Usually, midterm elections after the replacement or reelection of a president tend to favour the opposing party. In 2008, after Obama was elected, the Democratic party heavily controlled the Senate and the House. After midterm elections in 2010, Republicans gained some ground in the Senate and took a demanding lead in the House. After Obama’s reelection in 2012 and during the subsequent midterm elections in 2014, Republicans took a commanding lead in both the House and the Senate.
This trend repeated itself under the presidency of Donald Trump, whose term in 2016 began with Republican control in both chambers. After midterms in 2018, Democrats gained control of the House. In 2020, Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump and, the Democrats overtook Republicans in the House and Senate. These patterns of congressional control represent a seemingly natural swing of the political pendulum in the United States. This pendulum, controlled by the American people, is a force that determines the success of the party’s platform, and ultimately determines the political survival of a party itself.
Midterm elections in 2022 are fast approaching, and a looming question is waiting to be answered: Will Congress be subjected to the usual swing of the political pendulum, or will a nation, more politically divided than ever, maintain its trajectory and cement Democrat control for two more years? The 2022 midterm elections will be a litmus test of the American people’s patience with an increasingly polarized, radicalized, and divisive party system as both the Democratic and Republican parties are going through identity crises.
Most of the Republican party is still kneeling in front of Trump, preaching a political ideology that has become ubiquitous to acceptance in the Republican party. Just ask Liz Cheney, one of the most traditionally conservative and senior members of Congress who refused to uphold Trump’s lie that election tampering took place. She has become alienated by her party and now faces an uphill reelection battle.
A political party should not be defined by one person, as it is a recipe for demagoguery.
And the Democratic party is no less to blame for the political stage be set for the 2022 midterms. Infighting and ideological divisions have blinded the Democratic party from the bread-and-butter issues that the widest spread of American people face. As the governing party, Democrats have a responsibility to provide meaningful, simple, and effective policies that will bind Americans.
Until recently, two camps of the Democratic party both blocked crucial legislation because of their opposing ideological differences. Members of the House Progressive Caucus were blocking the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill that had passed the Senate, while two moderate Democrats in the Senate were blocking a much-needed social policy bill that the House had passed. Members of the Democratic party, playing political chicken with each other, digging in their heels until the other side passed their bill, all the while Biden’s poll numbers have dropped to a record low. Democrats must realize that staple economic issues are affecting Americans everywhere as inflation and a supply chain crisis. These are issues to be solved if Democrats are to keep congressional control.
And while progressive policies such as paid family leave, universal community college, and climate change legislation are essential to an equitable society, they do not respond to the political reality of America. It is a political reality that has recently emerged from the unprecedented tenure of Donald Trump. A political reality that is wrought with identity crises, one that is plagued with polarization. Democrats can lay all the blame they want on Republicans and their abuse of the filibuster, however, this proves my point exactly. An obstructive Republican party is the political reality of America. Instead of constantly butting heads with this reality, Democrats must temporarily swap progressivism with centrism to bypass the reality of a stubborn and irrational Republican party.
American political reality needs to be slowly and gently nurtured back to traditional bipartisan politics. The only way to do this is to compromise, be moderate, and push policies that will solve the bread-and-butter issues faced by America.
Public opinions only change after legislation has been passed and implemented. If moderate policies are implemented and are proven to be effective, the American electorate will gravitate towards the centre. Only then will policies that were once viewed, as radical such as decarbonization, universal health care, voting rights, and gun legislation, be viewed less so. If Democrats wish to succumb to the natural swing of the political pendulum in 2022, then they should continue to function as they are: A party that is averse to moderation and compromise. However, this risks the reinstatement of a political party fueled by a dangerous personality cult and the potential reelection of Donald Trump in 2024.
In 2022, if Democrats wish to maintain control of Congress, the most vital institution to push for concrete change, then the political reality of America needs to be met there.