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US midterm elections: A referendum on Trump’s policies?

US midterm elections: A referendum on Trump’s policies?
Highlights

The US midterm elections will be held on November 6 Many knowledgeable observers are calling these midterms the most important elections in a generation That is because, even though this is an offyear election in which there is no presidential contest, the election itself is a referendum on Donald Trump

The US midterm elections will be held on November 6. Many knowledgeable observers are calling these midterms the most important elections in a generation. That is because, even though this is an off-year election in which there is no presidential contest, the election itself is a referendum on Donald Trump.

President Trump's aggressive and attacking leadership style and personality has taken a country that was already divided and driven the voters into polarised camps. He has consistently governed for and bonded with his Republican base and ignored and alienated those who vote Democratic.

Trump has intensified his polarising tactics in the run-up to election day through his comments nationally, as also in his campaigning for Republican candidates in states across the country. He has asked his ardent supporters to see each election as being about him. This has energised them and galvanised those voters who oppose him. The battle lines have been drawn. The outcome will be determined on election day.

The basic outcome will be control of the US Congress which has two chambers: The House (which has 435 members distributed based upon the populations of the 50 States) and the Senate (which has two members per State). Currently, the Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate.

The much more important outcome will be what the results will mean for the US governmental policy and practices. No matter how the Congress splits, the President's approach to foreign policy and international relations will remain nationalistic and isolationist, with the most visible impact in India being in areas such as trade, treaties and immigration.

The largest impact in the US itself will be in Congressional support for, or in resistance to, moving forward President Trump's agenda. Trump's agenda has featured downsizing and radically changing the focus of domestic agencies that Democrats value highly such as the Departments of Education, Interior, Labour, Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The most intriguing possibility is Democratic control of both chambers which would undoubtedly produce, among other things, attempts to curb Trump's immigration proposals and to reverse his Obamacare interventions. And, depending on what Special Counsel Robert Mueller finds, might even lead to articles of impeachment.

In sum, the US mid-term elections matter not because they will bring about dramatic changes in law-making but because changes in the law-makers will influence the tone and tenor of our national dialogue and the attitudes of the American public.

By Frank F Islam

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