The midterm elections are over, the result … a split-decision. The Democrats will control the House, raising the possibility of an impeachment attempt. The Senate remains under Republican control with their majority increased by one seat. The president reminded us at a post-election press conference that while he could not help in the all too numerous House elections, he did campaign in some of the marginal Senate races with almost universal success. The prospect of a second Trump term now looms large, especially as a Democrat star failed to emerge.
Among the winners for House seats were a record number of women, including New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at 29 is the youngest woman Representative ever elected. Also two Muslim women: Ilhan Omar, a Somali from Minnesota, who will be the first hijab-wearing woman to sit in the House, and Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian, who does not cover her head. It should help clarify for people that hijabs are cultural not religious and often a personal choice. Ms. Tlaib a Detroit native has extended family on the West Bank, who were shown celebrating in some news reports.
For those who expect any serious change in social or foreign policy, a reminder. Ten years ago, Barack Obama was elected and handed a House and Senate also under his party’s control. Did we get a decent health care-for-all bill? Were the banks reined in after causing a world economic crisis by peddling baskets of high-risk mortgage-backed securities and gambling on derivatives? Did we have peace? The answer to all the questions is in effect a negative.
The Glass-Steagall Act repealed by Bill Clinton that led to the disaster, was never reintroduced. We got an anemic version. It had kept us safe for over six decades from the greed of bankers by separating investment banking activities from commercial banking, and therefore preventing banks from gambling with our money.
Instead of peace, Mr. Obama called Afghanistan the good war and sent another 100,000 troops there causing more loss of life and more Afghan refugees. That was not all. He attacked Libya and destroyed the country including a complex water system bringing water from the south to Tripoli.
Libya is in chaos and has recently abandoned any pretext of national government by canceling the December election supposed to have been agreed upon by major factions in the country. Once a magnet for migrant African labor, Libya’s major export has become refugees, its own and the Africans. Europe is inundated as refugees stream in from all of America’s wars: Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and others. It’s worth noting also that the Taliban now control most of the Afghan countryside.
What will the young and newly elected do in Congress? Not much as it takes years to have the seniority to accumulate power. In the meantime, there is the pressure of elections every two years for a House seat, donors and lobbyists chipping away at any idealism, while the relative impotence of a freshman in this new university of intricate rules and procedures becomes apparent.
There is only one way to survive …