New Delhi: Does president Donald Trump’s midterm election loss of the House of Representatives put a question-mark on his return in 2020? And if Trump fails to be re-elected, could the rest of the world expect to see a change in the protectionist policies and hard geopolitics initiated by him? The answers are a mixture of things.

The Republican Party has increased its majority in the Senate while losing the House to the Democrats. This makes governance technically more difficult for the White House even as a greater Senate majority strengthens Trump’s hand in other ways. The midterm election reveals two trends which are well-known but nevertheless significant. By winning the House and easily too, the Democratic Party has once again shown that it enjoys the majority of the popular vote. This was also the case with the presidential election and its candidate, Hillary Clinton. But the Senate victory states that the Republican Party has a more widespread base that encompasses rural communities than the narrower Democratic control of cities albeit with higher populations. Trump won the presidential election on that count.

It is possible that history may repeat when Donald Trump stands for re-election. An incumbent president has a natural advantage over a first-timer although not always as Bill Clinton’s election proved. But the Democratic Party has no one equal to Clinton or Barack Obama presently though it is early days. What any Democratic contender would have to face is Donald Trump’s successful transformation of US geopolitics and geo-economics. North Korea is definitely not a threat anymore and Iran may not survive sanctions for long if the oil economy collapses. It looks headed there.

In theory, you could oppose Trump’s protectionist policies. But there is grudging acceptance in most quarters that it has acted like tonic on the US economy with job-growth being an outstanding feature. There is realization in Washington that loathe him all you wish but Trump has re-established America as a world leader. The threat to US power from China seems suddenly containable since Donald Trump has constrained the growth of the Chinese economy. A challenge has also been mounted on China’s illegal claims on the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Trump’s opposition contender cannot trash these achievements and still hope to win.

Nevertheless, elections are also lost as much as they are won. For all the credit due to him for regenerating the US economy, thoughtful and liberal Americans cannot stand their president. If a doughty Democratic challenger wins over rural America, the tide could turn. There is the further matter of the Russian affair. US diplomats posted here believe impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump could gather strength in early 2019. With a comfortable Senate majority, Trump is in no obvious danger. A lot depends on what the Robert Mueller inquiry turns up. If it is exceedingly damaging to Trump, he could go like Richard Nixon. It would seal the Republican fate in the presidential election of 2020.

But even if Trump goes in an irregular way, his legacy of hard geopolitics and geo-economics is likely to survive. The benefits to the US economy and US power from his tough vision cannot be negated. Nixon’s opening with China tested White House strength and determination against entrenched establishment opposition to China. It was a leftover of the Cold War, the anti-communism emerging from the Korean War, and US support for Chiang Kai Shek against Mao Zedong in the civil war. But Nixon’s China policy survived his disgrace and ouster to be expanded by successive presidents till Donald Trump pushed a counter programme. There is today bipartisan support for containing China and rebuilding America. Trump’s policies will continue even if he doesn’t return for a second term.

What may change, however, is Trump’s abrasive behaviour even with friends and allies like NATO Europe, Japan and India. Even so, India, to take one example, cannot expect to be treated liberally as before in gaining advantages from the open US economy. The IT sector, for instance, has had its good days. It has substantially to contribute to the US economy ahead of hoping to make profits. Similarly, there is no escaping balanced trade with the United States. India is classified as a major economy. It shouldn’t expect preferential treatment like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Donald Trump’s shock therapy will continue in less severe and hurtful forms. America will more or less run on his tracks for at least twenty years.