Sunlight falls on the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on December 23, 2022.
CNN  — 

Republicans’ take over of the House this week will usher in a two-year political era that threatens to bring governing showdowns and shutdowns as a GOP speaker and Democratic president try to wield power from opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The unprecedented possibility that former President Donald Trump, who’s already launched another bid for the White House, could face indictment could tear the nation further apart at a moment when American democracy remains under grave strain. The already stirring 2024 presidential campaign, meanwhile, will stir more political toxins as both parties sense the White House and control of Congress are up for grabs after the closely fought midterms.

Abroad, the war in Ukraine brings the constant, alarming possibility of spillover into a NATO-Russia conflict and will test the willingness of American taxpayers to keep sending billions of dollars to sustain foreigners’ dreams of freedom. As he leads the West in this crisis, President Joe Biden faces ever more overt challenges from rising superpower China and alarming advances in the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.

If 2022 was a tumultuous and dangerous year, 2023 could be just as fraught.

Washington power shift

Washington is bracing for a sharp shock. Since November, the big story has been about the red wave that didn’t arrive. But the reality of divided government will finally dawn this week. A House Republican majority, in which radical conservatives now have disproportionate influence, will take over one half of Capitol Hill. Republicans will fling investigations, obstruction and possible impeachments at the White House, designed to throttle Biden’s presidency and ruin his reelection hopes.

Ironically, voters who disdained Trump-style circus politics and election denialism will get more of it since the smaller-than-expected GOP majority means acolytes of the ex-president, like expected House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, will have significant sway. The new Republican-run House represents, in effect, a return to power of Trumpism in a powerful corner of Washington. If House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy wins his desperate struggle against his party’s hardliners to secure the speakership, he’ll be at constant risk of walking the plank after making multiple concessions to extreme right-wingers.