Assault on the Senate

The Americans go to the ballot boxes tomorrow to renovate the entirety of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate in legislative elections marked by the pessimism of the voters and their disenchantment with Barack Obama. The main trophy at stake is control of the Senate, which could pass over to the Republicans, who already control the House, if they can scratch out the six seats that keep them from having a majority.

Facing a Democratic Party on the defensive, the Republican opposition has imposed among many white voters the perception of Obama as a failed president and the congressional elections as a referendum on his administration. It was Obama himself who supported this attitude of considering the vote as a judgment on the government’s achievements. Despite the sustained growth of the economy and falling unemployment rate and budget deficit, a consistent majority is seen as discouraged over the situation in the United States. This majority disapproves of presidential actions in the short-term areas, like the Ebola crisis, to long-term area, like his hesitations in foreign policy or the weak conviction in his response to jihadism. The unpopularity of the head of state has turned him into a toxin for his own senators, who have avoided the presence of Obama in support of their elections.

The polarization in the United States has been accentuated in the past years along with the pressure of the wild right of the Republican Party and the scant enthusiasm of the Democrats in defending their own policies. This evolution, which progressively prohibits the moderate vote, is reflected in the dwindling attention the legislature arouses — participation measures 40 percent — despite the importance it has in governing the country.

The acting Congress has not been characterized by their achievements. If the Republicans regain the Senate, it will not give rise to a political cataclysm. A conservative majority cannot eliminate with one swipe the work of Obama, but it can disfigure and handcuff presidential initiatives. To sink the White House agenda during the next two years, however, would be the most misguided option in a country so in need of agreement between its two biggest parties in order to resolve some of its most pressing social and political problems.

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