Expert Explains | Midterms 2022: In battle for the soul of America, what’s at stake for the stars and stripes?

In many ways, the midterm elections in the United States on November 8 are as important as the presidential elections two years ago. What’s at stake is control of the US Congress, a key legislative and largely elected body.

More importantly, the results of the election could undermine the legitimacy of the Joe Biden administration and signal the strong return of Donald Trump and Trumpism in all its Frankenstein-like guises. If there is, in a very twisted way, a possible star in the political sky, it is Trump, and the stripes are represented by the deep lines of error that he has dug inside the country.

This election is the battle for America’s life; struggle to find out what is creating today’s ‘America dream’. And the polls show that the Democratic Party may not be able to win this battle.

The Republicans could win the House of Representatives decisively, and the Democrats would have a strong chance to retain control of the Senate. Recent evidence suggests that the formation of the Senate will depend on the results of four critical states – Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona – and possibly New Hampshire.

American politics over the next two years, in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, may witness an unprecedented level of conflict in recent history.


For Democratic voters, and for the rest of America, the main problem in the election is the deep conspiracy of Trumpism to destroy democracy, led by those at the extreme end of the Republican Party who believe in a “great conspiracy” that Trump did not commit. he lost the last presidential election – it was stolen from him.

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Today, many Democratic voters would argue, it’s Trump who dominates the Republican Party, not the other way around. A good midterm result would make it more difficult to rule him out of the presidency two years from now. To those who oppose Trump and his policies, including neo-conservative scholar Robert Kagan:

“This is how the party comes to America, not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been greetings, and riots of violence) but with a televangelist, a fraudulent billionaire, an egomaniac book ‘injecting’ popular anger and insecurity, and with a party the whole of national politics – out of ambition or party loyalty, or out of fear – falls in line behind him.”


However, for many voters, the economic situation remains a major concern. A New York Times poll found that 26% of voters see the economy as the biggest problem facing the country – more than any other issue, and CBS News published a poll that found “65% of voters believe the economy is getting worse and 68% say the Biden administration will end.” do more to deal with inflation.”

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The electorate is deeply divided along racial and ethnic lines, and there is a wide economic gap between rich and poor. On any matter that matters, there is a Manichean gap between Trump’s supporters and the rainbow coalition that stood with Biden: economic instability, racial tensions, wide disparities in health care, concerns about the loading of the courts (including the Supreme). Court), and violence in the streets of many cities including Minneapolis (where the “murder” of George Floyd inspired the Black Lives Matter movement), Atlanta, Dallas, Cleveland, Raleigh, Los Angeles, and New York.


The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in ‘Roe v. Wade’, deeply embedded in the American psyche, was replaced earlier this year. The case was about the approval of a Texas law that made it illegal to have an abortion under certain circumstances, but it was included in larger issues related to elections and women’s rights. Roe established constitutional protections for women’s right to make decisions about their own health, paving the way for greater political, social and economic involvement of women in public affairs. The Conservative supermajority in the Supreme Court has now removed that legal protection.


Scholar Robert Reich, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, wrote recently: “Before this election, I am worried that the Republicans will accept and follow their preferences – against the political right in the dark days of Senator Joe McCarthy’s communist witch-hunt in the beginning for the 1950s; against civil rights in the late 1950s and early 1960s; against Medicare in the mid-1960s; for small government in the 1970s; tax breaks for the wealthy in the 1980s; for a balanced budget in the early 1990s; against universal health care in the late 1990s and early 2000s; against LGBTQ rights in the 2010s. Today I’m not too worried about what Republicans like. Today I worry about the survival of our democracy. “

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In 1968, Paul Simon wrote his American song, while traveling through the United States with his friend Kathy: “‘Kathy, I’m lost,’ I said, even though I know she’s sleeping / I’m empty and I’m in pain and ‘I know why / Counting the cars on New Jersey Turnpike / They all come to see America / They all come to see America / They all come to see America.

Tuesday’s vote will be about gaining – or losing – America.

Mattoo, one of India’s leading commentators on international politics and India’s foreign policy, is Professor at the School of International Studies at JNU, and Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne. He is a former Visiting Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.


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