The Democrats have wrestled control of the House of Representatives in a blow to the ambitions President Donald Trump. Whilst gaining more control in the Senate, the Republicans must feel that this is a chance missed. This victory means that Trump’s presidency is not going to go unchecked. Up until this point, he’s benefited from a Congress that was sympathetic towards his policies and tried to turn a blind eye to his more questionable decisions. What changes can we expect now from a Democratic House majority, are the results bad for The Donald, and what does this mean for his presidency?
For the last 8 years the House of Representatives has had a strong Republican influence, seen through their opposition to a number of President Obama’s legislative propositions. Now, we will begin to see a House that will pass more progressive policies and stifle many of Trump’s plans. In order for Trump to have a chance of passing any of his policies, he’ll have to try and cosy up to the people he has spent the last few months aggressively attacking in his speeches and at his rallies. This may be a step too far for the President, and I doubt whether, deep down, he’d even want to enter into this sort of relationship, despite his public claims that he and the Democrats needed to work together. He wasn’t calling for this a few months ago.
What’s more worrying for Trump and his administration, is the ability for the Democrats to begin investigations into the president’s tax returns, his foreign dealings and his campaign. This includes potentially beginning the process of impeachment, but I feel we’ll have to wait and see what evidence, if any, Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in 2016 provides. If his report reveals anything to the effect of Russian meddling or the Trump campaign’s knowledge of said activities, then don’t be surprised if we see the impeachment ball begin to roll.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Trump and the Republicans though. They managed to consolidate their position in the Senate, allowing them to control the process of federal judiciary appointments as well as confirmations of high level Trump officials. The Democrats winning also plays into Trump’s hands, as it gives him someone to blame when things go wrong or he doesn’t achieve the things he said he would. He’ll just say, “oh, the Democrats stopped it, it’s not my fault”, passing the blame onto someone else in what is a classic Trump move.
What the mid-term elections did highlight is the growing number of Republican voters who switched allegiances to the Democrats. The Republicans lost ground in states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio where they were within touching distance of the Democrats in 2016. Now it looks like these are becoming comfortable blue states. In some districts, where Trump received support from the wealthier and better-educated members of the community in 2016, we’ve seen these voters jump ship and vote Democrat, highlighting changed perspectives in regards to his presidency within some previously Republican swaying demographics.
This mid-term election has broken records. The number of women who were running for office hit an all-time high, with an unparalleled number winning their races. Prior to the elections, there were 107 women in Congress, that number’s now been surpassed considerably. We’ve also seen the election of the first Muslim Congresswomen, in Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, with New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Iowa’s Abby Finkenauer becoming the youngest Congresswomen ever elected. New Mexico’s Debra Haaland and Kansas’s Sharice Davids became the first Native American women in Congress. Overall, this’ll allow a much more representative feel to the House, and hopefully we’ll see long overdue policy discussed and introduced on subjects such as sexual assault, harassment and equality. Also, in Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, the United States have their first openly gay governor, which is a great step forward.
There’s been no clear winner in these mid-term elections. Arguments can be made for both sides being the victors, but what can be said is that more and more Americans seem to be backing progressive candidates, and importantly, women.
Trump will still find something to complain about, that’s for certain. He and his administration will also be looking over their shoulders a lot more now, worried that the Democrats will be watching their every move like a hawk. Whether this’ll stop Trump trying to push his more controversial and divisive policies remains to be seen. I doubt it will, it’s not in his character to be cautious.
The Republicans winning the Senate is being seen as a big win by Trump, and you could argue that it is. Trump focused his campaigning on the Senate race and the governorship’s, with the candidates that he backed doing well. The President will see this as a show of support for him, rather than those who were elected or the Republican party itself, giving justification for his actions as President and further inflating his bulging ego.
In the last few months Trump has furiously campaigned for Republican’s running for the Senate and for governorships in a number of key states. His campaign style of attacking his opposition, the media, immigrants and anyone or anything that takes his fancy has been seen by Trump to be successful. He’s run thinly-veiled racist adverts, denying that he had anything to do with them when questioned by the media, despite what was said being remarkably similar to what comes out of his mouth, or typed by his fingers on a daily basis.
Rather disturbingly, we’ve seen an adoption of these tactics by a number of Republican candidates. Look at Brian Kemp or Marsha Blackburn for instance. Their campaign’s ran ads bordering on racist and xenophobic. Blackburn ran an advert full of false information about the migrant “caravan” that is approaching the US border. The purpose was to create an atmosphere of fear and to accuse opponent Phil Bredesen of “endangering national security”. One of Kemp’s adverts is arguably one of the most overtly Republican campaign ads I’ve ever seen. Look for it on YouTube, it’s mesmerizing to watch, it’s so overtly conservative it’s bordering on satire. It’s amazing that it’s real.
Others attacked their opponents based on race and heritage. For example, in California, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Christian Latino-Arab American, was accused, falsely, of having a connection with the Muslim Brotherhood by Republican Duncan Hunter’s campaign ad. Shockingly, he was called a “security risk”. Trump’s rhetoric in the last couple of years has been lapped up by his supporters, including those who run for office, so much so that people think that they don’t need to back up statements with facts, not that Trump did this anyway.
These aggressive lies that they attempt to pass as ads are unfortunately the ugly norm in an American political campaign. They are protected by the First Amendment, and both sides are guilty of using them. Although, their purpose for Republican candidates is to try and rally Trump’s loyal base of supporters, which they do with alarming success. For the average American, these ads do little to sway their vote, and for outsiders they paint a scary picture of America.
In two years’ time, in the next Presidential election, we will see more of these adverts. Trump will be campaigning for re-election, so will be looking to energise his support base, whilst other candidates will take to attacking Trump and their opponents. Things could get ugly, and in Trump, these opposing candidates will be up against the master. There is nothing he won’t say to get the limelight or more votes. The Presidential election race in 2020 could be very controversial indeed, we’d better buckle up now and prepare because it’s not going to be pretty.
The Thing Is, I doubt the Trump administration will suffer much in losing the House of Representatives. Yes, legislation and key policies will be held up and potentially stopped by the Democrats, but, more influentially, Trump and the Republicans still have control of the Senate and over judiciary appointments. If a more liberal Supreme Court Justice retires or dies in the next 2 years, Trump will be able to select another Conservative judge to take their place, swinging the balance in further favour of the Republicans. Plus, it’s unlikely that Trump will check his own actions, the possible responses from the Democrats won’t scare him and if anything, he’ll relish the challenge. Trump loves to play the blame game as it detracts attention from him, and this now gives him the perfect opportunity to do so. The Democrats have played straight into his tiny hands.
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