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Are US politics starting to turn towards a more hopeful future? | Gary Gerstle

We might one day look back on this midterm – and on Biden’s first two years – and discern in them a new beginning

Last week was amazing for Joe Biden. The Red Wave fizzled. The Democrats kept the Senate. Even if the House slips from the Democrats’ grasp, as it is expected to, Biden will be credited with engineering the strongest midterm showing by an incumbent president’s party since 2002, and the most impressive such performance by a sitting Democratic president since JFK in 1962. Women’s anger at the supreme court’s Dobbs decision hammered the Republicans in key states. Many of Trump’s highest-flying, election-denying candidates fell to earth, damaging the ex-president’s aura of invincibility. Fights and recriminations have now broken out everywhere in Republican ranks.

And there’s more from last week to bring a smile to Biden’s face: inflation moderated, the Dow rocketed skyward, and Ukrainians pushed the Russians out of Kherson, a big win not just for Ukraine but for Biden’s European foreign policy. And, oh yes, in America, young people – the country’s future – came out in relatively large numbers and, in critical contests, broke for the Democrats in a big way.

Gary Gerstle is Mellon professor of American history emeritus at Cambridge and a Guardian US columnist. His most recent book is The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era (2022)

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