It was a rallying cry that will echo down through the unwritten pages of American history. It was the soft blast of a clarion reaching out through the darkness to touch the dawn.
It happened just before midnight, Eastern Standard Time, when fear slipped the surly bonds of fear itself, and responded with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people. In seven simple words: “Let’s hear it for pre-existing medical conditions!”
The Democrats have regained control of the House of Representatives, and their leader Nancy Pelosi knew exactly why. When the subpoenas come, the publishing of Trump’s tax returns, maybe even impeachment, the world’s debt will be to America’s rheumatoid army.
In exit poll after exit poll, American voters told pollsters it was healthcare that had done it. Trump tried to grab them by the gammy leg, by the dodgy hip, by the creaky elbow, by whatever he could get his hands on, but it turns out, actually, they don’t just let you do it. Not even when you’re the president.
“Tomorrow will be a new day in America,” Pelosi told the whooping crowds, which within minutes turned out to be a vanishingly rare example of modern political soothsaying not gone wildly wrong.
That moment of the very highest drama that have become customary on these kinds of occasions in recent years never quite arrived. For the British TV viewer, the rapid ascent up and down the rolling news channels moved in both directions through what appeared to be a Philip Hammond Marathon Night on the BBC Parliament channel.
Not just Treasury Questions in the commons but an appearance before the Treasury Committee too. As a never-ending army of pundits came and went, each emphatically certain about exactly why the emphatically unknowable was or wasn’t happening, the chancellor provided a valuable public service. At least he doesn’t pretend to have a clue what’s going on.
The Republicans have increased their majority in the Senate, which was to be expected, but provided plenty of ammunition to allow them to re-badge failure as success. “Tremendous success tonight. Thank you to all!” the president declared, on Twitter, naturally.
On a night of near unprecedented electoral success for both women and people of colour, it cannot be ruled out the president was in fact channelling the sentiments of long suffering trivia memoriser Gloria from cult street basketball flick White Men Can’t Jump. Sometimes, Donald, when you win, you actually lose. And sometimes when you lose, you actually win. Winning and losing is all one big organic globule from which one extracts what one needs.
And on the subject of big organic globules winning while actually losing, arguably the night belonged to Ted Cruz, that soft Texan man baby, who somehow manages to look simultaneously three and 75, his declared 47 years presumably being a rough average of the two.
Having come desperately close to being the first Texan Republican to lose a Senate seat in 30 years, Cruz pleaded for “unity”. This result, he reckons, had been “a victory for a common sense agenda”.
Cruz wants an end to the bitterness he singularly failed to stop when he had the chance, but he also reckons common sense is Republican. He won, he says, because the “single working mom sees her wages rising because the economy is doing so well”. He won, he says, because the Houston oil worker’s wages are going up, because America is the “world’s number one producer of oil”.
This oily future is one they appear to buying into over in Florida too, an entire state that is, on average, five metres above sea level, and stands to be wiped out in the near future by a force its politicians do not believe exists.
Mitt Romney popped up shortly after, victorious again in Utah, another Republican big fish calling for “dignity” and “respect”, but who conspired to do so much less than the square root of nothing when this one in a 1,000-year storm of hate first came sweeping through their country.
These pleas for unity are commonly understood as not especially well coded attacks at Donald Trump, but the trouble is, on Tuesday, the American people did not really vote for unity. They’ve voted for Democrats to take control of all important congressional committees that will spend the next two years going after Trump with everything they’ve got.
It is hard not to suspect that will suit him fine. They will have to hope they get him. Because the 2020 campaign has begun in earnest now, and if they don’t succeed, they will certainly make him stronger. His pre-existing conditions are well known, and they haven’t stopped him yet.
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