Prior to becoming President, Joe Biden was a US Senator for around 36 years. He is known as Amtrak Joe as he routinely took the daily 90 minute each way train trip (on the USA’s national passenger train network — Amtrak) from his home in Delaware to Washington DC to represent his state
. If you listened to the predictions of Donald Trump and his allies, the ‘great red wave’ would ensure Biden was going to be derailed after the election with a reinvigorated Republican controlled Congress pursuing an agenda that is only partly based on reality.
Chalk one up for reality. As The New Yorker reported
There had been no red wave, never mind Donald Trump’s promised “great red wave.” Was it a red ripple or merely a red drizzle? A blue escape? Purple rain? Even Fox News decreed the results to be no more than a pro-Republican “trickle.” Whatever it was called, President Biden and his Democrats, by limiting their losses in the House to less than the average for such elections and likely keeping the Senate as well, scored an against-the-odds political upset that suggests the country remains deeply skeptical of handing too much national power to the Trumpified Republican Party.
However, The Guardian suggests we should
Expect the Republican majority to launch an array of congressional investigations ranging from the reasonable (Biden’s botched withdrawal to Afghanistan) to the grandstanding (Anthony Fauci’s coronavirus pandemic measures and Biden’s son Hunter’s laptop).
The New Yorker
Expect a battle over lifting the limit on US debt with the potential to cause havoc in the economy. Expect a possible attempt by the Maga wing of the party to impeach Biden on spurious grounds, effectively as payback for Democrats having twice hit Trump with the ultimate sanction.
also suggests that Biden will have some problems in the next couple of years.
The biggest immediate problem for Biden and the Democrats, however, is that a win for the Republicans, even if it’s not a wave, is still a win. A one-vote margin in the House would still give subpoena power to Jim Jordan as the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. It would still mean the difference between Biden being able to advance his legislative agenda with a Democratic Speaker or the impossibility of doing so with a Republican one. A narrow Republican majority in the House might even further empower the crazies in the chamber, making a Speaker Kevin McCarthy beholden to the Trumpian extremists’ every whim if he does not want to be deposed by them — if, that is, McCarthy is even able to win the Speakership.
So yes, there’s a real risk of irrational exuberance from the folks who insisted in 2021 that Biden, governing with a fifty-fifty Senate and a single-digit majority in the House, could somehow legislate his way into the progressive pantheon with the likes of F.D.R. and L.B.J.
If a train is derailed, it has come off the track and can’t move. Usually it takes quite a lot of time, effort and machinery to put the train back on the track, only to be taken slowly back to the maintenance depot and inspected prior to being condemned or returned to regular service after a long and costly repair process. Joe Biden and his Presidency has certainly not been derailed as he still has a Presidential veto which can only be overruled by a two thirds majority of the House. Unlike Australia where voting against your party’s wishes is at best frowned upon and at worst a sackable offence, the Members and Senators can and frequently do vote with the opposition party if they think they should, there is a real probability that some Republican’s will vote with Biden’s Democrats during the next two years. Biden’s train seems to be still on the tracks, but it’s certainly hit an obstacle and the driver is out of the cab inspecting the damage.
Trump and his allies also have lost the momentum for a Presidential run in 2024 that a ‘red wave’ in the mid-terms would have given. There are various reports that Trump was furious with the result, especially the apparent popularity of the Governor of Florida, Ron De Santis, a former Trump acolyte and now potentially feared competitor in the Presidential Primaries. Nevertheless, he chose to make an announcement that he was running for President in 2024, regardless of the damage the Trump sideshow could do to the Republicans’ chances in a Senate runoff in Georgia early December.
The New Yorker’s
final paragraph is telling
What we learned once again on Tuesday night is that America’s divisions are still America’s divisions. Democrats avoided a wipeout. But there was no knockout punch that would finally prove the folly of the Republicans’ Trumpian turn. Which means that democracy, as Biden would put it, is still very much on the line.
Which should be a concern for all of us on this side of the Pacific as well.
What do you think?