Trump may dou­ble down af­ter midterms

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL -

The Demo­cratic Party re­cap­tured con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives that it lost eight years ago, giv­ing it more lever­age to chal­lenge Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency. The Repub­li­can Party re­tained its con­trol of the Se­nate, but it will be dif­fi­cult for Trump’s poli­cies to break through. The elec­tion re­sult sent a sig­nal that Trump’s gov­er­nance is fac­ing more con­tro­ver­sies and the Amer­i­can vot­ers wish to re­strain him.

But Tues­day’s elec­tion re­sult doesn’t amount to a turn­ing point for Trump. He still has the op­por­tu­nity to mo­bi­lize his sup­port­ers and bring Repub­li­cans to­gether to con­test a Demo­cratic can­di­date in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Obama won the re-elec­tion in 2012 de­spite the Demo­cratic Party los­ing con- trol of the House in 2010.

Now Trump faces two op­tions: ad­just or strengthen his style. The first op­tion can help him win more vot­ers in the mid­dle ground for the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. The sec­ond will con­sol­i­date his main sup­port and pass the blame onto the Demo­cratic Party for a fiercer par­ti­san strug­gle. He is more likely to choose the sec­ond.

The big­gest sus­pense will be whether the Demo­cratic Party will start im­peach­ment against Trump, us­ing its con­trol of the House. Im­peach­ment needs the sup­port of more than twothirds of sen­a­tors to work. There­fore, it has al­most no chance of suc­cess. Yet the process may still ap­peal to Democrats as it will em­bar­rass the pres­i­dent and throt­tle his re­elec­tion plan. But it will de­pend on the re­sult of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Rus­si­a­gate scan­dal.

Trump will have to face new ob­sta­cles on in­ter­na­tional is­sues that have no bi­par­ti­san con­sen­sus such as the Korean Penin­sula. Yet he can still do what he wants against pres­sure given the House’s lim­its of au­thor­ity on for­eign af­fairs. What en­dured the least im­pact from the midterm re­sults was the China-US re­la­tion­ship as the tough line on China is among top­ics on which Democrats and Re­publics can agree. Los­ing the House will hardly have any di­rect bear­ing on Trump’s China pol­icy.

What’s un­der­ly­ing de­te­ri­o­rat­ing China-US ties is the US men­tal­ity of re­fus­ing to ac­cept China’s rise. Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton have to move to­gether to re­duce over­all ten­sion in bi­lat­eral ties. If the US in­tends to change its for­eign re­la­tions, Europe will be the first. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has sig­nif­i­cantly crip­pled transat­lantic sol­i­dar­ity and cre­ated se­ri­ous con­flicts with Europe. Eu­ro­pean elites will be more than happy to see the midterm re­sults. So will be Ja­pan, South Korea and Aus­tralia. They will pin hopes on a milder at­ti­tude from Trump un­der con­straints.

It’s hard to con­clude that global pop­ulism will be thereby dis­ap­pointed. Af­ter all, the Repub­li­cans still con­trol the Se­nate and Trump is able to con­tinue pro­mot­ing Amer­ica First, just with tech­ni­cal ad­just­ments. High un­cer­tainty lingers in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

China doesn’t need to be de­luded by a per­ceived change in US pol­i­tics. We should just go about our own busi­ness.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.