A blue House and a red Senate with an orange President – where does America go from here?

Published: November 7, 2018

People vote at outdoor booths during early voting for the mid-term elections in Pasadena, California on November 3, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

The November 6th midterm elections was perhaps the most contentious and bitterly contested event in modern US history. As BBC aptly put it:

“Though his name is not on the ballot anywhere across the US, make no mistake – these elections are ALL about Donald Trump.”

The outrageous and mind-boggling campaign run by the Republicans essentially put everything at stake including America’s pride, status as a global power, and standing as the beacon of hope for millions of people around the globe. Trump’s one-man show tried its best to poison his mostly ‘white’ base against people of colour. His unhinged messaging to polarise an already divided nation ensured that America’s perception, both inside and outside the country, would change for the worst for several generations to come.

As the Tree of Life Synagogue’s rabbi said the other day right after the October 27th massacre, these divisive, rhetorical and hateful political campaigns send a loud and clear message to America that,

“This (hate) is okay, you can do it as well.”

The hatred spread by Trump across the US mainland only goes to prove beyond doubt that despite being a political underdog, he is now a force to be reckoned with. This has been reinforced by the fact that whosoever Trump campaigned for (especially on the Senate side), those candidates won by considerable margins.

While the Democrats were able to attain majority in the lower chamber of the legislature, that is the House of Representatives, the Republicans kept control of the Senate, the upper chamber. This will obviously result in the change of balance of power paradigm given that the Republicans were in control of both houses since November 2016. The Democrats flipped a number of seats in the House of Representatives by defeating their Republican counterparts. This is, by all means, a very significant defeat for Trump, despite what he says.

Looking ahead, there’s not much that one can look forward to in terms of the improvement in the overall political environment. Trump will remain in office until at least 2020. The midterm elections’ results will only encourage him further to go negative and stoke fears in the minds of his followers.

By winning the House, the Democrats can perhaps use this experience to lay a strong basis of recapturing the Oval Office in 2020. The party has been leaderless and rudderless lately. It took an almighty effort from former President Barack Obama to galvanise people to come out and vote in the midterms. Yet, the much talked about ‘blue wave’ never happened.

However, beyond this point, Obama cannot carry the Democratic Party on his shoulders. The Democrats have their work cut out and need to do plenty of soul searching and look for a plausible set of presidential candidates to combat the Trump tyranny. The House of Representative victory is a minor episode. Right now, for 2020, there’s not much choice other than old timers like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. All those names neither have the strength nor the crazy energy that Trump brings to the table. The Democrats need new, young blood; people who are committed enough to bring the party together and go head on with Trump. Sadly, the days of civil discourse and respect are gone in the United States. Starting now, until the 2020 Presidential Election, it’ll be tooth for a tooth and eye for an eye. All bets are off!

There’s been a lot of talk of impeachment if the Democrats won the House. That is not going to happen. With a heft majority in the Senate, Trump’s man in that chamber, Mitch McConnell, will block any effort to oust his master.

The Democrat win proves that politics, no matter what, is still localised in America. Whereas Trump and the Republican emphasised on national security issues, for the Democrat voters, healthcare was something that they wanted their candidates to focus on and improve upon once they get elected. Now with a majority in the House, the Democrats will pose a formidable challenge to Trump’s ambition to abolish Obamacare.

By some accounts, it is irrelevant what the result of the midterm elections turned out to be. What is of real significance is that Trump effectively put two Americas – one liberal and progressive, and the other conservative and change resistant – on a collision course. For what it’s worth, he has completely transformed the Republican Party beyond recognition. The party is, for all intents and purposes, what Trump is and we all know that Trump is perhaps the most scattered-minded man ever to walk on the green planet. Being so, it implies that the Republicans no longer stand for anything, no values and nothing that can connect them closely with the people or understand their problems. Trump is all about winning, spreading controversies and conspiracies. This cannot go on forever as is evident from the House election results from yesterday.

So, here we are done with yet another election cycle. What’s next?

1.  Democrats need to find someone to fight Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

2.  Republicans must decide which direction to take. They can either stay on course and let Trump continue changing the texture and tenor of their values or build a wall of resistance against him to take back their party from his vicious claws.

