A new day for democracy in the US

Zakaria Osman in Washington DC, Wednesday 16 Nov 2022

The House is likely to be held by the Republicans, the Democrats are on their way to controlling the Senate, and the run-off in the state of Georgia holds the key to the final results.

A new day for democracy in the US
A Florida Republican MP holds his son as he celebrates winning the re-elction at an election night a party (photo: AP)

 

In the midterm elections for the US Senate, the two swing states of Arizona and Nevada have come out in favour of the Democrats, adding to the Democratic Party victory in the third swing state of Pennsylvania and meaning that the Democrats have won a total of 50 seats compared to 49 for the Republicans.

The outcome of the run-off scheduled in Georgia on 6 December between Republican candidate Herschel Walker and Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock is expected to end the race for control of the upper chamber of the US Congress after one of the two parties wins the seat in this swing state and the final one in the larger race.

The first and most likely scenario is for the Democrats to win the Senate seat in Georgia, making the total number of their seats in the upper chamber go up to 51 and giving them a continued razor-thin majority. The second and less likely scenario is that the Republican candidate will win the Senate seat, leading to a tie between the two parties in the Senate with 50 seats each.

If the race results in a Senate divided between the two parties in this way, the Democrats having 50 seats and the Republicans also having 50, then this will mean that Vice-President Kamala Harris will be able to cast the tie-breaking vote in favour of the Democrats, as the case has been since the 2020 elections.

Therefore, while the run-off in Georgia on 6 December will be the vote that will decide the final outcome of the race for control of the US Senate, in both scenarios it will be under Democratic control.

Last Saturday, the swing state of Arizona gave the 49th Senate seat to Democratic Party candidate and former astronaut Mark Kelly who defeated his Republican rival Blake Masters. The Democrats also succeeded in seizing the Senate seat in Nevada after their candidate, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who fought a difficult race to maintain her seat, defeated Republican rival Adam Lax-alt, who failed in his attempt to take it from her.

In Georgia, the state decided to carry out a run-off between the candidates of the Democratic and Republican Parties on 6 December according to its electoral law, which allows it to take such a step if none of the candidates secures the 50 per cent of the vote required to win the seat in an earlier round of voting.

The polls suggest that the Democratic candidate is likely to win the Senate seat in Georgia because the votes that the independent candidate, who belongs to the Libertarian Party, got in the first round of the Senate elections in this state are most likely to be cast for the Democratic candidate in the run-off.

This outcome is expected because two per cent of the electorate voted for the independent candidate in the first round, and many believe that the Libertarian Party’s principles are similar to those of the Democrats.

As for the outcome of the race between the parties for control of the House of Representatives, it seems that the Republican Party is moving towards controlling this by a razor-thin majority, having thus far won 211 seats compared to 204 for the Democrats.

It is expected that the race will be settled soon and the final winner announced, most likely the Republicans.

The most important question now that the results of the midterm elections are almost in, is, what effects the changing scene in the US Congress will have on the policies of President Joe Biden during the remaining period of his tenure. An additional question is what effects it will have on the fortunes of former Republican Party president Donald Trump.

The most likely option for Biden is for him to sit down as soon as the final outcomes of the elections are announced with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to agree with them on how to run the country’s affairs smoothly and without disruption.

It is likely that the Republicans will accept Biden’s negotiations because they are well aware that two out of the three decision-making agencies in Washington are now in the hands of the Democrats, namely the White House and the Senate.

They are also aware that their simple majority in the House will not lead to any changes in Biden or his party’s policies. If the Republicans try, for example, to enact new legislation, it will have to be approved by the Senate and signed by Biden in order for it to become law. Even the president’s judicial, diplomatic, or other appointments must be approved by the Senate and not the House that the Republicans will likely lead.

All this is not just analysis, but the result of facts dictated by the outcomes of the midterm elections. Both parties should accept and deal with these facts in a professional way. The speech that Biden delivered last Thursday backs this analysis, especially when he hailed the outcome of the midterm elections, describing it as “a good day for democracy and a new day for the United States.”

He said he was ready to work with the Republican opposition in Congress and that he was open to all good ideas, whether they came from the Democrats or the Republicans. He added that he would soon invite the Republican opposition leaders to meet him at the White House, with everyone being aware that the reason for this meeting is to reach agreement on how to conduct matters and keep the wheel of political action turning.

It is possible that the midterm elections results, leading to a Congress that is divided between the Democrats and Republicans, will dissuade Trump from announcing his candidacy for the presidency in the 2024 elections, as he has previously hinted, unless he is determined to run in the presidential race regardless of recent developments and despite the failure of the “red wave” of his party that the Democrats succeeded in halting in the midterm elections.

It is clear that the real winner of the midterm elections is not the Democrats or the Republicans, but the American voter. It is the American electorate that spoke out loud and clear in these elections and succeeded in making its voice heard while preserving US democracy and countering partisan polarisation and political agendas.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 November, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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