What the midterm elections will signal to the world

In the year As November 8 approaches and American voters prepare to head to the polls, some of us worry about domestic issues like the economy, immigration and health care. Others worry about global issues like the economy, immigration, and even health care.

The reality is that most issues are interrelated. What happens in this country affects the rest of the world, and vice versa.

Think about it: Health issues like COVID-19 cross national borders.

Climate change affects all citizens in all corners of the world, but approaches vary by national policy.

Immigration is not just an American issue as we share a border with Mexico and immigrants are pouring into the US from many countries.

Inflation isn’t just what the Federal Reserve does with interest rates; It relates to everything from chip shortages to grain prices and the price of a barrel of oil.

The integrity of the election is not limited to the counting of votes in the country, but also to the interference of Russia and other foreign countries.

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All this means that analysts and voters should stop referring to domestic and international issues as separate topics.

Today we face the “middle” issues. As the results of the upcoming midterm elections become clear, some things may change in America, and those changes will affect how America is viewed around the world and international affairs.

Take, for example, the war in Ukraine. We are witnessing a partisan divide in the United States electorate over the Biden administration’s approach to Russia and Ukraine.

Recently, a letter from progressive Democrats to President Biden criticizing our Ukraine policy was retracted after it was leaked to the press.

Some Republicans are also beginning to question US policy on Ukraine. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has suggested that if he becomes Speaker of the House next year, he could block more defense and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

A strong midterm showing for Trump supporters could rekindle the former president’s “America First” approach.

Congress has a strong voice over war powers, meaning the House and Senate’s approach will determine how much support there is for responding to Russian actions, such as the use of so-called “dirty bombs” in Ukraine or tactical nuclear weapons. How the U.S. and NATO respond to the escalation of war will affect how Congress and the executive branch interpret the definition of “war.”

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Committee assignments could change on Capitol Hill, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which could affect how slowly or quickly President Biden’s remaining nominations for office move through.

China is another area where the Congress has a voice. So far, there has been bipartisan agreement on US-China policy, including CHIPS and the Science and Infrastructure Act — both of which seek to strengthen US competition with China in things like semiconductors.

But a new Congress may show differences within its parties on Asian positioning, such as Taiwan or America.

Of course, the power of the wallet is the key. Congress has budgetary authority over military spending, reflecting new sentiments about which members are elected. (In May, 57 House Republicans voted against the $40 billion Ukraine aid package. 11 Republicans opposed the measure in the Senate.)

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Congressional spending on everything from a Covid vaccine to Russia sanctions in the developing world could transform the US economy. Republican midterm victories in the Senate and House will have far-reaching implications for Europe and NATO as the war intensifies.

Finally, there are moral questions about this choice. The US is considered by most of the world to be a bastion of democracy. But this perception is under threat. The midterms signal what Americans value, sending a message about our national narrative and priorities — whether democracy is theory or practice, and whether America can still claim ownership of it.

Tara D. Sonnenshin is the Edward R. Murrow Practice Professor in Public Diplomacy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.


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