The US mid-term elections, which saw the Republican Party take control of the Senate and extending their hold over the House of Representatives, proves one thing: money can buy an election, but it can’t buy democracy. That indictment of eviscerated democracy in America, however, is a portent of more foreign aggression and wars.
Congressional elections this week saw $4 billion being poured into media campaigns – a record high. But even with this largesse, the majority of American voters were underwhelmed by what was on offer. Some 60 per cent of voters did not even bother to cast their ballots.
That is perhaps the real, shameful result of this election. Americans by their absence at polling stations are saying that there is nothing worthwhile voting for from among the two parties, whether Republican or Democrat.
In other words, democracy in the US is certified as dead. The official winners of the mid-term elections may be Republicans.
With deep pockets splurging on vitriolic television attack-ads, the Grand Old Party may have managed to buy a majority of seats in the Senate and House, but buying these seats hardly amounts to a mandate-to-rule from the people – when the vast majority of citizens refuse to vote, and many of those that did vote express only contempt for both parties.
As an article in the Washington Post notes: «Voters interviewed leaving the polls Tuesday offered negative opinions about almost everything, from the president and Congress to the Republican and Democratic parties to the state of the economy, the direction of the country and confidence in the federal government».
You have to sneak a laugh at Washington for its asinine irony. Only days before the mid-terms, US officials were denouncing the elections in Eastern Ukraine as a «sham». No matter that more than 60 per cent of the electorate in Donetsk and Luhansk mustered the courage to cast their votes to elect pro-independence leaders, while they are being slaughtered by the Western-backed regime in Kiev firing Grad rockets and cluster bombs at civilian areas.
The disturbing thing is that the election-buyers in the US will claim – in spite of the facts – that they have a mandate to embark on a more militarist foreign policy. This is a classic case of adding 2 plus 2 and getting 5, a conclusion that only multi-millionaire politicians divorced from public reality could arrive at.
With Republican control over the Congress, US President Barack Obama is now a lame-duck leader who can’t even quack. Not that Obama has shown any enlightenment towards international diplomacy and curbing military interventions throughout his two terms in office.
But with the more gung-ho Republicans able to over-ride the White House, we can expect a turn for the worse in international relations over the remaining two years that Obama resides in the Oval Office.
On Ukraine and Russia, the Republicans will step up their vociferous support for the ultra rightwing Kiev regime. Even before this week’s Congressional elections, they have been calling for more military aid to the CIA-installed junta. The Republicans have also been leading the media frenzy demonising Russian President Vladimir Putin as the «new Hitler» and pushing for a more militaristic advance of NATO towards Russia’s borders.
In Syria and Iraq, Obama has limited US involvement to sporadic air strikes against the Islamic State terror network and other Jihadists, while promising «no American boots on the ground». Obama’s hesitancy has been mocked by the hawkish Republicans who want to escalate US military presence in the Middle East and extend it to an all-out attack on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
That is, to make American regime change in Syria a full-throttle campaign, not the pusillanimous approach adopted by the Obama administration.
Perhaps the only fig leaf to international diplomacy under Obama has been the nuclear negotiations with Iran over the past year. This month a potential deal is in the offing on November 24, via the P5+1 forum, which might see US-led international sanctions on Iran finally being lifted.
Obama has previously said that he is prepared to use executive powers to over-rule opponents of an Iranian deal in Congress. But with both chambers on Capitol Hill now under the complete control of Republicans it is extremely doubtful that Obama will have the courage or political will to close the long-running dispute with Tehran.
Failure to clinch an agreement portends a resort to belligerence from Washington towards Iran – an outcome that will bring glee to the closely aligned Israeli lobby.
All in all, the Republican dominance emerging this week in Congress spells a hardening of Washington’s foreign policy – or, more accurately, an even more reckless American militarism riding roughshod over diplomacy and international law.
The travesty of this is that Washington has, in fact, no democratic mandate to pursue the belligerence that the Republican lawmakers will claim to have.
Polls have consistently shown that most Americans are opposed to Washington’s wars overseas.
Of the minority of American voters who did participate in the mid-term elections, their concerns were mostly driven by domestic economic woes. Foreign policy, and much less foreign wars, was not on the agenda of the electorate.
As even one Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio remarked, the voters came out «against Washington dysfunction and [for Washington] to get back to legislation on issues that will help them and their families.»
The New York Times also commented that «voters seemed to be reaching for a way to end Washington inertia».
From soundings of exit polls, the NY Times reported that 70 per cent of voters expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the economy. Some 80 per cent voiced their fear that the economy will become worse – despite official claims of a «recovery».
Tellingly, too, many (25 per cent) who cast their vote for the Republicans said that they were doing so not out of a positive endorsement of the party, but out of a general protest against the political establishment in Washington.
The Democrat president and his incumbent administration naturally would receive the brunt of this popular discontent, or as a Washington Post headline put it: «An unhappy electorate is toughest on Obama and the Democrats». But that does not mean that Republicans have anything to crow about. Far from it, a logical conclusion would be «shame on both sides of the House».
The Republicans may have bought the election results this week – from an embarrassing minority of the US population – but this is far from a mandate. The results are more a sign of how futile American elections are now seen by the vast majority of the population.
When confronted with no real choice, most voters simply chose to stay away, and those that did vote, simply voted for the best way to express protest at the oligarchy in Washington – whether Democrat or Republican.
Ron Paul: US elections are a one-party monopoly
Nevertheless, for the rest of the world, the carnival of American money-politics and the bellicose arrogance of those sitting on top of Capitol Hill, is something to view with deep dread.
For the next two years, the world better be on its guard against America’s war machine – a war machine that is fuelled with a delusional mandate.
By Finian Cunningham, Strategic Culture Foundation