Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week 50: "#TimeToGetTough"

Dear Readers,

We’ve officially made it fifty weeks! I’m as impressed as you are.

The election may have passed but there’s always more news. If at any time you no longer wish to receive this newsletter, feel free to reply and let me know. A reminder that all newsletters (and more) are available at

Explaining the Louisiana Senate Runoff

Next Saturday, John Kennedy and Foster Campbell will face off in a runoff for Louisiana’s Senate seat. While it’s unimportant and the Republican, Kennedy, should win easily, I figured I’d explain why it’s happening. Louisiana’s elections begin with a “jungle primary” on election day. What is a jungle primary? Well, instead of having primaries within a party, all the candidates are listed on the same ballot. Then, the top two candidates advance to a runoff, held a month after the election. There are both benefits and drawbacks to this system, but multiple states have it, including California and Washington. Louisiana is the only one that holds the jungle primary on election day, however.

Another Week in Trump’s America

So much happened this week that I will give a bullet-point list, rather than write paragraphs:

-Trump called the leader of Taiwan this week, a controversial move considering that the Taiwan-China dispute is one of the most heated in the world. Trump’s decision to call Taiwan is seen by many (including many in Beijing) as a mistake rather than a deliberate decision of policy, but it could spell worrisome considering that both Trump and China are not quiet in their foreign actions.

-In a more routine call, Trump called Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The only reason it was newsworthy was because of the things Trump said about Pakistan, not necessarily known as a huge ally of the U.S. President Trump reportedly said “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy... Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems." Pakistan, of course, is most notable for being the country in which Osama bin Laden hid. Trump himself once tweeted: "Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We've given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect — and much worse. #TimeToGetTough."

-In yet another incident with a foreign leader, this week Phillippine president Rodrigo Duterte, certainly no stranger to controversy, claimed that Donald Trump endorsed his antidrug campaign. Okay, what’s the problem with that? Well, Duterte’s anti-drug policy has been to round up drug dealers and kill them. Not only does he do this, he likely kills people who aren’t actually accused of dealing drugs and who he just doesn’t like. Regardless of that last statement, it is awful to give drug dealers the death penalty - even the most vocal supporters of the death penalty usually agree it shouldn’t be used for much more than murder. If Trump is truly in support of this, like Duterte says, it would spell a worrying future for America.

-Trump continues to insist that the popular vote in the election was rigged because of millions who voted illegally, and vice president-elect Mike Pence is defending him on it, claiming it’s “his right to express his opinion.” First off, it’s not an “opinion.” Trump is claiming a massive occurrence of voter fraud that somehow escaped all data and all reports. The reason this matters is because it shows Trump’s attitude towards voter suppression, a practice his party commonly engages in, and which is objectively anti-democracy.

This Week In World Elections
The Gambia: For the fifth time, twenty-year dictator Yahya Jammeh held an election to see if he could continue his rule. The most recent time, he easily won 71% of the vote. This time, he did everything in his power to hack the results, shutting down the internet on election day. However, challenger Adama Barrow, a businessman, won 46% of the vote and somehow defeated Jammeh. This will notably mark the first peaceful transition of power ever in The Gambia.

Austria: For the third time, Austria has held their presidential runoff. After the first round of voting in April, it was announced the runoff would be held between Green Party candidate and economics professor Alexander van der Bellen, and nationalist Islamophobe Norbert Hofer. However, the initial runoff was annulled after it was found that results were strange, such as 147% turnout in one precinct. So, they scheduled a round for October, but it was postponed again for today. This time, van der Bellen won with 53% of the vote.

Italy: In Italy, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi held a referendum on whether to shrink the Italian Senate. It wasn’t necessarily an unpopular decision, but Renzi messed up on one decision. He decided that if the vote failed, he would step down. That turned the decision into more of a referendum on Renzi himself. Lo and behold, the referendum failed, and he has to step down, which has probably paved the way for yet another nationalist to take power in a major Western country,

Thank you for reading. Feel free to comment or reply!

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