12 December 2018

US’s Congress elections’ possible effects

Sergiu Medar

Image source: Mediafax

Accordingly with US’s electoral system, every two years are held the elections for the US Congress. These elections can be seen as a barometer for the current Presidential Administration’s governing direction, in the middle of the presidential mandate. This year, on 6th of November, were held the elections for Representative’s House and for a third of the Senate. The fact that the democrats won in the House and the republicans in the Senate is only increasing the difficulties Trump will face in governing the country, being forced to subject his decisions to a divided Congress.

US held on 6th of November the elections for the US Congress, in the middle of the presidential mandate (mid-term elections). These were developed in extremely complicated times for US, internally, but also externally.

On an intern plan, electoral campaign’s main topics of the democrat opposition were related to immigration, in fact on the democratic principle of free movement, medical care based on restrictions of the emergency treatment, but also the one covered by health insurances. There were demurred tougher regulations for the owners of guns, as well as US’s economic evolution. The main topic was, as expected, Russia’s involvement in the presidential elections from 2016, a vehemently contested topic by the republicans. They successfully started to pass this aspect on the second plan, underlining the obvious increase of jobs, as well as the historical decrease of unemployment.

Regarding the foreign policy, as usually, it was not a major debate subject anymore, neither for the democrat opposition, nor for the republicans.

The mid-term elections were developed according to the speculated scenario, without significant surprises. They voted over all the positions in the House and a third from the Senate.

Elections’ results, made publicly on 15th of November, after the appeals were solved, shows that in the House the democrats had a comfortable majority. All the 435 positions were subjected to the electoral process. 299 were occupied by democrats and 198 by republicans. The other 8 positions were occupied by unaffiliated independents. A member of the House has a two years mandate.

In the Senate, from the 100 positions (two for each state), the republicans had 51, and the democrats 47 positions, wherein are included two positions for the affiliated independents to democrats. Hence, the republicans got the majority. A member of the Senate has a six years mandate.

Democrats success in the House revealed that democratic liberalism had a decent victory against illiberalism. The fact that Colorado gained one democrat with declared homosexual orientation, married to a man and who has two kids, reveals the openness the voters in the state are showing. Also, we must notice that, for the first time, in the US Congress were elected two Muslim women on democrats’ lists. It was confirmed that, unlike the presidential elections, less voters of color, Hispanics and women, voted with republicans.

Regarding the immigration topic, before the elections, Trump, in a way considered by some media representatives as having racist tendencies, threatened that the US army will interfere if the tidal wave of immigrants from Central America will be violent in their attempt to enter from Mexico to the US.

Encouraged by the success in the Senate, the American president continued with the same rhetoric even after the announcement of elections’ results. After he stated that these elections were a real success for the republicans and after he congratulated his own staff, aware of the importance of democrats’ success in the House, Trump proposed to cooperate with them in the House, in the following fields: health, commerce, infrastructure and economy.

As an answer to all of these, Nancy Pelossi, democrats’ leader in the House, showed group’s availability to cooperate with the republicans in ensuring funds for domains like health and infrastructure. Furthermore, she stated that she is not a big supporter of presidents’ repeal procedure, but with incontestable proofs. In the press conferences held after the elections, Trump stated that he will try to convince the republicans to cooperate with the democrats. This availability, which did not happen after the presidential elections is the proof that White House’s leader is not comfortable in the relation that he has with the US Congress.

A problem that was strongly debated by both parts was the investigation led by attorney Robert Mueller, regarding Russia’s interference, favoring Trump, in the presidential elections of 2016. Along with other threats against him, the American president threatened the democrats that if they will continue the investigations on this subject, he will no longer cooperate with then. The day after the elections, Trump asked the resignation of US’s chief attorney, Jeff Session, a supporter of the investigation and he replaced him, temporary, with Mathew Withaker, who considers this investigation as being useless. In fact, US’s Congress members, democrats and conservatives, asked him not to stop the pending investigation, so that it could be developed according to law.

