With his wings clipped, Trump may shift fo­cus

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION -

VOTER turnouts dur­ing US midterm elec­tions are usu­ally mod­est af­fairs com­pared to pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, and serve as a barom­e­ter on how the elec­torate feels about the per­for­mance of the White House in­cum­bent up to that point.

Don­ald Trump is enor­mously con­tro­ver­sial – his con­tentious poli­cies and tru­cu­lent style have var­i­ously made him en­e­mies and fans in equal mea­sure – and were sure-fire fac­tors to lift in­ter­est in the midterms.

On the eve of this week’s elec­tions al­most 32 mil­lion ab­sen­tee vot­ers had al­ready cast their bal­lots. The elec­tions were also the most ex­pen­sive in the coun­try’s his­tory, cal­cu­lated at more than R72 bil­lion for cam­paign­ing.

And what in­ter­est­ing out­comes these polls have pro­duced. His­toric can­di­dates have changed the face of Congress and state houses. Women, na­tive Amer­i­cans, Mus­lims, Lati­nos, im­mi­grants, mil­len­ni­als and LGBT can­di­dates are go­ing to make their long-awaited de­but. How­ever, the 11th Congress will look and sound more like the na­tion it gov­erns.

And in tak­ing back con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the Democrats notched some achieve­ments and now have the power to block many of Trump’s do­mes­tic pol­icy ini­tia­tives.

Oba­macare, for ex­am­ple, now looks safe. Fund­ing his grandiose Mex­i­can wall project may prove dif­fi­cult. Demo­cratic chair­man­ship of key com­mit­tees will mean tougher scru­tiny across the ex­ec­u­tive arm.

The Demo­cratic ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, which they wrested back from the Repub­li­cans, could also make life mis­er­able for Trump by, for ex­am­ple, re­quir­ing him to re­veal his tax re­turns, and sub­poe­naing the White House for pa­pers re­lat­ing to the Mueller probe into col­lu­sion with Rus­sia dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion.

They could even com­mence im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings.

For now, Trump will be able to turn his fo­cus and ac­tiv­i­ties on for­eign pol­icy. Thus, the trade wars with China, the eco­nomic wars with Venezuela and Iran will con­tinue. He has given a hint that he’s also in­ter­ested in the af­fairs in this coun­try in his in­fa­mous Au­gust 23 tweet about “farm mur­ders” and land ex­pro­pri­a­tion.

While it is good that his un­tram­melled pow­ers have been clipped back home, Trump may shift his fo­cus to his un­pop­u­lar frol­ics around the world.

Hold on tight, at least un­til the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in 2020.

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