Trump takes hit from midterms, but keeps on fight­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - Opinion -

Amer­i­can vot­ers landed a solid body-blow to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in this week’s midterm elec­tions — and hooray for that.

But while there’s much to cheer about this re­sult, it’s far from the knock­out punch so many peo­ple in and out­side the United States des­per­ately wanted. He’s still stand­ing.

Nor is it by any means cer­tain this is the be­gin­ning of the end of Trump as the world’s most pow­er­ful, and pos­si­bly dis­rup­tive, leader. More than any­thing else, his fate de­pends on what the re-in­vig­o­rated Democrats choose to do.

To be sure, the pres­i­dent and his Repub­li­cans suf­fered the great­est de­feat in Tues­day’s elec­tion when they lost their ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Be­fore these midterms — widely con­sid­ered a ref­er­en­dum on Trump’s pres­i­dency — the Repub­li­cans en­joyed a mo­nop­oly on power in Wash­ing­ton.

A Repub­li­can sat in the White House and Repub­li­cans con­trolled both Con­gres­sional cham­bers. While this didn’t guar­an­tee the suc­cess of Trump’s ev­ery whim, it made it eas­ier for him to have his way — and fed his au­thor­i­tar­ian in­cli­na­tions.

This week’s midterms up­ended the sta­tus quo by hand­ing the Democrats ma­jor­ity con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

As a re­sult, the Democrats can now block or seek changes to ini­tia­tives launched by Trump or other Repub­li­cans. Equally im­por­tant, the Democrats can in­ves­ti­gate Trump’s murky fi­nances as well as his deal­ings with for­eign gov­ern­ments, es­pe­cially dur­ing the 2016 elec­tions.

Trump’s pow­ers will be checked. Ac­count­abil­ity might await him. His road to the 2020 pres­i­den­tial race is filled with Demo­cratic pot­holes, and thank good­ness.

Even so, these midterms failed to pro­duce the ex­pected “blue wave” of Democrats that could even­tu­ally wash Trump out of Wash­ing­ton. No won­der Trump tried to claim a “big vic­tory.”

Con­sid­er­ing the dam­age he’s done in such a short time — he po­lar­ized Amer­ica by stok­ing the fires of racism and xeno­pho­bia, alien­ated its old­est al­lies, in­clud­ing Canada, started a trade war with China and co­zied up to dic­ta­tors, all while rev­el­ling in of­fen­sive, ut­terly un­pres­i­den­tial be­hav­iour — he de­served a harsher ver­dict from the vot­ers.

Yet the Repub­li­cans ac­tu­ally so­lid­i­fied their Se­nate ma­jor­ity and can use it to ob­struct the Democrats’ House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives agenda. Congress is di­vided. Amer­ica re­mains di­vided, too, which Trump will ex­ploit ev­ery way he can.

That his be­drock sup­port re­mains so large and held so well should worry ev­ery­one who be­lieves Amer­ica de­serves — and can be — bet­ter. All this de­mands se­ri­ous study and sober thought by the Democrats in the com­ing months.

We be­lieve there is an over­whelm­ing case for the Democrats to move for­ward as a party of the pro­gres­sive but mod­er­ate cen­tre rather than to hew far­ther to the left, as some newly elected and avowedly “so­cial­istDemocrats” de­mand.

For the sake of their coun­try as well as their po­lit­i­cal fu­ture, the Democrats need to stake out the mid­dle ground that can wel­come Amer­i­cans of good­will who cur­rently stand on both sides of the grow­ing po­lit­i­cal di­vide, and that in­cludes the swing vot­ers. Above all, the Democrats should re­ject Trump’s ugly, di­vide-and­con­quer tac­tics.

We hope this prag­matic yet prin­ci­pled path could heal the bit­ter di­vi­sions rend­ing Amer­i­can so­ci­ety. And, as Canada nears a gen­eral elec­tion of its own, we call on our own politi­cians to en­sure such po­lar­iza­tion never in­fects this land.

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