Crystal balls and midterm elections

In just under a month, on the first Tuesday in November, the United States will have a midterm election.

This process enables registered voters to chose members of Congress, Senators, Governors, State Legislators, County Executives and Mayors whose terms are up.

Although not as important as the election for president, which is held every four years, midterms can’t be ignored.

In many respects the 2022 midterm is the most important election that the United States has faced since the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection.

Over the past two years we have seen a disgraced former president (bogged down with numerous legal challenges), and several elected Republicans and MAGA supporters make false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. We have learned about attempts by MAGA supporters at the state and local level working behind the scenes to intimidate election workers and gain control of the election apparatus to enable their preferred candidates to win when off-year, midterm and presidential elections are held. We have also witnessed important civil liberties legislation (in connection with women’s reproductive rights and Americans voting rights) whittled away by the supreme court.

Unquestionably the outcome of the 2022 midterms might be an indicator of what might happen in 2024 when there will be a presidential race. Although both Joe Biden and Donald Trump have indicated that they will be running, numerous things, including the outcome of this upcoming midterm election, can happen between now and then which may prevent the pitting of Biden and Trump against each other.

In many respects the midterm election will be an indicator of public attitudes towards the achievements (or lack thereof) of Biden administration and the Democratic Party over the past two years, the health of the economy, the publics’ displeasure or insecurity surrounding the January 6th 2020 insurrection, and numerous other political developments.

Keep in mind that less Americans vote in midterm elections than they do in presidential elections. Moreover voting is only one of several way people can participate politically.

But let’s talk about possible outcomes at least at the federal level. If the Democrats manage to retain their slim majority in the senate and congress then in principle they will be able to hold on to the gains that they have achieved over the past two years and may even be able to advance other kinds of modest legislation.

On the other hand, if the Democrats lose enough seats in the senate and house, then this will set into a motion a situation where Biden’s progressive agenda will be stalled and little if no new pro Democratic laws will be passed at the federal level for the next two years. Why? The Republicans will now chair important committees, and try to block most if not all efforts by the Democrats for progressive change. For example, committees, like the one currently investigating the causes and participants in the January 6th 2020 insurrection will most likely be disbanded. Already respected political watchers like Politico are predicting that the congress will go to the republications

All hope, however, is not lost.

On the plus side there are a handful of key elections right now for Senate seats (including Wisconsin where Republican Ron Johnson is running, and Florida where Marco Rubio is running), that pit vocal Trump loyalists against Democrats. And if these senators lose, it means that some of the wind will be knocked out of the MAGA sails.

But there may be some surprises. Notwithstanding the Supreme court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and fears of legislation supporting a national ban on abortion that could be introduced in either house, both Biden and the Democrats have passed some very critical legislation (e.g., student loan forgiveness, and the pardoning of low level marijuana offenders). This may motivate the Democrat’s base to not only vote, but to assist with the elections of other Democrats in battleground races.

Regardless of the outcome of the midterm election, a number of key political events will probably occur shortly after that may have a more significant effect on the future of the United States. This includes some type of closure on the trial of Richard Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy., Also it’s quite likely that a number of indictments leveled not only against Trump, but other facilitators of the January 6th committee, may be issued, not to mention indictments against Trump in his handling of classified documents.

This may lead to things getting real ugly real quickly as Trump and MAGA supporters could feel like their last hopes for controlling the political agenda have been lost. This may lead to violent street protests and actions. On a positive note the political situation will likely not descend into utter chaos as the American public has a low tolerance of this sort of thing and will call upon both state and local law enforcement, fearing a repeat of the January 6th violence will respond with force and try to quell this kind of political activity.

photo credit: W Carter
“A staged mock setup of a person divining answers from a crystal ball in Lysekil, Sweden.”