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USA: A polarised society

It was a year in which the midterm election results revealed the growing polarisation of the country’s two major political camps, and highlighted the alarming contradictions that have existed in US society for some time.


   Ivette Fernández


When Joe Biden arrived at the White House in January 2021, many analysts predicted that his understanding with the US Congress would last only until the mid-term elections the following year.

When Joe Biden took office as president, the winds were in his favour as the Democratic party retained a majority in the House of Representatives in the 2020 elections, and won supremacy in the Senate for the first time since 2012. However, according to recent historical trends, at least one of the two chambers of the bicameral legislature is usually against the president at some point in his administration, and with Biden there was no indication that things would be any different.

In the mid-term elections – which ended in a kind of referendum on the incumbent president – Americans had the chance to express how well or poorly Biden had performed until 2022.

His first major obstacle was the sharp decline in his popularity after the disorderly withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

Its approval rating plunged below 50 per cent in mid-2021 and fell further to just over 30 per cent in the first four months of 2022.

This was compounded by the growth of consumer price indices in the country which, in July this year, rose to their highest level in four decades at 9.1 per cent.

In addition, Biden’s political detractors linked the increase in migrant arrivals at the southern border to rising crime in the nation and the growth of violence.

Against such a backdrop, everything seemed to indicate that November of this year would confirm the historical trend of a very unfavourable result for the ruler.

However, other factors came into play and, in the end, the Democratic Party retained the Senate and narrowly lost supremacy in the House of Representatives.

Abortion and democracy

The conservative-majority Supreme Court struck down federal protections for the voluntary termination of pregnancy and provoked anger among many of the nation’s women.

This was then campaigned on by the Democratic side, which promised to defend the practice of the procedure at all costs.

Another contentious issue was the defence of democracy after a mob tried to stop the certification of the legitimately elected president’s victory on 6 January 2020 at the Capitol itself.

In addition, the increase in political violence, mainly emanating from the extreme right, also nuanced the scenario and may have contributed to the balance of power tilting less towards the conservatives, according to analysts.

A review of the election results, however, shows how much the current administration was helped by Trump’s intervention in key political races.

Despite having a large number of supporters, Trump was far from powerful because many of his higher-profile bets were lost, such as senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, or gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake and upper house challenger Blake Masters, both from Arizona. Pundits concluded that Biden took advantage of Trump’s unfavourable balance sheet, whose meddling resulted in a bad influence on the Republican Party’s direction and brand.

He did do something to win votes, however, and the plan to alleviate student loan debts and the Inflation Reduction Act, which will come into effect in 2023, can be mentioned here.

After 8 November, the Democrats managed to hold on to the Senate, while of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 222 went to the Republicans, leaving their opponents 213, nine fewer than they had when they entered the contest.

With the lower house controlled by conservatives, the remaining two years of Joe Biden’s current term will not be without obstacles.

In addition to questioning provisions already taken by the administration, the legislature will seek to implement an agenda of its own, in this case a plan entitled Engagement with the United States.

The strategy seeks to cut government spending to lower inflation – without specifying the ways – stop more immigrants at the southern border, increase parental freedom of school choice and maintain policies restricting abortion, they said.

The biggest risk faced by liberals, however, is the possibility that their opponents will attempt to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and even the president himself, as some members of Congress suggested they would do.

After these last elections, in which Trump lost and Biden did not win, the most resounding success is attributed by experts to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, now, according to experts, Trump’s most serious rival among conservatives, if both decide to enter the 2024 presidential race. PL

(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: Pixabay

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