New day in America
The Democrats have won back control of the House of Representatives in a midterm election. This victory will check US President Donald Trump’s agenda over the next two years and lead to a multitude of investigations into his business dealings and his administration.
The party needed a net gain of 23 seats to break the Republicans’ eight-year hold on the House that began with the tea party revolt of 2010. While the Republican Party maintained control of the Senate, a new era of divided government is set to begin.
The US midterm elections are always important. But these elections mattered in ways that few midterm contests could have matched. Yes, it will take more than one election to mend the damaged and angry political mood that, in the last two weeks alone, has seen a fervent Trump supporter send bombs to several Democrats, and a white supremacist commit the most heinous act of antisemitic violence in the country’s history. The man in the White House is not the only thing that must change. But the journey has to start somewhere.
Mr Trump is not the sole reason why American politics have become so toxic, why Americans’ faith in their institutions has been so shaken, or the influence of the US for good in the world so diminished. In many ways, Mr Trump was the product of already existing toxicity, shaken faith and declining prestige. But he has turbo-charged this decline deliberately, as a matter of conscious policy. He seeks consistently to be the president of some of the US, not of the country as a whole. Against those who do not support or agree with him, he deploys only hate and scorn. He lies and provokes as a matter of strategy. This is a president without precedent, and although in the US democracy is strong, it is not indestructible.
Hence, the victory was crucial as Democratic Congress can constrain Donald Trump and his campaigns of hate. As Bill Clinton knows, the House is where most legislation starts life, and where any impeachment of the president would begin. For tactical reasons, the Democrats did not talk about impeachment during the campaign, but once they take majority control of the House, that is likely that will change. With a majority in the House, Democrats are expected to launch a flurry of investigations into the president and his administration. The White House’s legal team is reportedly bracing for potential inquiries that include whether Trump obstructed justice in the Russia investigation, the misuse of taxpayer dollars by several cabinet officials, and hush money paid to women to keep silent about their alleged affairs with Trump before he was elected president. Meanwhile, the increased Republican majority in the Senate, however, will make it easier for Trump to continue to appoint judges and remake the nation’s judiciary branch in a more conservative mouldm. Nonetheless, the result does give some relief, tomorrow could really be a new day for America.