Global Trends by Martin
9 October 2006
POINT IN USA
The political monopoly the Republicans have over the Congress, the Senate
and White House has enabled US President Bush to carry out his administration’s
foreign policy which has been disastrous for the developing world.
Suddenly it looks as if the landscape may change with the mid-term elections
next month, due to a sex scandal that has even eclipsed the unpopularity
of the US war on Iraq.
The United States holds its mid-term elections on 7 November.
Several seats are being contested for the US Congress and US Senate.
Usually there is not that much interest among the public outside of
the US on what are seen as routine domestic politics. But the
Bush White House has been so controversial and its foreign policy so
"activist" in ways that make so many people angry worldwide
that this time the mid-term elections are being watched with greater
The Republican party at the moment has almost a monopoly, as it controls
both Congress and Senate as well as the White House.
This monopoly has enabled the Bush administration to do pretty much
as it pleases, including in its aggressive and very damaging foreign
In recent months it became clear that the US is caught in a quagmire
of its own doing in Iraq. Last week in a spell of three days the
US lost 17 soldiers killed in Iraq. In Afghanistan, there is a
very significant resurgence of resistance against the foreign allied
The terrible position that US took when Israel assaulted Lebanon --
supporting Israel in refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire ---
lost it even more support not only in the Middle East but around the
Its aggressive stance towards Iran over the nuclear issue has got many
people suspicious that it is planning to launch a bombing spree over
that country, or even an invasion.
The so-called war on terror is making the world much less safe.
Around the world, more and more people believe the US approach has not
made the world safer, but that terrorists are thriving because of its
policies and that in the end it is the US that is inducing and even
committing terror in the world.
What is interesting is that more Americans are realising this too.
And that this might be reflected in the mid-term elections. Curbing
the power of the Bush administration could keep its aggressive intentions
With the mood changing, the Democrats have now a good chance to win
back either the Congress or the Senate, or even both.
Last week the pro-establishment columnist Thomas Friedman, not known
for radical views, signalled the change in mainstream American thinking
when he wrote in the New York Times that "For the sake of the country
I really hope the Republicans lose the House and the Senate to the Democrats."
He continued that "it is so important that the Republicans lose,
because if the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice team can get away with the
grotesque incompetence they have exhibited in Iraq, it makes the US
look like a banana republic."
But if the Republicans lose, an even bigger factor may be the sex scandal
that has blown up in the last week. The Republican Congressman
Mark Foley has been exposed for exchanging explicit sex-related email
messages with under-aged pageboys who worked in the Congress.
Foley has resigned, but the spotlight is now on Republican Party leaders,
especially on the House Speaker Dennis Hastert who knew for months about
Foley’s acts of folly but did not discipline him.
The furor over this sex scandal is losing the public opinion war for
the Republicans, including in their traditional Christian support base.
The party that campaigns on the basis of family and religious values
suddenly looks immoral and hypocritical.
The Democrats need to win back 15 seats in Congress and six seats in
the Senate if they are to take over control in these two Houses.
Opinion polls showed last week that they have a clear lead over the
Republicans in at least 11 of the 15 seats they need in the Congress
race and they also have narrow leads in a number of other critical seats.
And another poll shows that they are also within striking distance to
win back at least six seats in Senate.
Suddenly, the political landscape has changed almost overnight.
The slow fuse was the increasing disenchantment over the government’s
performance in Iraq. The more immediate was the Congressman-pageboys
One prominent journalist called last week’s events the “tipping point”
in American politics. Of course the Democrats could still "blow
it", as the Americans say, as they have not been very clever in
the past to capitalise on the Republicans' weaknesses.
And it is not clear that the Democrats are really that much better in
terms of foreign policy, on how they view the rest of the world, and
their actions especially regarding developing countries.
But many around the world feel it is time to end the monopoly of the
Republicans which has enabled the Bush government to carry out such
disastrous policies. Perhaps the time has now come for the American
public to feel the same and to act on it through their vote.
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