Vor 14 years ago, a largely unknown young senator named Barack Obama gave a speech at the Democratic Party congress, which capitulated him into the limelight of American politics; above all, because he vehemently denied that America is crumbling into left-liberal and conservative, republican and democratic. There is only the United States of America, Obama insisted, with the emphasis united.
Today, as the former Democratic president is campaigning and as his supporters have been thrilled, he sees America at a "crossroads". There is nothing left of reconciliation, there is the disillusioned view of a society that has fallen into hostile political camps and political-cultural milieus. America has also experienced phases of deep disunity earlier. But that does not make polarization any less depressing in the present.
This is the background against which millions of Americans choose a new Congress this Tuesday (many have already done so). The election is not least a vote on Donald Trump, a referendum on what he has said tweeted over the past almost 22 months as President. The Democrats have a good chance of winning the majority, at least in one chamber of the Congress.
The Republicans, backed by a strong economy, are certain that this will not happen and that Congress and the White House will remain in their hands in one. For the part of the voters that Obama mobilized, it would be the continuation of a nightmare, for Trump fans the fulfillment of the promise of an America that is back to its old size.
Donald Trump is not at the beginning of the division of America. Many have blame for the malaise; it is also driven by economic, social-cultural and demographic change. But as president Trump did not counteract the split. Until recently he has rushed against political opponents. He dramatized the subject of immigration as if America were threatening to perish here today.
Control on and across the border is an absolutely legitimate interest. But Trump is not about a sensible immigration policy. He blends the concerns (and resentments) of his constituents into a toxic cocktail. The congressional election will measure how much poison is in politics.