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November 8, 2018
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Midterm results

Editorial

November 8, 2018

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US President Donald Trump has ruled his country with a mixture of greed and fear. Since becoming president, he has maintained his global construction empire and barely tried to hide the fact that he curries favours with governments to help his business. Yet, despite this, his favourability ratings have rarely dropped below 50 percent. That is where the fear comes in. He has kept his overwhelmingly white base on his side by stoking fears of immigrants from South America, Muslims and African-Americans, most recently by insinuating that brown rapists and terrorists were invading the US in a ‘caravan’ of migrants. Now, after Tuesday’s midterm elections, there is a chance that some of Trump’s policies might be reversed and his own conduct scrutinised. The Democratic Party won a clear majority of seats in the lower House of Representatives. Most notably, some of those who won include rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who have broken with decades of bipartisan consensus to be at least mildly critical of Israel and embrace the socialist label. This majority gives the Democrats the power to launch investigations of Trump and subpoena his administration officials. They could even launch impeachment proceedings. Any legislation the Republicans might have hoped to pass will be dead on arrival.

The Republicans did, however, manage to increase their majority in the Senate. This was always expected to happen since the Senate elections are held on a rotating six-year basis and the electoral map was largely in favour of the Republicans. The best thing about a divided government is that Trump will not be able to forward his agenda. The bad news is that it is the Senate that has the responsibility of voting for judges and once Trump has stacked the courts that could give him the opportunity to forward his hateful programme through executive action. We already saw that happen when his Muslim travel ban was largely upheld by the Supreme Court, and he is now making noises about ending birthright citizenship in the US. For the rest of the world, the elections are unlikely to make a difference. Foreign policy duties are almost entirely vested with the presidency and the Democratic Party is largely militaristic too. The only hope is that Trump will be so distracted by the multiple investigations which are sure to come his way that he cannot do too much more damage on the foreign front.

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