Contributed by Jim Hayes
Some may wonder what the relevance of the US midterm elections is to Australia. Unfortunately, Australia is so tied hand and foot to the American political system that whatever happens there, has an impact here. It is unfortunate, because the effect has often not been a positive one.
The rise of Trump had an impact. Whatever he says, is echoed here from some quarters. In recent times, the United States has played an important role, although not the only one, in the return of the scourge of the fascist way of looking at the world. The Klan and groups holding up Nazi swastikas and other similar symbols have been an integral part of the Trump phenomenon.
The rest of us must come to terms with the reality that the rise of this obnoxious ideology is no accident. It is being pushed by the doyens of Wall Street and a major part of the monopoly media, as exemplified by Skye and other Murdoch owned outlets. Trump belongs in their world.
There is a close association between economic and political power.
The midterm elections and the subsequent loss of a majority of seats in the Congress, is a setback for the bandwagon. Although the Democrats, who now hold the numbers, are notoriously unreliable, they now have the opportunity to use their newfound position to launch legal action against Donald Trump and his administration over their most glaring breaches of legal niceties, the inhumanity, the harm created to American society and bringing the threat of war to the world.
More important, is that the victory is the result of a wave of revulsion by ordinary Americans, which is putting on pressure the political system to change. It may well be that the election result is the beginning of the end for Trump.
Don’t believe the hype that the Republicans had a partial win by maintaining dominance over the Senate. Only a third of the Senators had to stand for re-election. The existing majority was not going to change hands. It may be a different story when the rest of the Senate has to stand.
Developments have created a rift within the Republicans, not unlike the division within the Coalition parties in Australia between the traditional conservatives and radicals. In the same way, there is a difference on whether to protect the big end of town through an iron fist or using much gentler means.
The division within the Democrats has been even more profound. The rise of Bernie Sanders proved this. The background is changing American opinion. The line of division is between those who share a vision of a fairer and more even society and that part still closely tied to Wall Street and wants to keep things just the way they are. The battle between these two forces is bound to intensify with the electoral win.
Conflict within the Democrats is not a bad thing. It is part of the process of sorting out the future direction. One of the great advantages that Donald Trump had at the presidential election was that Hilary Clinton was not a good candidate. She was compromised and did not offer anything really different.
The illusion that she lost because of the Russians or because she is a woman must be ditched and the truth faced, if the Democrats are going to look like an attractive and credible alternative. It is the wish for for such an alternative among many Americans that gave rise to Bernie Sanders in the first place.
The Democrats are now at a crossroad. Whichever way they turn is going to have a profound effect on American politics. If they embrace change, they will have the future to win. If they reject change, the party will head down the road towards irrelevancy. There is already considerable opinion that supports the creation of a third party.
Repercussions will be felt in Australia.