EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy

  • The United States midterm elections are heating up, and Europe should pay attention. Recently, the state of Transatlantic relations has been unsteady, and the results from these elections may either cement the current administration’s trajectory, or open up an avenue for the Democrats to act as a check to the Republican policies. Currently, the Congress is controlled by the Republican party.
  • These elections give the Democratic party the opportunity to change this. If the Democratic is able to take control of either house of Congress, it could mean notable changes in the Domestic and Foreign policy of the United States.

The Democratic party of the United States is overall more inclusive and cooperative than Republican. Whereas Republicans often buy into the value of hegemonic power, Democrats are often more aligned with the goals of globalization and stability – the traditional divide between Realist and Liberal views of international relations, but with the added volatility of Trump. Meaning, the recent upset between the US and the EU could begin to improve as a result of this election cycle. If Democrats are able to gain control of either house, they stand a chance to block President Trump’s proposals, just as the Republican-controlled Congress sought to block President Obama.

Currently, Democratic politicians are unhappy with the decision to pull out of JCPOA. Democrats largely encouraged Trump to remain in the deal, as such an action no doubt places strain on the transatlantic relationship.

However, they are not alone. Many Republican politicians have taken a stand against the President and his nationalist policies. The party finds itself polarized; those who staunchly support President Trump and those who resent his actions. This divide, however bad for the Republican party, seems to indicate that the US Congress would be more open than ever to bipartisan cooperation. Thus, a Democratically Controlled Congress could prove successful for blocking future offensive policies.

Republicans and Democratic alike are bothered by the recent tariffs placed on steel. The choice to injure free trade with US allies citing national security threats was unprecedented and unpopular.

The Congress has the power to pass a Veto-proof majority legislation that overturns President Trumps action or strips the President of his ability to pass such actions. Though this is possible, a bipartisan majority coalition is unlikely, especially in a Republican controlled house and senate. Therefore, the 2018 midterm elections could also affect recent trade policy. If either house is held by the democratic party, there is a greater chance that offensive policies, such as the recent steel tariffs, can be reversed or, at least, their damages mitigated.

In all, the 2018 midterm elections have a chance of handing some legislative control back to the Democratic party. This outcome is promising due to the apparent desire for something new. This party shift will no doubt mean that there will be more checks on the President’s power.

As Trump and his closest advisors have been the most outspoken against the EU and Europe, a more balanced legislative branch would tip the scale towards friendlier transatlantic relations. June 5th proved successful for many democrats who won the primary elections, however the race is far from over. With the outcomes at stake, Europe and the world should watch this 2018 midterm election cycle closely.

Rachel Warren

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