AA Edit | Midterms: Democracy gets a boost; setback to Trump

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Significant as it may be for Joe Biden’s regime, the verdict pales when compared to the process keeping its credibility

Former US President Donald Trump speaks to the media while departing a polling station after voting in the US midterm elections at Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 8, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

It was a good day for democracy as the US election process came through a stern test in the midterm polls. The result may have been left hanging in a tantalising manner, save for the Republicans certain to have more members in the House of Representatives than the Democrats. The control of the Senate hinges on three results and Georgia is headed for a December 6 runoff.

Significant as it may be for Joe Biden’s regime, the verdict pales when compared to the process keeping its credibility at a time when at least two other major world powers have leaders who have carved virtual rule for life terms. Another strike for democracy comes in the fading of Donald Trump even if Trumpism is by no means finished.

The former President, who was left raving and ranting, at his wife Melinda too, even as the Republican Party directed unusual public attacks at Mr Trump, chief election denialist and maverick politician who had been manipulating the Grand Old Party into a personality cult. The failure of his handpicked candidates, including a strange choice in Dr Mehmet Oz, brought out the clarity of thinking among US voters that the quality of candidates still matters even if there is a premium on partisan identity in these polarised times.

The rise of Ron DeSantis, derided by Mr Trump as “DeSanctimonious” for his “godly” appeal to his party members, is the most significant result of the midterms. Mr Trump may be down, but he is far from being out regarding his run for the 2024 presidency. It is certain now that Mr DeSantis, with a most convincing result in re-election as Florida governor, will be seeking the ticket too, which presages a fascinating contest in the offing between two power seekers who are birds of a feather and in the same party.

Projections rather than hard evidence of a “red wave” tended to put narrative ahead of the numbers, leading to the whipping up of expectations of a Trumpian march in the midterms. But this round of polls may have been fundamentally altered much earlier by the US Supreme Court verdict scrapping Roe versus Wade and amalgamating pro-choice votaries into a bank of people willing to come out and have their say in referendums and, more importantly, at the polling booth.

A history-defying performance by a ruling party not losing a clutch of Senate and House seats in midterms, brings enormous relief for Mr Biden who, in statesmanlike fashion, described it as a victory for the integrity of democracy. Even so, his party would need to win at least two of three hanging Senate seats even to reach and retain the deadlock figure of 50, with the Democrats having the crucial vote to break a tie.  

When the joy of the victory of electoral democracy ebbs, the Biden agenda, already facing economic headwinds, will be left to face the biggest challenges, more so if the Democrats lose control of the Senate, besides having to work with a Republican majority in the House.  The 2024 presidential election could, however, be something else as the Democrats under an aging Mr Biden well know.