The biggest winner from Tuesday's Congressional elections in the United States is President George W. Bush. With his Republican Party now controlling both legislative chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate, his policies are more likely to be approved, giving him freer rein. Mr Bush should not, however, read the result as an unqualified mandate from the American people for those policies. With the system of checks and balances that has recently served the US so effectively now gone, a dangerous situation has arisen. Unilateralism, particularly regarding Iraq, but also on the environment and the International Criminal Court, is losing Washington friends. The terror attacks of September 11 should have been sufficient warning, but instead Mr Bush has talked tougher. This has meant pouring financial resources into the military and intelligence-gathering at the expense of social programmes such as health-care and education. America's economy, firmly in the grip of a post-September 11 financial slump, is also suffering. Most importantly, democracy - the proudest American achievement - is being eroded. Law and order and human rights such as free speech and civil liberties are being clipped. Lacking the balancing vote of the opposition Democrats in the Senate, Mr Bush must ensure an effective legislative process remains in place. Similarly, congressmen and women, and senators, have to make special efforts to ensure their decisions do not infringe on liberties. Without such action, democracy could get a bad name.