The American political system has long been known as one of great political partisanship and divide. No time else is this more relevant than today. Or perhaps maybe tomorrow, the 6th November 2018: the U.S. mid-term elections. It has been nearly two years since the election of real-estate mogul and reality TV host Donald Trump, sparking a historic and unprecedented shift in American politics. Whatever you may think about him or his policies, it is undeniable that he has permanently altered the U.S. political system for generations to come. His fiery charges of anti-immigration, economic protectionism, and all-in-all “America First” ideology has spread throughout the entire Republican Party, with members of the House and Senate either adopting or supporting his new message. However, the backlash has proven strong. Young people, minorities, women, and other groups beckon there is a “blue-wave” coming, or a large surge in Democratic Party support this mid-term election day. They are adamantly against what President Trump stands for, and some are even calling for criminal investigations or possible impeachment proceedings to take place due to alleged Russian collusion and/or obstruction of justice in this investigation. Political pundits all across the United States are labelling this as one of the most important elections the country has ever faced: these mid-term elections are a test on not only President Trump and his ideology, but a test on the very soul and values of America. Will American voters stick by their president and his radical changes, or will they take part in this “blue-wave” and vote against him?
To understand why these elections are so important, we must know the structure of the American political system. The government is made up of three main branches: the Presidency (executive), the Congress (legislative), and the Supreme Court (judicial). During the mid-term elections, only members of Congress are on the ballet. The U.S. Congress is made up of two houses, the lower house called the House of Representatives, and the upper house called the Senate. Most of the candidates are from the House of Representatives, who are elected every two years, while there are only some candidates from the Senate, who are elected every six years. To add, many state-level representatives, mayors, and governors are also on the ballet this mid-term election. So, this Tuesday 6th November 2018, all 435 House seats are up for grabs, as well as 35 Senate seats and countless numbers of state-level seats. As polling aggregation stands right now, the Democratic Party stands a good chance of winning the House, as large amounts of Republican incumbents are leaving or retiring. The Senate, however, is a complete tossup; we will likely find out how this race goes on the night of election day. A likely outcome of this mid-term election is a Democratic-controlled House with a Republican-controlled Senate, effectively leading to complete gridlock. This result is backed-up by previous mid-term elections, where historically the opposing party to the president gains the most seats. To add, President Trump has historically low approval ratings among the general public, and on a generic party ballet, the American public support the Democratic Party over the Republican Party by nearly 7%. Some key races to watch for are Beto O’Rouke (D) vs. incumbent Ted Cruz (R) for the Texas Senate seat, the incumbent Steve King (R) House race in Iowa, who has plummeted in the polls for alleged far-right neo-Nazi ties, and the Florida and Georgia governor’s race, with charges of racism and widespread voter suppression marring both races.
The mid-term elections are perhaps the most contentious and politically-charged in decades. President Trump has undoubtedly inflamed tensions in the U.S. He has led chants of “Lock her up!” at his rallies against political opponents, he said that there were “fine people on both sides” at a Neo-Nazi white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, he has labelled the media as the “enemy of the American people”, and as of late has fear-mongered against the so-called “migrant caravan” from Central America. Instead of using Bill Clinton’s famed “It’s the economy stupid!” approach to winning American voters over, President Trump and the rest of the Republican Party have focused their attention on a several-thousand person “caravan” of migrants walking through Central America towards the U.S. to apply for asylum. In the final days of the election season, the president has attacked a group of people thousands of miles away for his final argument to sway voters. He, among with other members of the Republican Party, have even suggested that this “caravan” is being funded by Jewish Hungarian/American billionaire George Soros. A long-time contributor to left-wing progressive parties/institutions, George Soros has been a dog-whistle for anti-Semitic far-right fringe groups in the U.S. and Europe for decades. This rhetoric was pushed so far during the lead-up to the mid-term elections, that a Florida man sent a package bomb to Soros last month. However, that was only the start. A total of 15 package bombs were sent to left-wing figures, former presidents, media outlets, and other critics that President Trump repeatedly called out as enemies. Fortunately, no bomb went off, but it speaks truth to the extreme polarisation of the country as of late. Unfortunately, however, one day after the package bomber was caught, a Pennsylvania man opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 people and injuring a further 7. He claimed, as the President and Republican Party did, and continues to do, that George Soros, a Jewish man, was funding a migrant “caravan” to infiltrate and destroy American society. To both of these horrible events, the Trump Administration continued their attacks against the media and the migrant “caravan”. Many claimed that the package bombs were a “false-flag operation” by Democrats to influence the elections. The White House Press Secretary refused to blame the synagogue terrorist attack on anti-Semitism, but rather “anti-religion” against “Judeo-Christian values” in modern America, using “left-wing talk show hosts” as an example.
It is clear that the soul and values of America are being voted on this coming election day. Although a “blue-wave” is touted by the Democratic Party, polls suggest that it may not be as big as they would like. The fiasco surrounding the Brett Kavanaugh hearing has energised Republican voters, along with threats of a migrant “invasion”. Thus, as was the case in 2016, we must take extra care to not take 100% confidence in polling. Several questions remain to be answered before this election. Will young people come out and vote? Will our voting systems be secure from potential interference or hacking? How will President Trump respond if the Democratic Party gains a majority? How will the Democratic Party respond if the Republicans retain their majority? Will the Democratic Party launch impeachment proceedings against President Trump? What will an embolden Republican Party do if they win? We will surely find answers to these questions tomorrow. Keep your eyes peeled for tomorrow’s U.S. mid-term elections.