The U.S voters give split mandate in the midterm elections on 06 November. The Democrats are happy to retake the House of representatives and some governorships from Republican Party. On the other hand, Republicans are happy to keep the control of Senate with winning 51 seats in the house of 100 members.
The Democrats are disappointed not to take back the control of Senate and winning more governorships. The Republicans are disappointed to lose the control of House after 8 years. Now the president Trump and his administration has to deal with a House in which Democrats are enjoying majority.
Lot of people were talking about “blue wave” and crushing defeat for Republican party in the midterm elections. The election results are mix plate for both parties. Republicans were relieved their losses weren’t worse while many progressive workers and youth were disappointed the outcome wasn’t more decisive. It came in the wake of an election campaign where Trump sought to mobilise his base by whipping up fear of immigrants and using overt racism while the Democrats focused on “rejecting hate” and defending Obamacare but offered little that was concrete for working class people.
At the same time a number of left and progressive candidates, standing as Democrats, reflected the intense desire of millions to push back against the agenda of the right by refusing corporate money and putting forward bold pro-working class demands like Medicare-for-All, rent control, a $15 minimum wage and tuition free college. A number of self-described socialists won including Julia Salazar who is going to the New York state senate and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, both heading to Congress. Tlaib is also one of the two Muslim American women elected to Congress, an historic first.
President Trump ran a reactionary campaign on the rightwing agenda. He tried to create fear among white population on the issues of migration and immigrants. Previously he had used the Kavanaugh nomination process to the same end. He declared the migrant caravan from Central America which is winding through Mexico to be “an invasion”, possibly created by the Democrats or funded by the liberal Jewish billionaire George Soros and including MS13 gang members and terrorists from the Middle East.
The Democratic leadership, on the other hand, chose very consciously to focus its attention on suburban districts and particularly on white women “with a college degree” who had previously tended to vote Republican. On healthcare, mainstream Democrats emphasized defending mandatory coverage of people with “pre-existing conditions”, a progressive element of Obamacare. But this was not combined with any bold proposal, along the lines of Medicare for All, for how to address the massive crisis in healthcare and the ongoing attacks of the Republicans.
The turnout was very high in the midterm elections as 30 million more people cast their votes than in the last midterm elections in 2014. Generally, voters did not take much interest in midterm elections and turnout remains low. But this time voters came out in big numbers.
The Democrats made the gain of more than 34 seats in the House. That gave them the majority of 23 seats. Since the election became in many ways a referendum on Trump this shift in itself indicates that large sections of society reject his sexist and racist message.
The women made significant gains in the midterm elections as more than 110 women elected in the House. It is the very first time in the history of U.S that more than 100 women have been elected. It is also the first time that 25% house will be consists of women. A big political achievement in a male dominated politics of U.S. Two Muslim women and two native American women elected to the House for the very first time.
The Democrats also made modest gains at the state level where the Republicans had dominated over the past decade. They flipped seven governor positions including in some key midwestern states like Illinois and Michigan. Several particularly noxious reactionaries lost including Chris Kobach in Kansas and the infamous union basher Scott Walker in Wisconsin. But only flipping six state legislative chambers was a less impressive outcome for the Democrats, at least partly reflecting the gerrymandering of state districts.
On the other hand, Republicans expanded their Senate majority. But it must be remembered that the Senate is far less democratic in its composition given that every state has two representatives no matter how small its population.
Despite the victory of high profile democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and other progressives at federal and state levels, several outcomes were intensely disappointing to many progressive workers and youth. This included the defeat of Andrew Gillum in Florida’s gubernatorial race by the out and out racist Ron de Santis as well as the defeat of Beto O’Rourke in the Texas Senate race by the odious Ted Cruz.
The outcome of the midterm election will broadly encourage those who want to fight back against Trump whereas a Republican victory would clearly have been temporarily demoralizing. However, the immediate pushback of the Democratic establishment against raised expectations is a clear indication of how the debate on the way forward in the fight against the right will intensify in the coming period, especially in the context of the presidential campaign which will begin almost immediately.
But especially given the character of the campaign run by Trump, one must be clear about what exactly democrats are up against. There is an increasing debate among left liberals and the broad left about whether the Trump regime is “creeping fascism”. This fear is heightened by other developments internationally, particularly the election of the far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro who definitely echoes fascistic themes as president of Brazil.
There is no doubt that Trump who now calls himself a “nationalist” is normalizing far right conspiracies. The dominant Trumpian wing of the Republican Party is increasingly taking on aspects of a far-right party.
The midterm elections might be a political setback for president Trump. But overall the results are not so disappointing for the rightwing forces. They have maintained a certain degree of support in the rightwing sections of the society. Trump is still a formidable opponent as the presidential candidate in 2020.
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17 November, 2019