US midterms: SOAS academics on what is at stake

Midterms 2018 - Politics and International Studies

Americans go to the polling stations today in what could be one of the most divisive contests in US history. Majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are hanging in the balance. Former president Barack Obama has come out of semi-retirement to urge his supporters to rally behind the Democrats; whilst President Trump has been on a whistle-stop tour of Ohio, Missouri and Indiana pushing his message that a vote for the Democrats is a vote for “their socialist agenda.”

So what do the SOAS experts think?

Professor Stephen Hopgood, Pro-Director (International)

“In the US midterms the Democrats will probably take the House and the Republicans keep the Senate ushering in two years of divided government and probably gridlock until the 2020 general election. While Trump suffers a barrage of criticism and record low polling numbers, it’s worth remembering that around 42% of Americans – that’s maybe 100 million people – approve of the job he’s doing as president. He could easily be re-elected. He has also achieved several things he was elected to do – reignite the culture war by getting a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court, gut environmental regulations, cut taxes for the wealthy, curb immigration and undermine Obamacare. The real question is what comes after Trump. What permanent damage will he have done to US institutions, the quality of US public life and America’s standing in the world? Is this the first sign of a shift towards more overt authoritarianism in the United States? The midterms are simply one piece of that bigger puzzle about where things are going in the longer term.”

Dr Dan Plesch, Director, Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

“Should the Republicans hold both houses of Congress they will have a free hand to install a sadistic, corrupt white patriarchy at home and abroad. A Democrat victory in the House of Representatives can lead to the impeachment and criminal conviction of the President and open the way for a new era of progressive politics in the spirit of Franklin Roosevelt.  A Democrat Senate is not impossible at this stage.”

Read Dan’s latest article ‘Progressives Need a New Internationalist Policy‘ for Common Dreams.

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