The impact that the midterm elections will have on the future of United States domestic politics, in addition to its global implications will be absolutely incredible. That’s the view of the former CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission who now serves as an adjust lecturer in law at Columbia University in New York.
Kayum Ahmed believes the Congressional elections – exactly one week away – will provide not only a barometer on the presidency of Donald Trump but also on the opposition Democratic Party as a whole.
“But because his name is Donald Trump, you have the haters and they continue to hate… foolish and very stupid people.”
It’s an election that will determine which party – Republican or Democrat – will control the House of Representatives and the Senate. And after suffering one of the most stunning presidential electoral losses in recent memory in 2016, Democrats are desperate for a good showing.
An adjunct lecturer at Columbia Law School, Kayum Ahmed says “The midterm elections are incredibly important given that they are really a barometer for what is going on in the country at the moment. I think it offers an opportunity for a bit of a referendum on Donald Trump and his presidency thus far. At the same time there’s also another dimension which is incredibly important which is – it offers an assessment of the Democratic Party and how well or how badly they are performing. So on the one hand, it’s an assessment of Donald Trump’s presidency, on the other its also a reflection on what is currently happening within the Democratic Party which doesn’t seem to be able to get its act together.”
Ahmed believes there are three major issues in this election – healthcare, the economy and trade, and the question of immigration. But says Democrats have missed an opportunity to frame this election around questions of racial justice.
“One of the major underlying issues that’s causing these divisions is Donald Trump’s inherent racism, his white supremacist approaches to things and not talking about this seems to be a huge issue. Now it could play out of course in various ways – the healthcare issue could carry the Democrats and they could win the house. On the other hand by alienating and marginalizing groups and populations that have historically been marginalized, we tend to find that possibly there would be a shift again towards the Republican Party, who seem to be incredibly enthused about this upcoming election.”
Midterm elections historically favour the Republican Party due to the strong turnout of older, white, conservative voters with fears the blue wave predicted months ago might well be curbed by a red tide, as Ahmed explains.
“This is one of the major difficulties, there are people far (more) knowledgeable than I am who constantly get these predictions wrong and I’m not about to make any of those predictions but I think that the impact that this election will have on the future of US politics is absolutely incredible. And I do think a lot of attention is going to be paid to this – next week there are going to be election parties, a number of people are going to focus on this issue and I do think its going to determine the next couple of years for the US, not only locally but I think the global impact that this is going to have is going to be considerable.”
All 435 House of Representative seats are in play in this election with 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested. Ahmed cautiously warns of a global shift to the right.
“Trump’s manifestation is probably related to a much deeper fabric that’s been woven into the constitutional dispensation of this country for many, many years. I think that the questions of race, which are a huge issue, questions of marginalization and immigration, which has become another major issue, are reflections of a move not only in the US, but it seems globally, towards the far right. We saw the election very recently in Brazil, what’s happening in Europe and I think this is symbolic of a much deeper challenge which reflects on the one hand major issues for the right but also on the other, the lack of cohesion on the left in order to challenge these issues – so I think it is a wake up call for those on the left, for Democrats and Liberals who have possibly been taking things for granted for too long and they’ve marginalized a number of people in that process and I think it’s time they get their act together in order to take on what’s currently happening across the world.”
Going into this election, Republicans have a 51 to 49 majority in the Senate but working in their favour is that 26 of the 35 Senate races up for grabs are held by Democratic incumbents, many in states won handily by President Trump in the Presidential election – think Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri or Florida as just some examples.
So the focus has now become taking charge of the House of Representatives where Dems must flip 24 GOP seats for that to happen – with current predictive models given them a more than 86% change of achieving just that.