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Midterm Elections: American Democracy may yet survive?

The US Midterm elections took place on Tuesday the 9th of November 2022, and with the results slowly creeping in, democracy can breathe a (tentative) sigh of relief.

The technical term for US politics is chaos. The U.S has a federal government, made up of three separate powers. The one everyone knows and talks about all the time is the executive branch – that’s Biden at the moment, with his crack team of experts and well-reasoned professionals. The executive is counterbalanced by the supreme court – whose greatest hits include undoing a woman’s right to choose and entitling two justices accused of sexual assault to a life term (yes, they are both currently on the court) – and congress, which consists of the House of Representatives (house), and the Senate. As well as this federal system (the big boy government at the top), each US state is a miniature version, with their own governor (the equivalent of a state president), state supreme courts and a state congress with its own House of Representatives and Senate. Yeah, a lot.

So the mid-term elections (they happen in the middle of the presidential term) are a big deal. Within these elections every seat in the house and a third of the senate, as well a bunch of governors and every seat in statehouses across the country.

That’s a bit of background about how democracy works (supposedly) in the US, now to the specifics for this election. America’s wealthiest haemorrhoid Donald Trump is still throwing a hissy fit after losing the 2020 Presidential election to ‘Sleepy’ Joe Biden. Trump claims the election was stolen despite the complete lack of evidence of fraudulent votes, culminating in an attempted coup on the 6th of January 2021.

Despite the near overthrow of American Democracy and the unpopularity of Donald Trump as president (He lost the popular vote by over 7 million), the GOP decided to run a bunch of neo-fascist Trumpeters for House, Governor, and Senate positions. These candidates included Doug Mastriano – who was running for Pennsylvania Governor – who was part of the attempted coup on January 6th and said that women who had abortions should be charged with murder (Nice guy!) He lost resoundingly to Josh Shapiro who has promised to protect Abortion rights in the state and isn’t an insurrectionist. So, the bare minimum.

 The danger here is if these candidates win, they have a real chance to overturn the next presidential election without the effort required for a coup. Working smarter, not harder.

The mechanisms through which this ‘peaceful’ overthrow of American democracy relates to the electoral college, the stupid way (my opinion, but also… fact) the president is actually elected. I will not go into how this overthrow could happen in this article, but if you find me in Brew House we can have the most boring conversation of your life.

In short, there was (and still is) a real danger the next US Presidential election can be subverted if the Republican candidates win control of the House and the Senate (both federal and state) and state governors. To make things worse, midterms are usually catastrophic for the party in power, as voters are often displeased with the way their leaders have acted in government.

What’s happened then?

Well, the results aren’t all in as of the time of this article, they won’t all be in until mid-December (due to a runoff election for Senate in Georgia). But from the results we have so far, the Democrats outperformed the expected Republican routing. It looks like the Republicans may take the House by a slim margin, and the Democrats will hold the Senate with another slim margin (This is the federal senate and house). As well as this, a number of crucial governorships have been won by Democrats, decreasing the chances of a 2024 electoral coup.

To be clear, the Democrats have lost seats in the House this election and may yet lose Senate seats. It’s only a victory for Democrats because the polls showed a massive overperformance for Republicans. It’s the equivalent of failing an exam but getting points for writing your name.

It appears the Republican party running on a national abortion ban, reducing financial support for Ukraine and claiming any election they’ve lost is stolen wasn’t as effective as they thought. It certainly seems that issues like the overturning of Roe v Wade have galvanised Democratic support, as people fight for the rights that they were assured just 6 months ago.

So far, it’s an optimistic result for the country, democracy and the world as a whole. Once we know the full picture, we’ll be able to say more about the future of American democracy. Good news, for now.  

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