Midterm polls are a troubling spectacle for the world
Americans are calling today’s midterm election the most important in decades but foreigners need lose no sleep over whether Republicans or Democrats dominate Congress.
Both these great and in the past admired parties are intellectually bankrupt now. Washington’s dismal foreign policies may not change much whichever party rules US legislature, since they are obsessed with fratricidal fights over President Donald Trump’s rude insouciance about the opinions of both. Worse, they are also embroiled in fights among factions within each.
Iran will still be pilloried, Saudis still molly-coddled, Chinese still disparaged for stealing American inventions and Europeans still harangued for not spending enough on defense. Civilians in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan will still die uncounted, and murderous Jihadis will still spread death across North and Central Africa.
Russia will still be accused of all manner of anti-American harms and the disgracefully wealthy in both countries will still waste money on outrageously conspicuous consumption.
Their governments and Beijing will resolutely design weapons to rain upon all of us from outer space while climate change, the global catastrophe already flapping its wings, gets no heed from Trump’s Washington and tepid lip service from others.
Across party lines in Congress and Senate, representatives will still blame foreigners and one another for many of America’s troubles. And immigrants will still get raw deals at the US-Mexico frontier, Mediterranean crossings will still be death traps and militarized barbed wire walls and detention centers will persist solely to keep impoverished non-Europeans out of Europe.
If Democrats triumph today, there may be mind-numbing plots to impeach Trump as morally, mentally or criminally unfit to lead the once great American nation. And mindless partisan warfare between the two Houses could paralyze most of the useful things that lawmakers might have done and should certainly be doing.
Regardless of who trumpets victory in the midterms, the world will blame Americans not Trump, because the political civil wars inside America are among the people. Trump did not create the decades old fissures now widening into chasms. The people’s unbridged convictions did that.
He is simply profiting from and widening pre-existing divisions among the American people. And he is loving the cherry on the cake! Quite evidently, he revels in sticking pins into the professional windbags of both parties to malicious applause of hardliners on right and left who are fed up with the long-nurtured entitlement of legislative and media elites.
The world looks on in petrified fascination as a great democracy angrily tears at itself, just because the pro-Trump tribe sees everyone else as the enemy trying to turn its white knight into humbled dust.
With equal vigor, the other side would rather destroy the sacred rule of democracy – that the legally elected person is accepted by all for the full term — to find some way, almost any way, of dethroning that person midway.
Americans are inflicting Homeric tragedies on themselves through sheer unwillingness to patiently listen to one another’s voices across their tribal, ethnic and economic divides. And the world watches willy-nilly because American global television and social media does not let it turn away.
Of course, it is a riveting spectacle to see the world’s most complacently powerful people in both wealth and weapons turn the rule of the people, by the people, for people – a form of governance for which four-fifth of the world yearns — into a mess so grievous that an authoritarian is being incubated.
Then, there is the horror of some 15,000 military-trained soldiers being sent to the border with Mexico to interdict limping caravans of less than 7,000 bedraggled, hungry and weakened people from entering the “make America great again” fortress.
The hearts of some foreign onlookers may do a few pirouettes because of schadenfreude. But for others today may the opening act of the modern world’s greatest tragedy when the great and good American people self-obsessively start inflicting a thousand cuts upon themselves, goaded by a fear-mongering self-important agitator.
Hopefully instead, today’s polls may be cathartic and provoke people to use the post-catharsis relief to find their way back to be a great and good democracy again for their own sakes and those of the oppressed around the world.
The US was an uplifting vision but is now an increasingly visceral force using its massive financial, economic and military power to coerce others to do Trump’s will at pain of draconian penalty.
Americans rebelling against this brutishness are valiantly fighting Trump but he has a bigger megaphone and loyal legions disgruntled at being left behind and voiceless. They are finding their voice and may not slink into the sunset even if Democrats defeat him roundly by taking both Houses.
Foreign governments, including close US allies, are taking note and starting their own long journey to fending for themselves so that no US president ever sees them as quasi vassal states, as apparently does Trump.
Meanwhile, the United Nations said today that children in Yemen are dying of sheer starvation in ever larger numbers and over 13 million people face stark famine.