Almost two weeks into elections for the 116th US Congress, America is no less polarized than it was before Sean Hannity called Armageddon on the Democrats. Over the past year, Hannity has effectively managed to reconcile Bannon’s nationalist war cry with that of the Republican establishment; a feat that has blossomed into a camaraderie between him and the President, very much on display in Missouri the night before the midterms as they shared a stage, capping off the Republican Midterm campaign.
Hannity has made no secret of his distaste for all things socialist. One could be forgiven to think that America would have, by now, done away with its Mccarthyist predilections, the specter of which is rooted deep into its most anachronistic neoconservative elements. Given the relevance of ‘fake news’ to modern media dissemination and the ensuing renewed focus on sifting fact from fiction, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s ascendancy to the Congress ought to have had come as no surprise. But Hannity, in the wake of Joe Crawley’s defeat to Cortez in the Democrat primary in June, warned his viewership in words reminiscent of the ‘halcyon days of Republican yore’ that read ever so blatantly,
‘This is scary.’
The Midterms have been anything but decisive. The Democrats take the house; The Republicans maintain hold over the Senate. That much required little prescience, more calculation into changing demographics across the country. What does ring alarm bells for Donald Trump in 2020 though is the notion that the McCain styled ‘pro trade – pro immigration’ Republicanism is yet to fade into obscurity. Au contraire, Kyrsten Sinema’s victory in the Arizona Senate bid left void by Jeff Flake’s decision against running a reelection campaign citing irreconcilable political differences with Donald Trump, has meant the induction of a Democrat Senator from Arizona running for an open seat for the first time since 1976. Sinema’s mode of campaign, not unlike the bipartisanship championed by John McCain was clearly, with benefit to political analysts, at odds with Martha McSally’s political alignment with Donald Trump. In fact, that might as well have been the primary reason for her loss to Sinema who campaigned on grounds to rejuvenate a flailing welfare system catering specially to the needs of seniors and veterans. Her mandate calls for a bipartisan immigration control mechanism appeasing both the ‘Dreamers’ and Americans calling out for their deportation. A bipartisan Democrats victory, in a state that Trump managed to win in 2016, is indeed a tribute to John McCain’s legacy in Arizona.
One could be forgiven to think that America would have, by now, done away with its Mccarthyist predilections, the specter of which is rooted deep into its most anachronistic neoconservative elements.
Across flyover country in New York, Hannity’s nightmares have come true. In one of the more profound Democrat victories, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is set to be part of the American Congress. Though Hannity’s displeasure for ‘big government’ is well recorded, Cortez is as much a political pariah to Democrats as she is to traditional Republicans. Not a democrat along traditional policy lines of the Democrat National Committee, her candidature is a page out of the socialist playbook. The victory of the two women aforementioned begs a review, not as much a quantitative analysis of the Midterm elections but the emergence of a rather disconcerting trend for both major political parties as they gear for the 2020 general elections.
Both Cortez and Sinema, not very similar in letter as they are in spirit, are not emblematic of America embracing socialism. They are a far cry from it, though Cortez’s victory does embolden the Bernie Sanders typified ‘social democratic’ wing of the Democratic Party, who made no secret of his endorsement for Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. What indeed was common in the campaigns was an inherent understanding of the shifting demographics of American society, which politically translated is growing weariness for both the governing and opposition establishments in Washington. Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy which challenged Ted Cruz’s incumbency to the Senate in Texas, sought to distance itself from the traditional Democratic rhetoric to come off as movement, independent of conventional political bias. Giving Cruz a definite run for his money, O’Rourke might have lost but has managed to invigorate progressive sentiments in the most conservative of states that will alter electoral politics in 2020. Catering to the hordes of disillusioned voters, either with their respective parties or the political setup as a whole, has been the central focus of such candidates who have found relative or absolute success.
A shift further to the left of the political spectrum, shaping the debate, quite fervently around contemporary issues could only have been done effectively when independent of superimposed political sponsorship from the establishment.
All three candidates, progressive in their own rights shaped the most effective counter narrative to Donald Trump’s presidency that the Democrats could muster. A shift further to the left of the political spectrum, shaping the debate, quite fervently around contemporary issues could only have been done effectively when independent of superimposed political sponsorship from the establishment. The Democrats, inadvertently so, found the right candidates to do just that but if they think that they can recoil back to traditional party lines, they have another thing coming. Anti-establishment rhetoric is the more frequent motif in electoral campaigns reflective of the most stringent policy positions on the spectrum. Donald Trump did that in 2016 and based on his method of campaign for the Midterms, which was as polarizing as one can possibly expect, he will replicate that if he decides to run in 2020.
The Republicans have the most to recover from. Social realities have finally caught up to them with ‘college educated suburban women’ coming out in numbers to vote. As younger people get eligible to vote, the GOP will need to reorganize their core support, realigning their policies to meet changing narratives in the 21st century. The stage is set for the 2020 general elections. Whether Donald Trump wants to share it again with Sean Hannity is yet to be answered but a recalibration of his method to success the first time around is in order.
is an M-Phil graduate of International Relations with minors in political economy from National Defense University. His areas of research include Foreign and Domestic European Affairs. He is currently working as a Research Associate at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research.