The most abiding fact about the Trump era is that it has made America evaluate ‘political’ assumptions. The most relevant example is the midterms, where the only conspicuous assumption is that American politics has never been more divided, and less understood.
Never mind what is to come, but how did we even get here?
CNN will tell you that midterms mean impeachment, and FOX will tell you that midterms mean 2020. Trump and his political rhetoric will have you believe that the midterms were a solid victory – despite losing the House. Somewhere between conspiracy and political opinion lies the facts.
The most important fact being, the Democrats won the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, but lost the seats in the US Senate. This means that the Democrats failed to win the more weighted races that could’ve represented a more weighted takedown of President Trump.
Two years after complete Republican control in congress, the Democrats won 27 seats in the House. This means that they are guaranteed a majority of at least two seats. Nonetheless, achieving a ‘blue wave’ is incredibly slim after these results. The results showed how extinguished the Republican vote is, especially in Texas, meaning that the Republicans having control of the Senate essentially indicates a bigger majority.
The House results were a win for the Democrats, because it means more legislative power against the opposing party. But the results prove that they are no match for Trump’s divisive campaigning tactics. In the weeks prior to the midterms, these tactics helped Republicans win the key Senate races, where the Democrats had hoped to keep up.
This isn’t really a shock, considering how heavily favored Republican Senate was in 2016. The map for the 2018 midterms drew similar conclusions, as the Republicans were projected to keep their majority in the Senate. The Senate is the upper house, which means without majorities in both congressional houses, the Democrats will struggle to block any of the current administration’s political agendas. Having the Senate means that Trump will still be able to pick the Supreme Court and the Cabinet.
Having the House will mean that the Democrats will have more money, support and control over the chamber’s committees. This could potentially mean that investigation into an impeachment could be pursued against Trump, but in reality, there are major upper obstacles. If the House can manage to instigate an impeachment, it would mean that there would have to be a House vote, which would cause monumental voter backlash for the Democrats. Even still, if the House instigated this impeachment, two-thirds of the Senate would have to favor it – which is unlikely considering Republicans have strengthened their control over the Senate.
Whether it is the nuclear deal with Iran, Healthcare, building a wall or Russia, losing control of the House is not really a disaster for President Trump – rather a headache or delay in his political agenda. The Democrats won in the sense that they have the measured power to derail the Trump legislative idiosyncrasies for the next two years, and perhaps a subpoena power to investigate Trump’s personal affairs and errors.
Historically, the midterm results aren’t anything too unpredictable. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and the infamous Richard Nixon all lost one or both houses in their first midterms – and went on to be re-elected.
These midterm results may just feel so postmodern because they are emblematic to the lack of ‘united’ that is found in the United States. Trump will unlikely learn that he needs to appeal to younger, and more suburban voters in order to win a re-election. The Democrats will unlikely learn that they must reach out to the bluer collar voters with more intersectional candidates. Anything bipartisan in American politics is too far gone, and the spectrum between the two opposing parties is only going to grow and become harder to read. Perhaps, the real puzzling question to ask after the midterm results is the question of whether we learned anything from the 2016 election: are we too busy reading headlines that we are learning the wrong lessons?
Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo