Polling organization FiveThirtyEight puts Democrats at 45.7% and Republicans at 44.9%, but the real battles will be fought in a handful of House and Senate seats.
Despite Biden’s low approval ratings, with polls suggesting Hispanic voters are closing in on Republicans, with Donald Trump’s alleged criminality, law-breaking and contempt for democracy a daily news story, the coup summer thumbs up to the Supreme Court Democrats flipping Roe vs. Wade, the cost of living crisis, inflation, and the Republicans’ ruthless attacks on Democrats’ crime and immigration, very little is changing on the ground.
Republicans are expected to win back the House of Representatives, with Democrats retaining control of the Senate, by the slimmest of margins.
The Democrats’ struggle to gain control of the Senate each year is made much more difficult by decisions made by the Founding Fathers 250 years ago when protecting the rights of 13 states in this new democracy was paramount. in their mind.
In the drafting of the U.S. constitution and subsequent amendments, the 100-member U.S. Senate presents a significant and enduring problem for the Democratic Party because each of the 50 states – regardless of the number of voters – has the right two senators. This gives an added advantage to less populated states that are Republican strongholds.
The wise but inexperienced framers of the constitution had deep concerns about the future of their country and felt that safeguards were needed to protect the institution of the presidency. Democracy was a step into the unknown.
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The editors were suspicious and distrustful of “factions”, the “crowd” or the “masses”, and seriously questioned the competence of future voters to make informed decisions.
They were determined to protect the new republic and, in particular, the influence of the states. This historic battle was seen as pitting “the populism, passion and enthusiasm” of the House against “the advice, wisdom and experience of the Senate”.
This goal of favoring small states over large states and protecting them from being crushed ensured the weakening of American democracy from the start. Unlike the House of Lords and the Roman Senate, which influenced the author’s thinking, the United States Senate is a powerful institution with the ability to impeach the president, oversee international treaties, affirm or reject crucial presidential appointments and sweeping powers over the budget and legislation.
These “states rights” protections, granted to the Senate more than 200 years ago, seem seriously misplaced as its power and authority from a limited electoral base now impact all aspects of politics and American governance, well beyond the questions of interest for the States.
From 1796, the States chose their representatives in the American Senate but from 1913 the 17th amendment, based on the “Connecticut Compromise”, introduced direct elections in each of the States.
The conflict between democracy and the protection of states’ rights and the uphill struggle for Democrats is best illustrated by looking at the 2018 midterm elections. After that vote, the Senate included 18 senators from nine major states representing 50% of the American population. In contrast, the remaining 50% of the population was represented by 82 senators from 41 states.
Almost 250 years after the United States Declaration of Independence, this sounds ludicrous, but it helps explain the lingering animosity in the United States between the federal and state levels.
At the heart of this election conundrum are the issues of federalism versus states’ rights, democracy, and the inherent biases and political advantages this confers on the Republican Party.
The House of Representatives represents democracy and voters in each state. The Senate, which represents states and not citizens, is unquestionably unfair.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that election to the Senate gives an extra and disproportionate importance to small white and conservative rural Christian states. Wyoming, with a population of 600,000, is returning two senators. California, the most populous state with 40 million people, returns the same number.
It strikes at the heart of American democracy and fuels the deep and sometimes toxic divide between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, dramatically exposing how a constitution written in contrasting times disadvantages one of the two main parties in the battle for the Senate.
In the partisan world of American politics, it is now politically impossible to change or update the constitution of the United States. Achieving a constitutional amendment would require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate, and ratification by three-fourths of the states.
Democrats must retain control of the Senate. Polls across America suggest that as Election Day approaches, the two parties remain in a very tight race.
With the Republican Party likely to win back the House of Representatives, Democrats must retain control of the Senate to ensure that Joe Biden does not become a lame duck President in the next two years, meeting the same frustrating fate as Bill Clinton and Barak Obama. in their second terms.
A Republican majority in the Senate will stall Biden’s legislative agenda, derail much-needed domestic reforms, and undermine U.S. international commitments to NATO, the EU, the war in Ukraine, energy cooperation, and climate change. What happens halfway through will affect us all.
Henry McLeish is a former First Minister of Scotland