The upcoming US Elections
20 October, 2014
The upcoming US Elections
In a couple of weeks the US will hold what are known as mid-term elections. These are those held on even numbered years when there isn't a presidential election. Rather than one parliament as in Georgia, in the US, there are two chambers, the House of Representatives, with 435 members each representing about 700,000 people and the Senate with two senators for each of the fifty states. All the House members need to be elected each two years. Since the senate term is six years, a third of the Senate will be up for election every two years. Currently the Democrats control the Senate and the Republicans control the House.

Obama has been president for six years and only has two years left, his popularity is lower than it was but no where near as low as Bush's was at a similar point. In general the Democrats seem to have been focusing on the next presidential election in which they are likely to support Hillary Clinton rather than focusing on the congressional candidates and races in this election. The Republicans on the other hand have been working hard, particularly to take control of the Senate. According to the best statisticians there is a 60% chance that they will be successful.

There are three main groups of Republicans which makes it very difficult for them to explain clearly who they are to the American public. The first and smallest group is the Libertarians. Their most likely presidential candidate for the 2016 elections is Rand Paul. They believe, as a principal, government should get out of people's lives. The less government the better. There are relatively few dedicated Libertarians but bits and pieces of their ideology and rhetoric is picked up here and there by the mainstream Republican Party. The second group within the Republican party is what we can call the Rich Old White Men. They are not all rich, old, white or men, but are mostly those things, certainly the leaders. They are the ones who want to government to operate so that it subsidizes and protects their families interests and the interests of their businesses. They are some time known as the 1%. For the 2012 presidential elections, there were many candidates from different groups but as is usually the case, this group had their guy get the nomination, Mitt Romney who lost against Obama. These are the ones
with the money so they usually, but not always, get what they want. The third group calls themselves the Tea Party. They were created by the Republican party to be a grass-roots anti-Obama group. They are tend to be white, male, not so educated and in suburbs or the countryside. Many are racist or have other prejudices. The rich old white man wing of the party set them up to gather votes against Obama, but now they have somewhat of a life of their own.

These three groups are fighting it out to get Republican candidates in primary races, and for the Republican nomination to run against Hillary Clinton. Because they are competing internally and the one thing they all agree on is that they hate Obama, they often compete to see who hates him the most since it is practically the only thing they can agree on. It is not clear who the Republicans will nominate to run, but usually the rich white guys will decide and it will be fun watching them get to that point.

In this election the Senate may change over to Republican control. If that happens Obama's job becomes more difficult. He can do very little. Both the Senate and the House together are the US Congress and it has much more power than any European Parliament. Much of the president's power is informal but if the Democrats loose the Senate, then there will be few new initiatives from the president for his last two years.

So what does all this mean for Georgia? Although Georgia feels sharply politically divided now, it is important to remember that other places are too, certainly the US. Second, sometimes because of Georgia's respect for Ronald Reagan, there is a feeling that Republicans are more anti-Russian and pro-Georgian than Democrats. This not true. In fact Democrats are just not as prone to aggressive rhetoric about it as the Republicans. Obama had a much more realistic policy towards Misha than Bush did for example. In reality, whoever wins, the US policy towards Georgia will not change much, the goals are still the same. Step by step integration with EU and NATO structures, peace, fair elections, the rule of law, open media, and a strong open economy. Those things won't change between the Democrats and Republicans and most people in Georgia want them too.

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