This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
To summarise what these midterm elections are about. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be contested. In addition, 39 state and territorial governorships as well as numerous other state and local elections will also be contested.
Of course it is the news that will dominate this week throughout the world. It may even knock Brexit off the front pages of our own press which will be a welcome relief. I have absolutely no idea what the outcome is going to be but I have never paid more attention to the Midterms than this time. The United States of America seems completely divided and not at all ‘United’ as their name portrays. This division also seems more widespread now in the US than for a very long time. President Trump is many things, most of which I dare not put on this page, but he is certainly a divisive President. I know one should respect the office of Leader of the Free World but Trump does push one to the limits.
Montana Rally speech
On Sunday I was cooking the lunch and listening to the radio. I heard the newsreader quote Trump’s latest outrageous pronouncement.
“We have our military on the border. And I noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today, barbed wire used properly can be a beautiful sight,” he said.
Beautiful and barbed wire together in a sentence… twice. I am not sure what my reaction was. Anger mixed with incredulity? Can this really be the man that a democratic nation voted in two years ago to be their President?
The speech continued as he reiterated phrases from the past to describe the caravans, three of which have mobilised so far and are making their way through Mexico.
“These are bad people – as I say bad hombres,” Trump said. “There are some bad hombres in that group. So they came out with a list of 300 really bad ones, really bad ones. They’re in there.”
The “list” he referred to was a statement from the Department of Homeland Security stating that over 270 of the thousands of individuals in the various caravans have criminal histories, including gang membership and crimes involving robbery and sexual assault.
Trump also warned of additional caravans forming in Central America. “Now they have worse caravans actually being formed. It’s terrible,” he said.
Trump’s command of the English language is so simplistic, it beggars belief. It seemed to work in Montana at the weekend as cheers went up from the crowd. Immigration was the issue that Trump kept returning to, despite the fact that Montana has one of the lowest percentages of undocumented immigrants of any state. Yet, despite having such low numbers of illegal immigrants, most Montanans, that the media spoke to, said the issue was at the top of their minds for this election cycle.
Borders and Immigration
Once again an election is all about immigration. It is the overriding factor that worries Trump’s supporters. It was the same issue that dominated the UK referendum on the EU – borders and immigration. It was also the issue with the German elections in September 2017. Angela Merkel’s allowance of over 1 million refugees into Germany basically cost her party the majority. She had to accept a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party. Now, just over a year later, Chancellor Merkel has said she will be stepping down as leader of her party within the next 3 years.
Is this really what we are all concerned about? Of course we have to have borders to control immigration but not to stop it completely. Yet it appears that in a troubled world where so many are seeking refuge from their neighbours, we are all building stronger and bigger borders. Can this be the answer?
We are the generation that have been so lucky to have enjoyed freedom to travel throughout the world. We have welcomed immigrants into our lives, into our homes and our children have enjoyed the riches of learning first hand about other cultures.
On our side of the pond it is Brexit that is changing all of that. On the other side of the pond it is the President who is battening down the hatches. It may bring him support and respect from his followers, but it is causing terrible fear and anger amongst the other half of the US that did not vote for him. It is a dangerous and emotive policy for Trump to use in the current election campaign for the Republicans. If it works it will be even more worrying. I will not compare Trump to Hitler, as some do, as I think this is a very different time. However it was the policy that Hitler adopted to win his party power in the elections in Germany in 1933. There is a growing fear, both here and in the US, that immigrants are taking our jobs and draining our economy.
Fear may be the most powerful feeling of all for humans, and though it helps us survive, it is also one of the most dangerous for politicians to promote in order to gain power.