ANALYSIS BY ALEX TAYLOR
The Democratic Party scored a narrow victory in last night’s U.S. midterm election, changing the power dynamic President Trump has enjoyed for two years.
CNN is projecting the Democratic Party has already won 222 seats in the House of Representatives, with more victories expected to come as results are released. 218 seats were needed for a majority.
The Republican party successfully held on to the Senate, the senior chamber of America’s bicameral political system. Their victory ensures that the President will have a split congress for the remainder of his current term.
U.S. House of Representatives comparison: 2016-2018
The hope held by Canadians going into last night was that the recent relationship woes with the United States would end with a new congress, one that was not so willing to act with hostility to its longstanding neighbour. Yet there is another train of thought, one Canadian experts in U.S. foreign policy warn Canadians must prepare for.
Professor Robert Bothwell of the University of Toronto is an expert in Canadian foreign relations. He believes that long-term damage may have already occurred to the Canadian/U.S. relationship, and that relief may not be on the way.
“It’s already there.” Bothwell says. “…this is more than a passing phase. We see that the U.S. political system let pass Trump’s lies and bullying about Canada with barely a whisper.”
It is a terrifying proposition, but one that requires acknowledgement: what if the fraying of Canadian/American relationship goes deeper than just Trump? Have the Democrats allowed Trump to loudly rage against existing trade deals, tear them up and make new ones, and take the international heat for the unpopular move?
Bothwell’s thoughts are echoed by Peter Loewen, a Professor of U.S. politics at U of T.
“It’s important to remember that Democrats have typically been more protectionist then Republicans…we shouldn’t expect that a Democratic house push hard for freer trade.” Loewen said.
“It’s become clear that goodwill only goes so far. We need to be clear eyed about the reality that we are the smaller partner in our agreements with the US, and so need to be ever expanding other opportunities for trade.”
Now that the balance of power has changed, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats may find that the new Trump economic reality abroad may be more agreeable to the everyday American than they previously thought. Maybe the problem was the messenger, and not the message.
If this thought proves true, it will mean tough times ahead for Canadians, who have thought like the rest of the world that their woes could be blamed on Donald Trump. Instead, the world may be grappling with a new and different reality: That Donald Trump’s decisions may not be a bizarre blip in our history but have everlasting ripples for generations.