The historic “blue wave”, the consummation devoutly wished for by the Democrats, has eluded the United States of America. The outcome of the midterm elections scarcely signifies a wholesale rejection of Trumpist policies at home and abroad, though the President must of necessity betray abundant caution in his renewed innings at the crease. Neither the Democrats nor the incumbent Republicans have reasons to be overly euphoric. It is a fractured verdict of a divided nation, the reality that will now be mirrored in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Yet quite the most significant facet to the outcome is that the Democrats have taken back control of the House of Representatives and the impact of this partial Congressional triumph can be profoundly consequential. Indeed, both victory and defeat can be greeted with a modified “yes”. The truism that laughter and tears go together has been reaffirmed two years after Election 2016. The results of Tuesday’s vote mean that the Republicans no longer hold both wings of the US Congress, and this gives President Trump’s political opponents a stronger foothold in Washington from which to oppose his presidency. The Democrats now have the numbers to veto Mr Trump’s proposed laws in the House and initiate a string of damaging investigations into his administration through the committees they will now control.
Chief among them must be Russia’s reported meddling in the presidential election and the investigation must now be protected. The story of the night was that of two different battles playing out – one for control of the House and another for the Senate. In the House contest, the focus was riveted to America’s suburbs. Democrats quickly made gains but failed to pick up seats which would have indicated they were on course for a landslide. The overall outcome is of a piece with unhindered voting in a resilient democracy, this time bereft of offshore meddling. The Democrats’ advances were essential and will check Trump’s reckless exercise of supreme authority.
The President has greeted the result in a manner that reaffirms that he thrives on divisions ~ it “could be a beautiful bipartisan type of situation”, has been his rather improbable suggestion. The Democrats have ended the era of unchecked Republican power and can now thwart his agenda on a welter of issues ~ from tax cuts to healthcare and immigration, not to forget mortal racism and most recently anti-semitism. The resistance has moved into the legislature; but they need to show they can be more substantive than mere resistance.
Critically enough, they now have the power to investigate him; this is not “presidential harassment” but the imperative of oversight. Mr Trump has threatened retaliation, but the biggest challenge for Democrats is picking the right targets and the priority is to protect the work of Robert Mueller, whose report into Russia’s role in the 2016 election and the alleged collusion of the Trump campaign is pending. It promises to be an exciting run-up to Election 2020, and the stakes are high on either side of the fence as Americans monitor the performance of both parties in the Congress.