It will take days for America to settle on who – or what – won in the US midterm elections on Tuesday, November 6.
By seizing control of the House of Representatives in the US Congress with a 36-seat majority, the Democratic Party will have the bragging rights, at least up to the next election in 2020. Moreover, it will have a scepter to conduct innumerable House investigations into the Trump administration, and even mount an impeachment threat against Trump if it feels compelled to do that.
But then, American voters also issued in the election a manifest endorsement of President Trump and the Republican Party. The Republicans retained control of the Senate and even added three seats to their once-shaky majority. They also retained majority control of state governorship in the Union. Trump will have a clear road to navigate with his new appointments to the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary.
Stunned by the result, one journalist of the Washington Post observed wryly that the Democrats won the House but President Trump won the election.
Well, yes and no. By most measures, Republicans “beat the odds of history and expectations” in the balloting. The Democrats and mainstream media predicted that there would be a “blue wave” in the elections, meaning the Democrats would sweep the elections like a tsunami.
Instead, the election results produced a quilt of blue and red on the US map.
The Democrats can claim that Trump was repudiated in the House voting nationwide. But Trump’s supporters can, in turn, claim that he has been vindicated in the Senate voting.
Rather than arguing about which party won in the midterms, it is much more fruitful to reflect on what won in the balloting.
We think, the election produced what we call in sports as “a split decision.” The Democrats and Republicans both won one part of the election.
Former Senator Joe Lieberman was to the point when he said that the election returned a verdict for a divided government by producing a divided Congress.
In prospect now are two more years of partisan acrimony and gridlock during the Trump administration. Senator Lieberman hopes that a split Congress could “force the parties to work together and share responsibility.” They could search out the areas where they can agree.
In this way, Congress could produce sensible and bipartisan immigration reform because the majorities in both parties support a balanced package that could pass.
The outstanding challenges to end the hyper-partisanship,which was exacerbated over the past year. If the parties do not work together, the consequences for America will be great.
Perhaps, the most accurate description of the US midterm election is the one that says “a divided America has produced a divided government.”
This has grave implications not only for America, but for the world, because President Trump and America today have difficult issues and differences to conciliate and resolve in the world. Among these problems are: a serious trade dispute with China, renewal of tension with Iran over new US sanctions, differences with Russia, and forging new trade agreements with other nations in line with Trump’s America-first agenda.
And then there is the South China Sea, over which America and China have markedly divergent visions. This is of keen interest to the Philippines.
Trump and both Democrats and Republicans must learn lessons from the recent elections. No one has gotten an overwhelming mandate from the US electorate. But in history, it is sometimes in situations like this where the best US Presidents have proven their greatness.