up key seats that will give them hope ahead of the 2020 Presidential election.
In short, the results were expected, ambiguous and uninformative. Why did I bother staying up?
Antonia Miles, Redbrick Writer
The conventional narrative of the US midterms was right: the Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives while the Republicans are set to strengthen their grip in the Senate, symbolising a massive blow to the polarising President. The Trump administration will face far more scrutiny and embarrassment, as the House of Representatives will be able to block Trump’s divisive and controversial agenda.
We can also expect the House of Representatives to fight back against two years in the darkness as they are given a lot more oversight. Issues worthy of further investigation include the allegations of corruption made against senior Trump administration officials, Russian interference in Trump’s presidential campaign or delve into Trump’s personal finances by looking at his tax reforms for example.
“We can expect the House of Representatives to fight back against two years in the darkness
Most exciting above all however is that to a President who once boasted of ‘grabbing women by the pussy’, this election cycle, which has been dubbed the ‘Year of the Woman,’ has brought with it many firsts; a record number of female representatives, the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress (New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress, the first Native American women and Colorado’s Jared Polis, the first gay governor in America.
This demonstrates to me that Trump’s divisive sentiment has largely fallen on deaf ears, as the American people have voted in favour of diersity in the House of Representatives, a new energy which ultimately succeeded in flipping Republican safe hold districts.
Alex Cirant-Taaljard, Comment Editor
What this midterm demonstrates yet again is the deeply uneven nature of the United States’ upper chamber. Because every state gets two senators regardless of population, far more power is put in the hands of voters in smaller, rural states. These states, such as North Dakota and Missouri, are the ones that have swung towards Trump. A Democratic House is certainly a positive step forward, but Trump is still empowered by his control of the Senate and Supreme Court.
“It isn’t enough to simply denounce Trump: a hopeful alternative needs to be put forward by candidates
In order to make any real change in the US, the Democrat party need to start speaking to those rural areas. Until that happens, it will be difficult for the Democrats to ever make big gains in the Senate. It isn’t enough to simply denounce Trump: a hopeful alternative needs to be put forward by candidates. Beto O’Rourke came close in Texas after delivering a message that progressives could really get behind, and I’m not surprised that his name is coming up in conservations about the 2020 Presidential election.
What is clear is that the Trump train is not slowing down in certain parts of the US, and come 2020 they will almost certainly continue to back him. Whether or not key swing states will continue to swing his way remains to be seen.