The ‘divided government’ is the proper reflection of the ‘divided America’ USA elections 2018: The Government and America, divided

07/11/2018

Javier Rupérez, Ambassador of Spain. From the FAES Board of Trustees


As it is customary in 'mid-term' American elections, voters have opted to split the Executive's power and give the opposition a majority in one of the legislative houses. For the second half of his time in the White House, Trump will have to deal with a predominantly Democratic House of Representatives. It is the 'divided government' that local political scientists regard as beneficial to the country's evolution: Executive and Legislative powers have no choice but to negotiate and collaborate on the questions and answers that the country demands. But the Republicans maintain and increase their advantage in the Senate, and the Democrats, while acquiring a majority, do not reach the levels at which the Republicans had previously placed themselves. Mixed feelings for some and for others.

Without the Senate at their disposal it is practically impossible for the Democrats to imagine the possibility of starting an impeachment process against Trump. But their majority in the House gives them the possibility of increasing their pressure capacity over the White House, a capacity that will surely count with the results of the investigative actions of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. And the legislative initiative is theirs again, for the first time in eight years.

The 'divided government' is the adequate reflection of the 'divided America' between rural populations that vote Republican and urban citizens that vote Democrats. It is in the electoral college that elects the president where this reality is best reflected, which was ultimately the one that brought Trump to the White House and that embodies the base that the president so assiduously cultivates. The current results, to which he has collaborated as if he were himself a candidate in the elections, will surely contribute to confirm him in his populist and divisive beliefs and tactics and to outline for the 2020 presidential elections a 'Trump-style' Republican Party. The first analysis of the individual results shows that the notion of the 'moderate Republican' corresponds to a species to be extinguished. At least as long as Trump occupies the presidential mansion.

The 2018 elections have also shown a notable increase in the willingness to participate and a no less significant increase in the variety of national, state and local representatives whose positions were in competition. Among them, mostly Democrats, African-Americans stand out, men and women, as well as the presence, for the first time in the political life of the country, of women from native tribes or Muslim religion. Also, representatives included in the LGTB collective. A specific mention deserves the Hispanic Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, who at the age of 29 has become the youngest congresswoman in the history of the House, elected by a district of New York and a visible example of a new generation of sonorous and radical democrats.

The Democrats will be right to congratulate themselves on their victory in the House of Representatives, even if the voters did not give them the electoral ‘tide’ they wanted. And the results do not exempt them from seeking answers to the unresolved issue: who, how and where will the Party lead from here to the 2020 presidential elections with a chance of returning to the White House. And Republicans will be right to settle for a defeat sweetened by the increase in their senatorial majority, while at the same time accommodating the growing reality: Donald Trump will more than likely be a candidate for the next presidential elections. All of which, if anything, demonstrates at least one important fact: the vitality of democracy in America. Alexis de Tocqueville is still right.


Translation by David Outeda

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