Georgia has been a reliably Republican state for decades. Trump’s narrow loss of the state in the Presidential election was a surprise
Two major events have shaken the US. Democrats won both Senate elections in Georgia, giving them effective control of both houses of US Congress and making possible a radical shift in Joe Biden’s agenda. Second, a pro-Donald Trump mob stormed the US Capitol, which was in the process of confirming Biden as President, killing four and injuring almost a hundred people in what critics called an attempted coup.
Two questions arise.
First, will these events transform Biden’s pledge to aim for bipartisanship to heal a wounded country, or will his control of both Houses enable Democratic radicals to push through huge partisan changes like packing the Supreme Court with new pro-Democrat judges and conferring statehood on the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, which in effect will give Democrats four more seats in future Senate elections?
Answer: Biden will stick to moderation and resist radical pressures.
Georgia has been a reliably Republican state for decades. Trump’s narrow loss of the state in the Presidential election was a surprise. Both incumbent Senators were Republicans, and incumbents usually win in American elections. But after their twin defeats, both parties now have 50 seats in the Senate, and Vice President Kamala Harris, who presides over the Senate, will have the casting vote in case of a tie. Suddenly, the ability of Republicans to block Biden’s agenda has diminished greatly.
But let none think this makes Biden all-powerful. Many US Congressmen vote against the party line. The Democratic Party has warring factions, with radicals like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seeking drastic changes while Democratic moderates are appalled at the polarisation of politics and want to heal wounds rather than exacerbate them.
Trump’s Influence in Party Affairs
Many Democratic moderates will vote against radical measures, and many radicals will vote against moderate measures. So, Biden will have a job holding his flock together. He will postpone or avoid controversial proposals, and continue wooing moderate Republicans to get legislation passed.
His top priority will be to implement the new fiscal stimulus package and get cheques of $2,000 sent to needy families still reeling from the Covid-induced recession. He will have to accelerate affordable mass vaccination, and overcome major doubts many Americans have about the efficacy of vaccines.
New Covid cases have leaped up in the last month and new dangerous strains are appearing. Biden’s top priority has to be virus control and economic relief.
The second question: Is Trumpism mortally wounded, and will Trump cease to dominate Republican politics?
Answer: The immediate answer is no, but that could change if Trump is jailed for sundry crimes. The latest possible charges against him are incitement of the mob that stormed the Capitol, and his urging the Georgia Secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to somehow “find” an additional 11,800 votes to reverse his loss of the state in the Presidential election.
Twitter locked Trump’s account for 12 hours and threatened him with permanent suspension for inciting the Capitol riot, a striking indicator of liberal outrage. But Trump’s hardcore supporters don’t give a damn.
In India, it would be unimaginable to prosecute top VIPs without clearance from the Prime Minister’s Office. But the US justice system is decentralised and more independent. Federal prosecutors can decide what charges to levy against Trump. When he ceases to be President, he loses immunity from suits, and may face charges from public prosecutors in several states.
Trump’s tax matters will come into the open, providing further fodder for criticism and possible prosecution. The findings of the Mueller Report could now become ground to prosecute him for seeking Russian interference in the 2016 election and obstructing justice when the scandal came to light.
But Donald Trump is down, not out. He won over blue collar voters to his party, and his tax cuts helped create an economic boom. He would have won re-election but for Covid suddenly causing economic collapse.
He has proved that virtually no Republican candidate can win party primaries in any state without his support. He can shrug off the Capitol storming as the spontaneous action of understandably enraged citizens, and point out that he personally did not explicitly advocate violence.
Many top Republicans have expressed dismay at his attempt to invalidate the election results, but none has dared take him on as the party’s spearhead. The passion of the mob that stormed the Capitol shows Trump’s continuing appeal to the right-wing fringe. The Christian right still backs him.
Maybe his popularity will fade if he is found guilty of criminal acts. But his supporters will dismiss many criminal cases as political vendetta, just as they did when the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives impeached him in 2019 on trying to force Ukraine to prosecute Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Trump may yet bounce back to be the Republican candidate in the next 2024 Presidential election, and might yet win.