Leader: Handing the keys to the GOP

Comfort was in short supply for President Barack Obama following the US midterm congressional elections on 2 November. It came in the defeats of Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell - two of the best-known figures in the anti-establishment Tea Party - and in the failure, in California, of the former eBay boss Meg Whitman, who spent a record $160m during her campaign.

A bad night for Mr Obama was also a bad night for America and the rest of the world. In the worst economic downturn in a generation, the US public has given control of the House of Representatives to a party that, in the words of Rand Paul, senator-elect for Kentucky, has "come to take our government back". Abolition of social security, scrapping the department of education and even revisiting the Civil Rights Act 1964 are all on the agenda. The fiscal retrenchment in the UK is nothing compared to the ambitions of a newly zealous Republican Party.

This article first appeared in the 08 November 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Israel divided