In the U.S., a great triumph by the minority party in the November midterms is not going to happen, and Democrats are likely to win the majority in the Senate.
The destructive populist convergence embodied by Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump in the hemisphere’s two largest democracies will survive only in the chaos they promote so they can continue to be relevant. Despite the brazenness with which both nurture fake news and bombastic headlines to give the impression they are on the crest of a wave, opinion polls project bad news in the weeks ahead. In Brazil, the current occupant of the Planalto is expected to take a beating from his archrival, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, in next month’s vote. It will not be surprising if Bolsonaro reacts to the defeat the way Trump’s followers did, invading the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, trying in vain to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s election. Such a Bolsonarist maneuver will dissipate as soon as the Superior Electoral Tribunal announces the results of the election.
Trump is not a candidate in the November midterm elections and his incontestable domination of the Republican Party should pay him dividends. But that is not what the facts show. The former president’s presence in the spotlight and his insistence on the blatant lie that Biden’s election was the result of fraud have become negatives for the Republican campaign. Add the low quality of extremist candidates supported by Trump in the fight to control the Senate, currently split 50-50 between the parties. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky publicly acknowledged this disadvantage. Political analysts from both parties are predicting a net gain of three to four seats by the Democrats. Projections suggest that the Republicans will regain the narrow majority the Democrats have in the House, albeit by a small margin that will be reversible in 2024. In other words, the great triumph of the minority party, traditional during congressional elections midway through a president’s term, won’t happen.
The bad news for Trump and his supporters stems not just from his abrasive authoritarian style, but from Biden’s legislative success in recent weeks. The approval of $370 billion in funding to fight global warming and for investment in clean energy is the largest amount of support ever approved by the U.S. and renews the country’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement, abandoned by Trump. Add to that tens of billions in additional compensation to war veterans, substantial reductions in the price of most commonly used prescription drugs, an initiative meant to resuscitate the semi-conductor industry and increased taxes on the wealthiest citizens.
The greatest boost to Democratic chances, however, came in response to a June decision by the Supreme Court, with its conservative bench installed by Trump, to overturn a 1973 ruling protecting American women’s right to abortion and delegating authority over abortion rights to the individual states. The suppression of women’s sovereignty over their reproductive rights today feeds a strong political realignment in traditionally conservative states. In Kansas, the backwoods of the U.S., a vocal majority of nearly two-thirds put the brakes on an attempt to criminalize abortion in the state last month. The mobilization of female voters provoked by the Supreme Court decision on abortion is reflected in a strong increase in the number of women registering to vote for the November election.
The recent operation by the Department of Justice to recover classified documents that Trump is said to have illegally removed from the White House when he left office and kept at his luxurious South Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, has had a similar effect. A review of the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, the domestic intelligence and security service of the U.S., revealed that dozens of the documents that had been sought by the National Archives as part of the official presidential were classified at the highest levels of secrecy to be read only by those authorized to do so in secure government facilities, something Mar-a-Lago never was even while Trump was president. People suspect that, based on remarks from former senior intelligence officials, Trump took the documents to both feed his own ego and use them for blackmailing people for political and financial advantage.
A preliminary ruling this week by a federal judge in Florida handed the former president a temporary victory when she approved the appointment of a special master to review the documents and make recommendation on the documents to the court. Animated by the judge’s decision, Trump went on the attack. “The FBI and the Justice Department have become vicious monsters, controlled by radical-left scoundrels, lawyers and the media, who tell them what to do,” Trump said. Republican candidates know that Trump is more unpopular than Biden and would prefer to see him off stage. But they will not act on that realization.
*Editor’s note: This article is available in its original Portuguese through a paid subscription.
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