3. A Democrat victory in the House means they can start investigating Trump’s tax issues, his conflicts of interest, and so on. Most importantly, once the Robert Mueller report comes out, they can perhaps enforce the writ of law against those found guilty by the probe.

For now, we can only speculate. At the expense of sounding like an alarmist and without undermining the process of these elections, the bottom line is that Trump will continue to make it difficult for America, as a nation to live, breath and survive, both domestically and in the international community. Despite advisement, he did not brag about the thriving US economy during the campaign because it was not “exciting” to talk about it. He is the kind of a person who wants public reaction and manipulates and provokes, and takes insanity to the next level. Hence, it is safe to say that while we are done with one insanity of the midterm elections, the next one is just about to begin. It isn’t beyond any stretch of imagination that we might start seeing 2020 campaign ads for Trump’s re-election campaign starting as early as tomorrow or the day after!

If, however, sanity is allowed to prevail, with a divided legislature, this could be an opportunity for the Democrats and the Republicans to work together for the country’s stability and try to resist Trump’s over-zealous plans to eradicate and eliminate immigrants and stop him from spreading hate and animosity in the country.

America is way too polarised internally and has become a laughing stock for the rest of the world. Political leaders must think deeper than their hearts and make a much-needed effort to recapture some of the lost moral high ground. Given the set of precarious circumstances, this seems like too much to ask. Alas, we will all continue to watch a Trump show for at least another two if not the next six years.

Ahson Saeed Hasan

Ahson Saeed Hasan

The writer is a proud American, a peacenik who has traveled well over 80 countries and lived in four continents. He likes to share his experiences and reflect on the worldly surroundings. He tweets @tweetingacho (twitter.com/tweetingacho)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://farunattainablesky.blogspot.com/ Inderjeet Kaur

    Very likely 45 will be impeached by the House which simply bringing the charges against him. This was done to Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair. He would then be tried by the Senate and, of course, be acquitted.
    As for viable candidates, no one stands out. Perhaps it’s an insane idea but several younger members of the Kennedy clan are in politics. After all these years, that family is still much admired and respected after three of their sons were martyred for the USA, the eldest in World War Two, the other two by assassination. I’m grasping at straws. There’s really no one to inspire the democratic Party.Recommend

  • Parvez

    That gave me a good picture of what just took place in the USA…..and a glimpse of what possibly can follow.
    With the Republicans controlling the Senate would it make it easier for Trump to appoint SC judges if and when the seats fall open ?
    I am a casual observer of American politics but I feel the 2020 race will have to focus on jobs and the economy and Trump has already played that card. Will he be able to sustain the same economic momentum ? Even the present ‘ so called ‘ economic bonanza, according to some, has not reached down to the working class.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Team Trump will continue to fill federal court vacancies (100 plus currently) with Republican judges the next two years, and the Democrats cannot do anything about it!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Wow! Team Trump! Spoken like a true Hindustani believer and long distance
    supporter of Lord Trump,…ooops! er, Trump Sarkar, American brother of Modi Sarkar.
    As is very evident, you do not support democracy. the common man, Affordable Care Act,
    no extra charge for Pre Existing Conditions, no biased, racist, judges on the bench. Lies,
    and deceit use to be the norm. Separating babies from mothers at the border, fleeing death and destruction in their countries. Total lies about a brown invasion of immigrants.
    None of the human decent traits matter to Hindu Hindustanis like you. After all you elected
    the Butcher of Gujrat as your PM. And did your best to give more power to the man who supported the White Supremacists, The Aryan Nation, the Klan, the racists butchers of Charlotsville… it can go on and on.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I may be wrong but after hearing a bit of what the Democratic leader had to say, I doubt they are too enthusiastic about impeachment.
    I agree, the Democrats need to find a ‘ young visible face ‘ for 2020. Why not another Obama ?…..she is well liked.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Totally disagree with the author’s blog. The premise is,…well, more like ‘ho hum’ nothing happened or ‘an eye for an eye’. In truth, something very big happened, Trump got defeated.
    “…[Democrats] were able to attain majority in the lower chamber of the legislature…” There is no such thing as a ‘lower chamber’. It’s called House of Representatives. Part of US Congress.
    Very sorry, but this is not Raiwind or Jati Umra., or Sheikhupura or Jhang to term it lower chamber.
    Democrats do not need to start out on a negative footing, by ‘fighting the White House and Trump’ or the Republicans. Or taking revenge.
    This is the time to TRY to work together with Republicans and help the common man. And show Americans, that Democrats are for everybody. That they care about Jews, Muslims, LGBT, Transgenders, Atheists, Goths,Vegans, Blacks, Orientals, for everyone. Not just the top 1% [the filthy rich] who keep the Republicans in power by contributing billions to their coffers.
    This time the billions did not help the Republicans.
    Republicans lost because because they did not have a moral compass, were not transparent, were devious, were unable to confront and control Trump. And told lies.
    The common man could and can see all this. That is why the Democrats won. On truth.
    Now the challenge is that the Democrats need to show they can run the govt. better.Recommend

