The Pot Simmers
Maybe 2018 really is the year of reckoning for the Land of the Free. It’s all happening stateside, it really is. Mr. President continues to embarrass himself, quite literally getting laughed at during the UN General Assembly. A sexual predator is now a US Supreme Court judge. The White House no longer has a representative at the UN, at least for now.
And now, celebrities are also wading into political waters. With November the 6th on the horizon, the likes of Taylor Swift and Kanye West are making their voices heard. Musician Kanye West visited the Oval Office on Thursday to discuss prison reform and economic opportunity for African-American men. The artist spent much of the time defending his backing of the president, and praising him for his “bravery.”
Taylor Swift broke a long-held silence on all things political and endorsed two Democratic candidates in her home state of Tennessee in an Instagram post, urging others to vote in the upcoming midterm election. The post seemingly found an audience: Vote.org reported Monday that the site saw 65,000 new voter registrations in the first 24 hours after Swift uploaded the photo. Others did not take so kindly to Swift’s decision to go blue, and some fans are destroying her merchandise in protest. On Tuesday, Swift struck again, winning four awards at the American Music Awards. In her acceptance speech for artist of the year, Swift once again encouraged her fans and viewers to vote.
Amid all this buzz of activity stands one pressing question:
What exactly are the 2018 midterm elections?
Not only will they provide strong groundwork for the 2020 elections but they also carry some very high stakes in shaping the American political landscape.
On 6 November this year, American voters will elect members of both houses of Congress, currently controlled by the Republican Party, which backs President Donald Trump. The Democrats strongly believe they can win control of the House of Representatives this year by winning a majority of seats. Doing so would let them create an obstacle to presidential plans by refusing to enact them. All 435 seats in the lower house, named the House of Representatives, are up for election. If the Democrats want to take control of the House by having the most seats, they must claim at least 23 from the Republicans.
All this also holds much significance for the immediate future of the Oval Office. Up to now, leading Democrats have avoided openly talking about removing President Trump or forcing him to resign. But if this were to happen, a majority of members of the House of Representatives would have to vote for impeachment. What would happen next? The president would then be put on trial by the Senate on charges of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”. If a two-thirds majority of senators found him guilty, Mr. Trump would be removed from office and replaced by Vice-President Mike Pence.
How big a deal would that be? Well, no president has ever been removed from office using the impeachment process, in the 332 years of US history.
A more likely outcome will see President Trump frustrated, with a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives blocking his plans. A classic gridlock situation, which might bring decision-making in the US political apparatus to a halt.
Perhaps the most important metric of the 2018 midterm elections should be voter turnout. According to the Guardian, more than 800,000 registered to vote on national voter registration day in September compared to 154,500 in the last midterms in 2014. Much of this is down to deep-seated polarization among voters, on pressing topics such as immigration laws.
The US population is ready to make a decision, a very important one too.
Only time will tell what exactly that is.
Watch out, Mr. President.
The pot simmers, but when exactly will it boil over?