Election night elevates a Republican star and encourages a Democratic one

admin | 杭州桑拿
4 Dec 2018

Mitch McConnell may have ridden a wave of Republican midterm election victories to secure the role of Senate Majority leader and fulfill his abiding political ambition on Tuesday night, but there were two other clear winners: Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and Hillary Clinton.

And despite the convincing Republican victories, American government remains gridlocked between Congress, now entirely in GOP hands, and the White House.

The result may prove to be a double-edged sword for the Republican Party. The GOP’s establishment is desperate to smooth a path for a plausible candidate in the 2016 presidential election, while its Tea Party wing remains wedded to an ideological purity that is anathema to much of the US electorate.

That divide between the two wings of the victorious party was stark last night. In his victory speech, Mitch McConnell said: “Just because we have a two-party system does not mean we have to be in perpetual conflict.”

Speaking a few hours later on CNN, the Texan Tea Party champion Senator Ted Cruz ramped up his confrontational rhetoric, demanding “full repeal” of Obamacare, declaring his party should use its new congressional power “pass law after law after law” to repeal every part of the Affordable Care Act.

The White House will doubtless defend healthcare reforms  – US President Barack Obama’s key legacy policy – at all costs, including use of the presidential power of veto. This dispute alone has in the past proved sufficient to entirely shut down the US government.

Negotiating tensions between his party’s ideological right and its pragmatists will be Senator McConnell’s priority, and perhaps his bane, over the next two years.

By comparison, the victory was good news for Clinton’s as-yet unofficial bid for the White House. The Republican congress now becomes a foil for her to campaign against, and it may concentrate the support of Democrats keen to reinforce a strong front-runner rather than consider rivals in a primary campaign.

And Walker, who demolished his Democratic opponent, last night became a Republican star, vaulting himself into the front rank of his party’s presidential hopefuls, alongside  Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.

Walker’s victory was so significant not only because his margin was unexpectedly large, but because he was a key target of Democrats for his aggressive anti-union policies. The Democratic Party’s national organisation pumped money into the fight against him.

After winning office in 2010, then surviving a special election in 2012, Walker has now proved himself to be one of the party’s most formidable campaigners, even while maintaining a deeply conservative government.

While few analysts predict the White House and Congress will suddenly find accord, there are key policy areas that elements of both parties would like to see addressed.

The Democratic Party and establishment Republicans both want to see immigration reform to build bridges with the nation’s growing Hispanic community, just as they want  to reform the complex taxation system and find a way to reduce spending on pensions and healthcare.

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