The House Turns Blue

The United States of America has always been in the news for its political vagaries. Being a world power, the impact that the USA’s political atmosphere has in the rest of the world is phenomenal. We see that the value of the dollar can be affected by a single statement from the President. Companies make investment decisions based on political situations. The functioning of the Wall Street depends on what the country promises its investors. All of this is determined by the political landscape of the United States of America. We witnessed that the 2016 elections took a lot of people by surprise. While the popular vote was in favour of Hillary Clinton, the candidate representing the Democrats, the Republican candidate Donald Trump won the elections by the votes of the Electoral College. Hillary is the only woman to have been elected as a candidate for the post of president and also the only person to have lost the votes of the Electoral College, in spite of winning the popular vote with such a high margin.

The divide in the 2016 elections was far more critical than ever. While Trump drove home the agenda of Making America Great Again by promising to bring back manufacturing jobs, tax cuts for the rich, strong hold on immigration and the like, Hillary ran the campaign more on Obama’s lines of better LGBTIQ rights, social welfare, better wages, and a foreign policy that sought to promote globalisation and harmony. However, both the candidates lost a lot of their credibility in the process. Trump was accused of sexual misconduct on multiple occasions, all of which he has denied, and Hillary’s credentials stooped low after her misusing servers and mails, and with her calling Trump followers deplorable racists.

After all that was said and done, Trump’s victory emerged in a series of hard line stances. It started with the travel ban from seven Muslim nations and went on to the immigration control, harsh climate change policies such as pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. In the economic front, tax cuts for billionaires, trade war with China, and finally clamping down on human rights issues such as reversing laws that protect transgender rights are some developments after Trump’s election. All these measures tended to benefit only one section of the society. This resulted in every one out of five Americans being involved in some form of protest against Trump. ActBlue, an online platform collected close to 1.3 billion dollars in anti-trump fundraising events which was five times higher than what they could have collected in 2014. All this activism does not necessarily show that the people are untied against Trump and are determined to bring about a change.

This is entirely the point where Midterm elections started to gain traction. Women took out to social media, celebrities actively advocated that the people must vote to make a change. To understand why the Midterms could be crucial, we need to know the structure of the Congress. The Congress consists of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House has certain powers including initiating all bills related to revenue, the impeachment of federal officers who are sent to trial before the Senate, and in cases wherein no candidate receives a majority of electors for President, the duty falls upon the House to elect one of the top three recipients of electors for the office, with one vote given to each state for that purpose.

The Democrats taking over the House has important implications. The unilateral actions that Trump had been taking with respect to important issues such as climate change, immigration and LGBTIQ rights will no longer have a free pass. They will have to win the support of the Democrats in the house. Moreover, the Democrats can even introduce an article for the impeachment of Trump. Such is the power of the house. In spite of the Senate still remaining a Republican strong hold, the success in the House of Representatives has offered more leverage to the Democrats.

Women from in astounding number and from various backgrounds have come into power this time. Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Republican Marsha Blackburn is Tennessee’s first female Senator and Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davis became the first Native American women elected to Congress. Apart from this we saw many bisexual, openly transgender women standing for office. Rashida Tlaib was in fact born to Palestinian immigrants from Detroit. It is ironic that Trump holds offence against immigration when immigrants, especially women, are running parts of the country. Another historic moment was the 29 year old activist from Bronx Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s election to the Congress. She is the youngest women to have ever been voted into that post. She runs her narrative on a tenet she describes as democratic socialism. It is heartening that these women have advocated for Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage rate, housing as a human right, waiving off student debt and measures that support the working class.

We see that even within the Democrats, due to the stronghold of progressive candidates such as Sanders and Cortez, the party has become more left leaning. In essence, the election results show that Trump needs to stay grounded. However, all is not good for the voters as there had been voter suppression in states like Georgia to make sure Stacy Abrams, a black woman candidate, does not win. Just like elections in any other nation, the process is subject to rigging and other malpractices. If administrative glitches and the role of muscle power are reduced further we will soon be on a trajectory that will actually make America great again.

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