  • Patwari

    There are Democrats who are inspiring people.
    Representative Eric Swalwell of California. Senator Kamala Harris of California. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Michael Bloomberg of Bloomberg Network. NY Governor Cuomo. NY City Mayor Bill Blasio, Former VP Joe Biden. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey…
    And many many others.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Since “the working class” job participation is measured in the employment rate and business activity index, both now being the highest is some many years, just how has economic bonanza not reached them???Recommend

  • Parvez

    There are differing views on this ….. as I said ” ..according to some ” jobs may be up, businesses are doing well but the actual money received in the pocket of blue collared workers has not really increased and what little that has is offset by increase in local taxes, medical costs etc.
    Let me be clear I do not live in the US ….. so my info is what I understand from the media and talking with people who do live there….. I could be wrong as well.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Hmm, curious that you think I am Indian and/or live in India!
    However, please continue your rants against Trump so I and others can laugh at your delusions!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, let us be clear, only two types adore Trump. First are :-
    White Supremacists, Aryan Nations, the Klan, racists, bigots, misogynists, ideologues, sycophants, fear mongers, panderers, people with no moral compass, living on the fringes of US society. They are called the Trump base. Then we have the…” wannabe world power”…
    the Hindustanis. Who are getting third rate cast off, obsolete weapons systems through the largess of US. At bargain basement prices. Like a fire sale. With the Hindustanis buying this scrap metal it improves the US economy. Creates jobs and makes Trump look good. Modi Sarkar and Bopin Sawat the CinC of Bharati Army, got “took” by the deal maker Trump.
    One of the ongoing joke in the White House is “do the Dotheads”
    meaning, Hindustanis are in such awe, they will buy anything from us.
    Besides, Walmart and Amazon needs to sell a lot of stuff to 2 billion Bharatis.
    You insist you are not from Hindustan, then is it the Fiji Islands? South Africa? Kenya? Uganda? Andaman Islands? Straits of Johore? Sri Lanka? Lots of Bharati live in these countries.Recommend

  • Patwari

    It is NOT a matter of enthusiasm, to impeach. It is a matter of following the law.
    If Mueller investigation reveals that high crimes were committed by 45, then the law has to be followed. Starting with obstruction of justice, collusion with Russia…
    More than 9 people from the Trump inner circle have been indicted, charged with committing felonies [felonies are high crimes, requiring jail time]
    There will be a choice, be impeached or resign,…so what do you think Big Yellow
    will choose?Recommend

  • Parvez

    If you are right an impeachment proceeding my happen…….but as you know Trump knows how to fight….and fight dirty. So it would be interesting to watch.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Hmm, so you claim that the near 50% of legal American voters who elected Trump live on the FRINGE of US Society! HAHAHAHAHA
    BTW, Curious you fail to mention that recently Pakistan desperately wanted some of those US “obsolete weapons systems” like used F-16s!
    BTW the “Hindustani wannabe world power” has some 700 $ Billion PLUS of Forex reserves, and as a recognized member of the BRICS group, while its poor neighbor Pakistan has less than $10 Billion, thus once again depending on its tattered Begging Bowl!Recommend

  • Patwari

    “…knows how to fight dirty…” what does that mean? He will come out of the
    White House, on the lawn, with a gurkha knife clenched between his new
    capped teeth, a sword in each hand, to fight? Will he do a lathi charge?
    Will he wrestle with the security people out there to escort him to the helicopter?
    Does not make any sense.
    See, this Trump short reign is thing is over.
    In spite of your prayers for Trump.Recommend