Midterm sanity amid the madness
After two years of political rancour and social turmoil, the US midterm elections provided an encouraging demonstration of the power of democracy in action. Election day on Tuesday was marked by a high voter turnout, close contests and a shift in the political balance.
Despite the acrimonious campaign, all Americans should take satisfaction from an outcome that shows the country’s system of checks and balances is working.
The Congress that has just been elected does more to reflect the country in all its diversity, with a record number of women elected to the House of Representatives.
The fact that both major parties have emerged from the midterms with grounds for optimism could also be good news for the US political system. If the US is to avoid a descent into even more bitter partisanship, it is crucial that voters can see that the political system still offers both sides a fair chance of victory.
Draining some of the rancour from the political debate will also be the responsibility of elected politicians. President Donald Trump has spoken of adopting a more restrained style of rhetoric, but there is little in his record to suggest he is willing or capable of doing that.
A lot will therefore depend on the newly empowered Congressional Democrats. It is both legitimate and necessary for the House Democrats to investigate allegations of corruption and malfeasance, and to protect the Mueller inquiry into collusion with Russia.
But in their own interests and, more importantly, the broader interests of the US, the Democrats should strive to use their new powers with responsibility.
If the next two years are dominated only by partisan infighting in Washington, the American public’s disillusionment with politics is only likely to grow. The Democrats themselves could become the targets of a popular backlash. /London, November 8