Stay out of it

Another factor which one should consider in explaining a Republican resurgence aside from the two factors I mentioned before – namely, the combination of war and inflation on one hand and the typical flipping of Congress from one party to another during a president’s time in office in recent decades on the other hand – is the general feeling of anger and frustration on the part of regular people towards the elite class which defines the ontological condition of a populist upsurge. As I have mentioned on a number of occasions, the United States is essentially controlled by a handful of plutocrats – or a “plutonomy” to borrow from Noam Chomsky – through the strategy of “State Capture” in Congress. And as one finance expert argued recently, the anger and frustration towards a “plutonomy” has now reached “a tipping point” in the United States. 

To an extent, Congress flipping at some point during a president’s time in office can be explained by obstruction, in the sense that Congress’s main job is to obstruct the president’s popular agenda. Whereas Congress is traditionally controlled by a “plutonomy” and special interests, the President is usually the one with the popular mandate. Also, in most instances, voter turnout is higher in presidential elections than in Congressional elections, but this time around, lots of people wanted to participate in the midterm election, and in turn, popular interest in this midterm election was higher than usual. 

Hence, this midterm election bucked the trend in two different ways. For one, the roles and the situations of President and Congress have now reversed, in the sense that Congress is now the one with the popular mandate, whereas the President now represents special interests. And second, there is now greater public participation and interest in Congressional elections than before, which interferes with the traditional role of the “plutonomy” and special interests in Congress. 

And perhaps the fear amongst the “plutonomy” and the special interests who have long dominated Congress is that this particular midterm election is different, and that this midterm election would thwart “business as usual” and that something other than “political theater” and the safe obstruction of a president’s popular agenda is in the pipeline for a Republican-led House. The “plutonomy” and special interests may not be interested in obstructing a president’s agenda through Congress this time around, which is what one should probably expect if the Republicans end up controlling the House. Hence, the confusion and the state of flux we are experiencing at the moment and the nervous anticipation for clear and concrete results and so forth, even though everything is based on complexity, paradox, and uncertainty at the moment. 

Also, Joe Biden’s outreach to Republicans today and his idealistic hope of working “across the aisle” and so forth has to be balanced and tempered with the fact that today’s Washington is different than the one in the 1970’s or even in the 1980’s when reason and logic was likely to prevail. Today is very much an age of madness and irrationality, for a number of reasons, and that madness and irrationality is now a defining feature of today’s Republican party which in turn is shaped largely in the image of Donald Trump. Hence, the expectation and likelihood of bipartisanship in Washington and so forth has to be balanced and countervailed by the reality that reason and logic may not prevail in Washington, at least in the short run. Perhaps the lucky ones this time around would be the ones who can afford to “stay out of it” and not assume a public role, as certain scholars and wise men have implored, although many people in Washington and the ones who wield the “plutonomy” and special interests in this country may not have that kind of luxury and privilege.

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