Sherwin Pomerantz

American Democracy Redeemed  

The only way a thinking person can view the results of the 2022 mid-term elections in America is that once the decision was placed in the hands of the people, the people decided to save American democracy.

To recall the predictions just a day before the election, the Republicans expected to capitalize on the low approval ratings of US President Joe Biden and sweep both houses of congress as well as numerous local elections for governors, secretaries of state and local election officials.

For the record there were over 300 candidates for office nationwide who, even after two years since the presidential election of 2020, ran on a platform that underscored their inability to accept those results along with, in some cases, a promise to continue to work on reversing those results, albeit it is constitutionally impossible to do so.

Given that intent, coupled with the highest rate of inflation in 30 years, the most polarized population since the US Civil War 150 years ago, skyrocketing interest rates, the financial markets in disarray along with a host of other smaller discomforts, it is remarkable that the vote was not more lopsided in favor of the Republicans.

In fact, voters in a series of critical battleground states rejected Republican candidates for governor, attorney general and secretary of state who have spread doubts about the 2020 election, blocking an effort to install allies of former President Donald J. Trump in positions with sweeping authority over voting. Voters did not abandon Republican election deniers nationwide but very few of them were successful and, in those cases, by small margins to be sure.

Amazingly, and against all the polls, the Democrats kept control of the Senate and, depending on the results of the runoff election in Georgia in December could even have gained a seat to tip the majority to 51-49. And the split between Democrats and Republican governors remained the same as before the election, as well.

What happened? There will be a huge amount of post-election analysis on every side of the political spectrum. However, in my opinion, what happened is that people used their brains instead of their emotions and realized that America was on the brink of becoming an authoritarian state. Of course, that decision was made easier by the low candidate quality level in many races. Frankly, I cannot remember a time when there were so many people seeking office who were simply not qualified to serve, either morally or even from an intelligence standpoint.

The concern was based on the knowledge that often democracies become authoritarian and non-democratic through the democratic process itself. The individuals who lust for power or are concerned that what they have will be taken away by “the other” use the democratic process to get elected so that, if successful, they can then change the laws to suit their objectives. Hitler, Mussolini, Erdogan, Putin, Xi…..all have been elected “democratically” even though oftentimes the elections themselves were not “free” in the traditional understanding of that word.  They then used the office to which they were democratically elected to change the direction of their countries to suit their own personal desires.

Clearly large portions of the American voting public intellectualized this threat and decided to send a message to the government that they were not in favor of the direction that things were heading. The result is that more people voted in this mid-term election that at any time in the history of the country and, in so doing, put the brakes on candidates at both extremes, right and left, although seemingly more so to those on the right.

While the final results are still not available as of this writing, what we do know is that both houses of congress will be split somewhere along the lines of 51%-49% with the majority party holding a very slim edge. In this era of polarization this is the most that could have been wished for.

President Biden remarked earlier in the week that: “With their votes, the American people have spoken. They have proven once again that democracy is who we are.”

Ben Franklin in the days of the Constitutional Convention in the 1700s remarked that “America will be a republic, if we can keep it.” For 246 years the United States has met that challenge both internally and externally. 2022 brought the country to the brink of irreversible change but the populace was not having it and sent that message loud and clear to the political leadership. There is no other way to read this.

Let’s hope that those in power heard the message and will take it to heart so that the ship of state will have been righted properly and not simply rebalanced for the short term.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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