Midterm, schmidterm – Trump is sure to win a second term now
- Yonden Lhatoo can’t help feeling impressed by the one-man political juggernaut that is the US president, arguing that he is well on his way to re-election in 2020, and the midterm election setback is no big deal
Christmas hasn’t arrived yet, but all those people out there who despise US President Donald Trump – and they are legion – are already decking their halls with boughs of holly to celebrate after his Republican cronies and enablers lost the House of Representatives to the Democrats in the recently concluded midterm elections.
But while the president’s detractors are singing “fa-la-la-la-la”, they may be well-advised to pause mid-pirouette and reflect on the reality that his days in the White House are far from numbered as a result, never mind the breathless euphoria in the liberal media over “the beginning of the end for Trump”. It’s all wishful thinking, of course.
Even if Trump himself was not on the ballot, this was indubitably a referendum on his leadership, and he wasn’t far off the mark in claiming “close to a complete victory” – the president was the biggest winner in terms of his 2020 re-election campaign.
And that campaign is effectively in full swing already. Midterm, schmidterm – Trump has moved on, his eyes firmly fixed on a second term in the most powerful office on the planet, while the opposition is still busy with more pressing matters like post-election back patting.
The much-vaunted “blue wave” of Democrats turned out to be more of a weak ripple, and they barely managed to take control of the House, making modest advances in capturing seats rather than votes. That doesn’t bode well for them in 2020.
In contrast, the Republicans moved from strength to strength in the Senate, expanding and fortifying their “red wall” to shut out the opposition.
The great swell of voters repulsed by Trump’s dictatorial streak, far-right agenda, racism, lies, egotistical tantrums, pettiness, misogyny, and bullying was not enough to overcome the solid support he still enjoys among many Americans who have embraced his belligerent populist-nationalist doctrine, and are smitten by his celebrity status and overwhelming personality.
Say what you will about Trump, but there is no denying how gifted he is as a maverick politician, with an extraordinary ability to dive into the muck, wallow in it, and come up smelling of roses.
He was a one-man phenomenon on the midterm campaign trail, an unstoppable juggernaut on steroids, whipping up crowds into a frenzy with unapologetic hate and fearmongering. He made it all about himself, rather than the Republicans he was campaigning for, and he wasn’t exaggerating much when he claimed to have single-handedly reversed their fortunes in what could have been a disastrous outcome for them.
Those who are celebrating this election “defeat” would do well to remember how Bill Clinton’s Democrats were obliterated by a red tsunami in the 1994 midterm, losing both the House and Senate to the Republicans. His approval rating was not much higher than Trump’s at 45 per cent back then, yet he went on to win a decisive re-election.
Barack Obama suffered an even bigger thrashing in the House in the 2010 midterm, although his Democrats held on to the upper chamber. Again, with a similar approval rating, he swept back into a second term. So will Trump.
As for Congressional oversight, investigations and subpoenas to frustrate Trump now that the Democrats are running the House, all he has to do is blame them for everything that goes wrong with the country henceforth. And voters love a scapegoat.
“They can play that game, but we can play it better, because we have a thing called the United States Senate,” an even more combative Trump said. “They can look at us, then we can look at them and it will go back and forth. And it’ll probably be very good for me politically … because I think I’m better at that game than they are, actually.”
You’d better believe it.
Yonden Lhatoo is the chief news editor at the Post