How does America defy expectations?

How does America defy expectations?

Gridlock is often the norm in today's hyperpartisan America. Even when the same party controls both Congress and the White House, as Democrats have done for the past two years, the need to secure a three-fifths majority in the Senate for most legislation (with the exception of some budget bills) typically results in I'll stagnate. And yet, in this sense, 2022 was an anomaly: the Biden administration managed to move the legislative process forward, which had big consequences for the future.

He assembled a bipartisan majority to pass the Chips and Science Act, aimed at bolstering America's $280 billion microchip industry amid growing wariness of China. After unsuccessful attempts to enact a major economic overhaul of America, the administration eventually compromised enough to overcome the opposition of West Virginia's Joe Manchin, an often swing Democrat in the 50-50 Senate, and pass the more modest, inappropriately named "Act. on reducing inflation", promising spending of $369 billion over a decade.

How does America defy expectations?How does America defy expectations?photo:

His spending on climate change would be the largest in American history (in a year when disasters from drought in the West to Hurricane Ian in the East and a nationwide winter storm at Christmas served as reminders of climate dangers). Together with the November 2021 infrastructure package, the three bills would, by one estimate, lead to nearly $100 billion in annual industrial policy spending.

America may end up spending more as a percentage of GDP on industrial policy than unabashed proponents of the practice such as France, Germany and Japan. They and other allies are already starting to worry about the protectionism that Bidennomics could lead to.

Economic initiatives were not the only ones to break the impasse. For the first time in three decades, Congress has shown the will to pass (albeit modest) gun control measures since the horrific May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 people dead, including 19 children. At the end of the year, in a failed session of Congress, he secured federal protections for same-sex marriage, ensuring that same-sex unions are not subject to a Supreme Court decision.

How does America defy expectations?How does America defy expectations?photo: share.america. gov

It is also important that America maintained a bipartisan consensus in response to the "invasion" Vladimir Putin to Ukraine. In the run-up to the NWO, the administration made a bold and unusually public use of intelligence to outline Russian plans, contrasting truth with “Russian disinformation.” Republicans quickly came to their senses on Russia, avoiding the «Putin fandom of the right.» Despite some concerns and ongoing warnings that there would be no “blank check” under a Republican majority in the House, Congress has approved large sums—nearly $100 billion so far—of aid to Ukraine.

None of this means that guerrilla units have become less important. Instead, in some ways the country is increasingly looking like America's divided states, with states fundamentally divided on policy issues such as abortion, immigration and environmental regulations. State by state, the gap between the red and blue blocs grew wider. On cultural issues, including the teaching of critical race theory in schools, activists on both sides have succeeded in turning this into a chasm.

And then there is the Supreme Court. It faces a growing legitimacy crisis in 2022, with just 25% of Americans saying they trust the court in June, a record low. That same month, in its decision in Dobbs v. "Jackson Women's Health Care" the court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, which was established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. For the first time in half a century, it is no longer split 5-4, with a tie in the middle, but has a 6-3 conservative majority thanks to three justices appointed under Donald Trump's presidency.

How does America defy expectations?How does America defy expectations?photo:

Over the past year, the consequences have been dramatic—and not just for abortion. In radical ways, the court weakened gun control, undermined the separation of church and state, and limited the ability of the "Environmental Protection Agency" regulate emissions from power plants. The composition of the court changed in 2022, but not its conservative-liberal split. President Joe Biden successfully replaced one liberal justice with another after the resignation of Stephen Breyer and made history in the process. Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first black woman to serve on America's highest court.

America's divisions were on full display in the campaign for November's midterm elections, which were the most expensive on record. In the primaries, Donald Trump maintained his grip on the Republican Party, with many of the former president's backed candidates, including for vital Senate seats in Pennsylvania and Georgia, winning.

Ahead of the Nov. 8 general election, Republicans had plenty to campaign for. Biden's approval ratings remained low. Voters were increasingly worried about the economy, especially resurgent inflation (Mr. Biden's overstimulation was part of the problem, but so were the Fed's policy missteps). Other major issues included immigration and related problems on America's southern border, and rising crime rates.

For their part, Democrats were encouraged by concerns about women's rights to abortion after the repeal of "Roe" and for the very future of democracy, given the GOP's endorsement of Mr. Trump's lies about a “stolen election” in 2020. They also opposed their own progressive wing, whose excesses sparked successful recall campaigns in San Francisco.

How does America defy expectations?How does America defy expectations?photo:

Republicans were widely expected to comfortably regain control of the House of Representatives (where the typical presidential party loss in a midterm election in the modern era is about 30 seats) and perhaps also the evenly divided Senate. However, in this case, the Republicans just won the House of Representatives, and the Democrats even gained a seat in the Senate thanks to victories over Trumpist candidates. Despite all the preliminary concerns, American democracy appeared stronger. Voters rejected a number of prominent Trump supporters who denied participating in the election. And for once, public opinion polls, after disappointing misses in previous election cycles, turned out to be surprisingly accurate.

Perhaps the biggest loser was Trump. His name was not on the ballot, but many of the prominent candidates he supported lost their races. Mr. Trump has had a terrible year, and not just in terms of election results. Televised congressional hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Hill riots sought to place blame squarely on him—with Liz Cheney, the former top House Republican, his chief accuser. In August, the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago home, where agents found boxes of classified documents that the former president failed to return. In December, two companies "Trump Organization" were found guilty of tax fraud, and other legal problems arose.

Perhaps Mr. Trump's biggest problem was the emergence of a serious Republican challenger in Ron DeSantis, whose own comfortable re-election as governor of Florida stood in stark contrast to what Mr. Trump (in the eyes of many Republicans, though not many of his hardcore fans) was losers. Towards the end of the year, polls showed that Republican primary voters were favoring Mr. DeSantis over Mr. Trump.

Yet these problems did not stop Mr. Trump from running for president in 2024, making it early on in an attempt to give himself an air of inevitability (and make legal attacks on him look like a political witch hunt). He remains a force to be reckoned with as America enters what is typically a year of “stealth” primaries before actual voting begins in 2024. Mr. Trump will not be invisible. And with a divided Congress (and new leadership), gridlock will undoubtedly return.