fears about american democracy
« Let’s defend democracy. » The words appear in large red letters in one of the bay windows of the Martin-Luther-King Library in the heart of Washington. Signs and posters from the turbulent Trump years are on display, to remind us that democracy is a fight. “No Trump No Racism”said a waved flag during the mobilizations which had followed the death of George Floyd, who died of asphyxiation under the knee of a police officer in May 2020 in Minneapolis (Minnesota).
A few blocks from the great public library of the American capital extends the National Mall, the vast lawn which leads from the Capitol to the memorial in homage to Abraham Lincoln, along the gardens of the White House. It was here that a crowd of Donald Trump supporters gathered on January 6, 2021 to listen to the defeated president, before storming the Capitol in an effort to prevent elected officials from endorsing his defeat.
Nearly two years later, the then winner, Joe Biden, faces the midterm elections, always a perilous meeting for a sitting president. History shows that voters like to take advantage of the renewal of Congress to air their frustrations. Joe Biden knows this well. In 2010, when he was Barack Obama’s vice-president, the Democrats lost more than 60 seats. « A beating »had recognized the host of the White House, who saw his majority vanish in the House of Representatives and only saved a hair’s breadth that of the Senate.
The House of Representatives, taken for granted by the Republicans
Twelve years later, a new Republican wave is looming over the United States. In Washington, it is commonly accepted that the House will switch to the Republican camp this Tuesday, November 8. The Senate could also veer to the right, although its fate is more uncertain. Everything will be played out in a handful of states. Joe Biden is an unpopular president – 40% support in public opinion, like Donald Trump at this time of his mandate – and Americans are worried about rising prices, insecurity in cities.
Wave… or tidal wave? That is the question. But she’s not the only one. The fate of Congress is not the only issue at stake in this major electoral event. In 2022, it is not only a question of knowing if the tenant of the White House will have free rein to accomplish the second half of his mandate or if he will have to face a cohabitation. It will also be a question of drawing up the state of health of American democracy.
However, this November 8, 2022 could be a kind of confirmation, at the ballot box, of January 6, 2021. While many observers thought that the attack on the Capitol had sounded the death knell for the Trumpist Maga movement (Make America Great Again, ‘Make America Great Again’), the men and women in red caps are back: Nearly 300 Republican candidates campaigned on Donald Trump’s ideas, saying Joe Biden’s 2020 election was illegitimate and that the American electoral system was rigged. They are candidates for Congress, but also for key positions in many states of the country.
Candidates who could refuse to admit defeat
Almost two years after the pathetic twilight of Donald Trump’s term in office, the authoritarian temptation is still alive. More than ever ? « Many Maga candidates will be elected on Tuesday, that’s for sure, deplores a European diplomat stationed in Washington. The movement will emerge stronger from these elections. »
Hence the multiple alerts issued by Joe Biden. “This is the first election since the events of January 6, when an angry, armed mob stormed the Capitol. I wish I could say that the assault on our democracy ended that day. But I can not « said the president on Wednesday, November 2, in an address to the nation.
This strong comeback of the red caps poses many threats. This Tuesday first. Among the approximately 300 candidates hostile to the electoral system (especially when it is unfavorable to them), how many, in the event of defeat, will be tempted to do like their mentor and refuse the verdict of the ballot box? Kari Lake, a former television journalist running for governor in Arizona, refused to say she would accept her eventual defeat… Many others have done the same, like Tim Michels, aspiring governor in Wisconsin, supported by Donald Trump.
Threat for today, but also for tomorrow. Few in number so far on Capitol Hill, the radical pro-Trump deputies will weigh more heavily in the next Congress, which will take office in January and will be in office until the presidential election of 2024. “Joe Biden is right, it is a very perilous situation.explains Caroline Fredrickson, professor of law at Georgetown University. In particular because the law governing the presidential election is very old and allows manipulation by elected officials, as some tried, in vain, to do on January 6, 2021.
This phenomenon is also at work at the state level. However, the latter play a central role in American democracy, especially during the race for the White House. It is indeed the local authorities who ensure the proper conduct of the ballot, and who certify the results of the elections. In 2020, they held firm: in Georgia or Arizona, elected Republicans were able to resist strong pressure from Donald Trump, who was fighting to reverse the result in these states in his favor.
Arizona, the weak link in American democracy
But what will happen in 2024? Particularly in Arizona, on the way to becoming the weak link in American democracy. The three Republican candidates for key positions – governor, secretary of state (who oversees the polls) and minister of justice – have constantly denounced the « flight of 2020 ». Kari Lake, who a few months ago called Joe Biden a“illegitimate idiot in the White House”, said she would not have certified the result in Arizona in 2020, where Donald Trump narrowly lost. Other officials from this radical fringe could also be elected in Nevada, Michigan… So many particularly sensitive states in the perspective of the next presidential election.
In the meantime, a man is already rubbing his hands: Donald Trump. If the results of the Maga candidates are good, the conditions will be ready for his return to the front of the stage. “I will very very likely represent myself. Be ready « , launched the ex-president during a meeting a few days ago. A red tide on Tuesday could decide him to take the plunge without delay. According to his entourage, the exile of Mar-a-Lago (Florida) would consider announcing a new candidacy as of November 14.
Crucial mid-term elections
Every two years, the Americans appoint a new Congress.
The 435 representatives, elected for a two-year term, throw their seats back into play. This short mandate allows the House of Representatives to be as close as possible to the mood of the moment.
Senators are elected for six years, with partial renewal (one third of the seats) of the Senate every two years.
On the occasion of these so-called mid-term elections, other important elections take place locally. Referendums are held in several states.
Many governors are also putting their seats on the line. This year, 36 states choose their executive power, including California, Texas, Arizona and Pennsylvania.