OPINION: Will polarised Congress widen or narrow divisions?

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - In an illustration of the old saying “extremes meet”, the Democratic Party took control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections but lost ground in the Senate. The results gave both parties reason to celebrate; now comes the tug of war. But while it may seem counterintuitive, that means the political system in the United States may regain some equilibrium.

That partly explains why majority opinion has it that the results of Tuesday’s US midterm elections will have limited impact on US and global markets. Most analysts believe the deeper political polarization in Washington is likely to produce less polarizing outcomes as the US president will now have to focus on less divisive legislation.

He may also have other things to think about if the Democrat-controlled House decides it would like to have a closer look at his tax return and alleged links with the Kremlin.

However, the Democrats greatest leverage, as some have observed, will be the “checks and balances” the House can impose on the White House.

Yet while the divided Congress may mean things become a little less extreme in certain respects, that doesn’t mean they will become less uncertain.
 It is to be hoped that the trade disputes do not become a political football in Washington. Following the phone conversation between the US and Chinese leaders and their consensus that the trade dispute that has flared up between two countries can be resolved through talks, it would be an unwelcome setback if that positive momentum was now stalled or reversed.

The voting also made evident the divisions in US society have widened further, with the profile of the Republican Party becoming more rural and conservative and the Domocratic Party more urban and liberal. These divisions are stark and at times deadly as shown by the deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in the runup to the elections.

If one of the results of the midterms is to temper the use of the racially-charged rhetoric that is becoming a defining feature of this administration, it will be would be a welcome development, as it may help people from all walks of life in the US appreciate they are part of a wider human society. And that would be a step toward finding solutions to many pressing problems.

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