December 1st 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Will Morrison and Shorten remove freedoms from faith-based schools?

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Immigrants caught in English-language nether world

CANBERRA OBSERVED China's pushiness provokes pushback among neighbours

FOREIGN AFFAIRS U.S. midterm elections leave Trump in charge

DEFENCE Perth Defence conference prioritises Indo-Pacific

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Countering fake news: Jair Bolsonaro may just save Brazil's democracy

GENDER POLITICS Small signs of a turn in the tide of the transgender flood

FOREIGN AFFAIRS European Union's winder of discontent

AUTOBIOGRAPHY Wynand du Toit: writing into the sunset

ASIAN AFFAIRS China uses salami tactics to isolate Taiwan

ENERGY Hydroelectric power and pump storage

LEGAL MATTERS Universities put themselves above the law

John le Carre, Smiley and the spy novel

MUSIC The mercurial Freddie: Power without emotion

CINEMA Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

BOOK REVIEW Commentator has got it right

BOOK REVIEW We are ill equipped for next big shift

BOOK REVIEW The father of the Reformation

FICTION The Lonely Man

LETTERS

VICTORIAN ELECTION Coalition collapse in Victoria

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS U.S.
midterm elections leave Trump in charge


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, December 1, 2018

The midterm elections held in the United States on November 6 led to the Democrats winning a majority in the House of Representatives, but losing seats in the Senate, where the Republicans now have a clear majority.

The elections were for the full House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, and governors of more than half the states of America.

Since President Donald Trump’s election, the Republicans had had a majority in the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, enabling President Trump to get legislation through both houses of the U.S. Congress, as well as appoint black-letter lawyers to the U.S. Supreme Court, giving a conservative majority for the first time in a generation.

The usual pattern in the past has been for the opposition to win control of the Congress. Even Barack Obama, twice elected president, faced a Republican-dominated Congress for six of his eight years in office.

The election outcome will force President Trump to deal with the Democrats on legislation but will not constrain him in the exercise of his executive powers.

Most of the agenda on which he was elected in 2016 has already been legislated, including tax cuts for American business, the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, tariffs on China, withdrawal from the Iran nuclear treaty, construction of new oil and gas pipelines across the U.S., tariffs on imported aluminium and steel, and renegotiation of the NAFTA treaty to benefit American manufacturers.

As the Democrats will not take over the House of Representatives until next January, there is still time for President Trump and the Republicans to pass more legislation for the good of the country.

No ‘blue wave’

Although the Democrats have expressed delight at regaining control of the House of Representatives, they failed to get the “blue wave” that they believed would deliver control of both houses of Congress, and which would have enabled them to reverse Mr Trump’s agenda and even impeach the President.

The best they can hope for is to lay the ground for a Democrat to challenge Mr Trump in the Presidential election in 2020. While a Democrat challenger will undoubtedly emerge, there is no frontrunner to challenge Mr Trump, and several of the more likely challengers were defeated in the recent elections, denting their prospects of a tilt at the presidency in 2020.

The Democrats have never reconciled themselves to Mr Trump’s election over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and remain determined to destroy him (and now his legacy, too).

While the polls have shown Mr Trump’s negative poll ratings, the media never refer to the ratings of other Congressional leaders, including the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, Democrat minority leader Nancy Pelosi, and the leaders of both parties in the Senate.

These show that leaders of both the Democrats and Republicans have far lower levels of support than Mr Trump. For example, the latest polls (at the time of writing) put Mr Trump’s approval rating at 42 per cent and a disapproval rating of 54 per cent. However, Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi has an approval rating of just 28 per cent and a disapproval rating of 53 per cent.

Overall, Donald Trump has a far higher approval rating than any of the Congressional leaders. The next most popular leader is Republican Speaker Paul Ryan, whose approval rating is just 31 per cent.

The issues that have worked most strongly in Mr Trump’s favour are immigration and domestic manufacturing.

His strong “America First” economic policy has created millions of new jobs in America, pushing the unemployment rate down below 4 per cent, well below Australia’s, and he has won strong support for his commitment to border control, particularly against the influx of illegal immigrants from Latin America, of which there are said to be 14 million living in the U.S.

With an increased majority in the Senate, the Republicans will be able to block any attempt to impeach the President.

It will also give Mr Trump the capacity to get new members of his cabinet confirmed, and facilitate new appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest judicial office in the land, if any further vacancies occur.

Mr Trump has already appointed two new members of the Supreme Court, and the health of some of the older members, who are appointed for life, is a matter of wide public interest.

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is now aged 85 and was appointed by Democrat President Bill Clinton in 1993, recently suffered a fall and broke three ribs. The health of another liberal Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, appointed by Barack Obama, has already been a cause of concern, and she is now 64 years old.

Under President Trump, a new paradigm is emerging of a strong, self-reliant America, which cherishes its families, encourages business entrepreneurship and economic growth, celebrates America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, and refuses to be defined by the failed policies of radical environmentalism, extreme feminism, free trade and unlimited individualism.




























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Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm