By GHK Lall
Kaieteur News – The US midterm elections are over; well, almost over. There were a few things learned from last week’s long building, torturously moving midterms. Some of that speak pointedly to the state of American democracy, while others reinforce the ugly underpinnings that first menaced, and still troubles, the wider American environment.
I must say that my expectations were flawed on the outcome of the midterms, with special emphasis on the Congress. I anticipated the “red wave” would be a landslide. I was wrong. But before the celebrating begins about the triumph of democracy, there must be better appreciation of what really prevailed. The thin margins, in some instances, point to how close this still unfinished contest could have gone the other way. The reactions would have had to be in the opposite direction, with much handwringing and wailing. The tide may have been held back, but for how long and to what degree is still up in the air.
In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman crossed the finishing line before Dr. Mehmet Oz, by the mere margin of 200,000 votes with over 5 million votes cast. Locally, this may impress as a huge number, but it is only a four percent differential. In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto edged out Adam Laxalt. Georgia has a few weeks to go before the runoff; while the House of Representatives is still up for grabs, but leaning slightly in favor of Republicans.
Narrow margins or otherwise, this precarious balance is saying much about the sectionalism in America, with its red rural heartland versus the blue urban East. The former being the American core, with its down home values and nativists sentiments, while the latter is of big business, the intelligentsia and, of course, its hordes of coloured immigrants. If there is anything that the midterm results laid on the table, it is that America’s polarization is pervasive, piercingly and wrenchingly so. Indeed, some candidates distanced from the former President’s divisive and corrosive rhetoric; but the undeniable fact is that many candidates who identified with his unrelenting claims and unmitigated madness came out ahead. I contend that they won because of sticking closely to his script, as combustible as it was and remains.
If so many could still win two years later using the toxic and inflammatory, then it means that there are so many tens of millions of Americans who also remain immovably fixed to what has been fed them that they bought into acrimonious, self-destructive narratives. Moreover, the uncomfortably narrow margins by which some emerged triumphant should convey how many are on the other side of the democracy that came out ahead. The far side, I insist; and I also persist in asserting a democracy that is terribly and frighteningly fragile. To think that one man, one voice, one posture in an advanced and mature polity as America can wield such fundamentalist attraction is enough to cause serious pausing and reflecting. What I walked away with is that his time and his hold are both fading, if not gone. Too extreme. Too unpalatable.
I agree that the incumbent President is a less than inspiring figure and leader; and that many Democratic candidates left much to be desired, including some that won, so woeful were their presences and platforms. So, we have the red and the blue brigades at war, figuratively speak, and the results of US midterms to ponder. Taken together, these can lead us in several directions. My preference is to highlight one small area, one grand American attribute, that surfaced and stood it in good stead on this most testing of occasions. It is what I crave to see taking some kind of grasp here.
For starters, there were a sufficient number of American voters clustered around the center, and those were the ones who made the difference between a red wave and a blue tide. The centrists and independents held their own and held things together against the chaos of an overrunning by either party. I detect a mature and stabilising block of voters. Second, battleground states considered, the precarious balance between House and the Senate forecasts some degree of legislative gridlock, a check on runaway political visions and ambitions, the call and need for compromise and balance. This is where the sometimes despised “Squad” and “Progressives” have their worth, prove the value of their presence. Third, much-feared officials at the State level, to a large part thus far, have held to a decent and reasonable standard of principle, and manifested an obligation to duty in honoring process and will of the people. This, too, speaks powerfully to independence and integrity, and standing up for what is right, fair, and the vaunted American Way.
In sum, the US midterm results are more than a testimony to democracy’s ideals, as frayed as they are. The results are a confirmation of the pivotal place of centrists in enough numbers to be difference-makers-amidst a sea of rank partisans, a hotly divided society – and officials of like mind and character to make things conclude as they did. How I wish that Guyana could be blessed by voters of such mindsets, and political and electoral officers with such independent calibre.
(The views expressed in this articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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