Adam Schiff, the new president of House’s Intelligence Committee, underlined that he will be very vigilant and intransigent about justice’s independency and also about services’ actions which are part of the US Intelligence Community.

One week after forcing Session to resign, the democrats from the Senate proposed a legislation by which attorney Mueller to be protected in his investigation. The republicans could not but agree with the law being subjected to Senate’s vote, as they knew some of the republicans will vote for proposing the legislation.

The “mid-term” type of elections is always seen as a referendum over US’s president activities. When the president is not liked by the voters, their frustrations go against the party he is part of. In this case, we must agree with the conclusion that the enthusiasm rate of a big part of the American electorate has been reduced, the proof being that, in the House, republicans are close to collapse.  Trump was very active during his electoral campaign, supporting especially the candidates for Senate, where the republicans actually have won.

Hence, after the “mid-term elections” all they got is a divided Congress. This is an important obstacle for Trump’s Administration in their future governance, considering the different political objectives and opinions of both parties.  It is still usual for the mid-term elections to penalize the president. The assumed objectives (in the presidential campaign period) are hard to accomplish, therefore the trust in the new president is wearing away.

With the actual situation it will be hard for the president to take decisions like the ones about the trade war with Europe or China, the relations with Russia or the management of their own economy. With a divided or even hostile Congress, on certain issues, White House’s leader will have to rule through executive orders (emergency ordinances), but this is not always possible and can anytime be repealed through a legislation elaborated by the Congress.

Through the majority they have in the House, the democrats can block republicans’ legislative agenda. Having the leadership of different surveilling commissions on important fields, the democrats can issue citations for dignitaries’ participation at audition about: the financial control of Trump’s fortune, Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections, sexual assault, being able even to start the repeal procedure of the president, but having small chances to succeed, due to Senate’s possible negative vote.

Extremely important in an electoral process is the funding raise campaign. Usually, the ones who are legally raising the biggest funds are the republicans. This time, the democrats not only that did better than the republicans in the funding raise process, but they also reached the amount of $649 million which is more than republicans’ double amount, $312 million.  This shows, in fact, rich people’s determination, financially speaking, as well as of the majority of companies, to vote against Trump.

With the mid-terms elections it is absolutely normal for journalists and analysts in the entire world, after interpreting these elections, to speculate over the results of the future presidential elections. Statistics’ analysis shows that there is no conclusion which could allow such a predictability. No one can speculate over the 2020 elections. For example, Barack Obama won the presidential election in 2008, then the democrats had a disastrous collapse in 2010 in the mid-term elections, but they easily won the presidential elections in 2012.

At the presidential elections from 2016, the democrats won, with a 2% advance, citizens’ vote, but not the electors one, hence Trump, according to the American procedure vote, won the elections. Now, the democrats won, again, people’s vote, this time with 7%. If at the 2020 elections the democrats will reach at least this percentage, a feasible one, they will win also the presidential elections.

During the electoral campaign, through the public interference of White House’s leader, one could see the disputes between him and the majority of the media. This is not, and will not be, helping Trump in the following period.

The question after these intermediary elections is: what changes could Donald Trump bring in Administration’s internal and external policy? Probably nothing essential.

Likely there will be no changes at all in President’s rhetoric. On an internal plan, he will try to attract the democrats in solving issues about infrastructure, education and health. Increasing jobs’ number and reducing the unemployment will be more and more underlined as current Administration’s successes.

He will continue with his aggressive manner against the investigation which is deploying regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections. Probably he will try to block the public presentation of some proofs from the file. The republicans will be solidary in order to avoid Trump’s impeachment.

On an external plan there will not be many changes. Trump will continue the America First policy, although the catch phrase was not too often mentioned during the actual electoral campaign. He will likely continue with the nationalist approach in applying the principles of world’s new international order’s modification. Words as “globalism” or “internationalism” will be replaced with “multilateralism” and “nationalism”.

Generally, Donald Trump’s policy will only suffer circumstances changes, but not about governance’s principles.