A victory for democracy, a defeat for Donald Trump
More than seven years after he stepped off the elevator to announce his candidacy for President of the United States, the era of Donald Trump and the chaotic, alternative universe of Trumpism may finally be coming to an end.
Fake news? Maybe. We say « may » because it may be foolish to predict the final demise of a man who has survived two impeachments, the damning evidence of his role in the insurgency at the United States Capitol, and faces a dizzying series of legal and civil challenges. Perhaps we should wait until there is no more evidence of political momentum. He is still teasing that he will launch a new presidential bid on Tuesday.
But if there’s one overarching conclusion from Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections being studied in Ottawa and allied capitals around the world, it’s that Trump’s MAGA mystique has become an albatross and he’s lost – enormously.
That Joe Biden was able to stand on the water’s edge and fend off an anticipated wave of Republican gains was as surprising as it was welcome.
But a vindicated US president knows the midterm election outcome could have been far worse — and indeed pollsters have predicted it will be far worse for Biden’s Democrats.
So the confetti fell sparsely in Washington and uncertainty is still the watchword for a federal government in Ottawa gauging bilateral relations over the next two years. Republicans still appear to be heading for a narrow majority in the House of Representatives and could win a wafer-thin majority in the Senate, so Biden could face two years of legislative agony.
However, there were results that should comfort the Trudeau government and Canadians who watch with anxiety the nervous contortions of democracy in the south.
Democracy may be bruised in the United States, but it has not collapsed. In fact, there are signs that he has thrived. Turnout was high, albeit driven by fear of the other in a deeply polarized country. Young voters moved. Exit polls have shown that climate change has pushed many of them to the polls. And Democrats who feared outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade would lose to traditional concerns about crime and high gas prices were wrong. The issue of abortion has mobilized millions of people and American women have been heard.
There are more Holocaust deniers in the US Congress than there were before the vote. But many Holocaust deniers were defeated on Tuesday and they didn’t deny it. They conceded. Those who remain are perhaps more likely to let Trump simmer in his own soup of lies, victimhood and grievances. The American electorate is looking forward, not backward.
Republicans openly criticize Trump for elevating inferior candidates. They’re trying to keep him out of Georgia in a Senate runoff lest he ruin the GOP’s chances there. He was openly called a « loser » (oh how it must sting) and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Job mocked him as Trumpty Dumpty who took a big fall.
Ottawa would be greatly relieved to be rid of a potential Trump return, but must now plan for two more contingencies over the next two years in American politics. A nearly 80-year-old Biden can now leave before the next election on his own terms.
The other is more of a challenge. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a smarter and more sophisticated Trump, has undeniable GOP momentum in the White House. He rebels against the « woke », ignores the media and describes himself as a crusader for freedom. This similar style was adopted in the country by the conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, but without electoral success.
Federal Liberals will now watch with suspicion a DeSantis ascendancy from afar. And they will have to deal with his echo from across the aisle, trying to stop Poilievre from turning the same style into a national appeal.