US Mid-Term Elections – Some reflections
It will be sometime before one can come to grips with the complexities of the mid-term elections, so I offer here some brief reflections. America used to be presented as the fountain of democracy.
Well what a messy democracy! Imagine the Secretary of State who was contesting the governorship of Georgia continuing to control the electoral machinery and refusing to accept the validity of a number of registrations. Efforts were even made elsewhere to prevent native Americans from voting demanding information for things that did not exist in their communities; a polling station being moved to an area with no bus system and countless other efforts to disenfranchise minorities. And they dare to speak about ‘banana republics’ and to look contemptuously at what they regard as infringements of democratic rule elsewhere! Some of these are certainly not new but done more openly in this Trumpian era.
I say era because I don’t think any other president in normal times has imposed himself so much on the media and people. Despite his attacks on the mainstream media as fake news and his enemies, they seem to like him because they cover him every minute of the day and play up his absurd remarks. He likes to be the centre of attention and plays to that gallery. As Americans went to the polls a large number had Trump on their minds, in fact two-thirds, either because they liked what he was doing or because they despised him.
His campaigning for the mid-terms was disgusting, sickening and dangerous. He was all about stalking fear, about dividing the country, and playing to the grossest and ultra- racists among his unshakeable base. He does virtually what he likes knowing that the Republican party which he holds in his hands will do little about it. They are prepared to find excuses for him, lame as they might be. One of his chief campaign strategies was to try to convince the American public that a so-called caravan was on its way to the borders to invade, with a number of evil men, some of them from Middle East, bringing back diseases which had long since been eradicated. He was sending more troops to the border than he had in Afghanistan. That was scaremongering of the highest order!
In his campaigning, with few exceptions he went to his solid Trumpian base and succeeded in getting them to the polls, even telling them to imagine he was on the ballots. But he is doing damage to the Republicans that might be difficult to overcome. He has driven an unusually large number of women to become candidates and to win seats in Congress. Over 100 women will now sit in the House, including two native Americans and two Muslims. The Republican support, courtesy Trump, is becoming narrowly rural, having created a backlash in the suburbs. He has forced Independents into the Democrats’ corner and has driven young people to vote in large numbers.
The anti-Trump sentiment manifested itself in the Democratic surge in the House where they overturned more than two dozen seats. The Senate was always going to be a problem for the democrats given the number of seats which they had to defend. He is causing the Republican party to appeal to a narrowing electoral band, going at odds with the growing diversity in many areas of America. Trump and the Republicans represent and demonstrate all that is wrong in politics. Lies became the order of the day. Republicans realising the appeal of health care as a major issue talked of defending Medicare and Obamacare even while they were challenging Obamacare in courts. How much more bold-faced can you get!
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian