Dhe villain in Donald Trump’s nightmares these days is likely to be 2.10 meters tall, with a bald head and goatee, in a hoodie and shorts, with tattooed forearms. John Fetterman, many say, would make a good gangster even if he was in Harvard has studied. This “radical left lunatic,” as Trump once called him, is the new Democratic Senator for the fiercely contested state of Pennsylvania. He is the most prominent example of the failure of Trump’s radical candidates in the congressional elections.
Trump suffered a personal defeat in these midterms and swept the Republican party with him. The predicted red wave did not occur, on the contrary: Joe Biden and the Democrats achieved a historically good result, although the votes are not yet counted. The quiet triumph Biden showed in his first post-election appearance is justified. It was not to be expected that the Republican Party would achieve such poor results in times of record inflation, horrendous gas prices and a widely unpopular president.
The Democrats, however, must not feel safe. The fight for American democracy, which the President proclaimed during the election campaign, is far from over. It is unlikely that the Democrats will retain a majority in both chambers of Congress, and Biden’s room for maneuver is likely to be severely limited in the next two years until the presidential election.
In the worst case, he becomes a president who rules by decree, could at least veto unwelcome laws like a ban on abortion, but is bombarded by Republicans with investigations and impeachment proceedings. Even if Biden speaks of a willingness to compromise, the political climate is likely to continue to deteriorate. Despite this, a worrying number of Republican vote-bucklers and conspiracy theorists have still managed to get elected to Congress and the states. The “America First” wing is striving for more power in Washington.
Trump has been talking about election fraud since election day, proclaiming a “big, big victory” for himself and raging at his “enemies” and the “fake media”. The disappointment in the Republican party should be good breeding ground for its radical wing. And even if Trump, who was often thought dead, does not actually rise again this time – his ideology will survive. Ron DeSantis from Florida, who has now been re-elected governor by a large margin, is being traded as the new presidential candidate. As a Christian nationalist, however, “Trump with a brain” is no less dangerous for American democracy.
The part of American society that feared the worst for the very foundations of this country can breathe a sigh of relief after the congressional elections. Democratic and independent voters have managed to contain the radical excesses on the Republican side. But it is not to be expected that the rift in American politics will suddenly close. Protecting democracy will remain the task of the Americans in the years to come.