A Midterm Of Firsts For The United States
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
The build-up to the US midterms has been a memorable one. We saw celebrities tweeting and canvassing for votes, domestic workers taking to the streets in Georgia, combative statements from the candidates and of course forceful, fear inciting speeches from the president.
A Democratic Victory?
Democrats appear to have won back the majority in the House of Representatives, with latest reports showing fifteen seats flipped with dozens left to call. This result speaks to a deep unease with Trump in middle-class suburbs that were once Republican strongholds.
Although the Democrats have taken back control of the House, it seems they have not won a majority in the Senate.
Typically, the president’s party loses seats in the first mid-term election of a presidency. This midterm, however, forecast the Democrats winning the popular vote by 8%, a bigger victory than the Republicans saw in 2010 or 2014.
This midterm saw an unusually high voter turnout compared to previous midterms. Early vote data suggests this was due to young people and those who don’t typically vote bolstering the numbers.
What Difference Will This Make To The Governing Of The US?
With the Democrats gaining a majority in the House, they will be positioned to counter the Republican legislating agenda and force Trump to negotiate over any new laws and future spending bills.
An Investigation Into Trump
The Democrats’ majority also gives them powerful tools to investigate the actions of the president and his appointees. This includes subpoenaing interviews and documents, even Trump’s long-hidden tax returns.
Republicans have reportedly been preparing for such a reckoning. In August, a memo was circulated of a spreadsheet of feared potential investigations, according to Axios. This memo reportedly included Trump’s tax returns, Trump’s dealings with Russia, James Comey’s firing and Trump’s proposed transgender ban for the military to name a few.
Firsts For The US
The midterms have brought with them a number of firsts for America. Among them is the appointment of the first openly gay candidate.
The appointment of Jared Polis, the Democratic candidate for Colorado, appears to be a sign that the previously purple state may be taking on a bluer hue. Although Colorado’s previous two governors were Democrats, both were far more centrist than Polis, who ran on a progressive platform. He campaigned for universal health care and achieving 100% goal of renewable energy by 2040.
These Women Won’t Be Grabbed By The P****
America could see as many as 100 women in the House of Representatives, breaking the current record of 84. The Speaker of the House, second-in-line to the presidency, is likely to be a woman.
This midterm has seen women of colour, faith and sexual orientation make history as the first within their states and even in their country to be elected.
One of these such firsts for the US was the election of two Muslim women, both Democrats. This first is especially significant due to the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric over the past few years. Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee, won a House of Representatives seat in Minnesota where she will succeed Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. Rashida Tlaib, a social worker born in Detroit to Palestinian immigrant parents, won a seat in a district where she ran unopposed by a Republican candidate.
Massachusetts has seen its first black woman elected to the House in the form of Ayanna Pressley. She told the cheering crowd of supporters after her election that women of colour had to create “seismic shifts” in order to break through barriers that have kept them from office. (The Guardian)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman elected to Congress, now aged 29. Her campaign ad read: “Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.”
Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Native American women to be elected to Congress. Davids, an attorney and former MMA fighter also became the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas. Haaland, a citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, is a long-time activist who ran on a progressive platform in New Mexico.
More than a third of Texans may be Latino, but until Tuesday no Latina had been elected to represent the state in Congress. Veronica Escobar, a former county judge, won her race in El Paso and Syliva Garcia trounced her Republican opponent in Houston. Garcia told supporters “It’s about time” but continued:
“But you know, it’s never been about being a first. It’s always been about being the best.” (The Guardian)
In the Senate, Republicans unseated a number of Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won in 2016. This suggests that many of the president’s supporters are still with him two years into office.
Previously, the Republicans held majority in both the House and the Senate, meaning that there was no opposition to newly proposed laws. The Democratic majority in the House changes this, providing considerable opposition to the president’s party in terms of budget proposals and new laws.
President Trump displayed his pleasure at the result by tweeting “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!” However a Republican senator close to Trump, Lindsey Graham, commented on the success of Democrats’ gains in the suburbs, admitting the party would have to address its “suburban woman problem”.
There is no doubt that this has been a closely fought battle, down to the very last per cent. Democrats hoped for a landslide, and were disappointed as the votes started to roll in.
The count stands, at present, with Democrats taking 50.3% of the House and Republicans 44.4%. Twenty three seats are still to be confirmed. In the Senate, four seats are yet to be confirmed and the percentages stand with a Republican majority of 51%, Democrats have 43% and other parties 2%.