Trump, Democrats split spoils in mid-terms

Thursday November 8 2018



Karoli Ssemogerere

Karoli Ssemogerere 

By Karoli Ssemogerere

President Donald Trump’s Republicans have lost control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats. More than 30 House seats changed hands. Democrats easily picked off Republicans in New York, Pennsylvania and Texas and snatched a few other victories in red states like Kansas.

Republicans on the other hand held the United States Senate. Early returns show Republican pick-ups in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota padded to their majority in the upper chamber. Some hard fought races ended the other way, Texas failed to fall even though the loser Beto O’Rourke is likely to emerge as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

Democrats snatched Nevada a key western state in the Democratic firewall where Democrats control all states from Nevada up to Washington state at the Canadian border.

Nancy Allesandro Pelosi, 78, daughter of a former mayor of Baltimore, who joined politics after raising a family, is likely to return for the second term as Speaker after confounding critics who wished her out after coming short in successive elections, including 2016 when Hilary Clinton ran and defeated Republicans in a record 25 house districts. Democrats have Hilary to thank for uprooting long established republicans who were exposed last time round.

Trump survived the rout, or so-called blue wave riding hard on a much sounder economy, record growth, record low unemployment even though some of his other policies are starting to cause heartburn in his party. Farmers are reeling from trade wars with China and Canada. The tension with Iran has already spiked up the price of crude oil. Trump has rattled US allies in NATO with a threat to cut military expenditure. Trump is not particularly liked in Europe, or China but that has not dimmed his energy at all.

There are a few noises about him and the Russia investigation, but these won’t come to much with the Upper Chamber firmly in Republican control. Across the world, the diminution of the erstwhile American interventionist policy has calmed some nerves. The excitement of arriving in office has diminished. Trump’s earlier moves like moving the US embassy to Jerusalem have not sparked the bloodbaths that were predicted.

Even in the current diplomatic embarrassment being suffered by his allies, the Saudis, he is hardly blemished. In fact, the global outrage against Saudi Arabia has helped Trump highlighting Saudi’s human rights’ excesses at home and in Yemen.

Democrats have ended up in another fix. They have to go south for a nominee. Losing US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke has charmed the Democratic base and coming within hairs of ousting Senator Ted Cruz, an ambitious Republican. O’Rourke’s statewide run ousted a few Republicans in the lower chamber. His energy may put Texas in play in 2020.

No path to the White House exists for Republicans outside Texas, Georgia and Florida. Republicans have held onto Florida by thinning margins, but have successfully blocked Democrats from statewide office and the White House coming first across the finishing line.

Beto, a charmer, seems to have that formula that may upend Republicans in both Florida and Texas. All candidates coming forth to oppose Trump have been easily defined by him. Trump’s sharp tongue has landed on a few opponents like Senator Elizabeth Warren making them non-starter in a general election. In the House, a younger, fresher more diverse urban Democratic membership is likely to land punches but they won’t stick.

The Democratic majority in the House will have a short-lived honeymoon. The base has an expensive wish-list, higher taxes, entitlement reform, healthcare, minimum wage, etc.
These will run into Republican opposition, lower taxes, deregulation, trade deals, etc. If the Democrats turn to their pet project, investigations, they may stir up the pot a bit, but it is now unlikely that Special Prosecutor Mueller has anything bigger on Trump.

Mr Ssemogerere is an attorney-at-Law and an advocate. [email protected]

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