Week in review

9 November 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  at the Reardon Convention Center in Kansas City, on 20 July 2018.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the Reardon Convention Center in Kansas City, on 20 July 2018.


JOY ON ELECTION NIGHT. Recently, the news has been dominated by pictures of happy women. They are pictured smiling up at screens as results come in, sharing congratulatory handshakes with supporters, and stepping up to podiums to accept their seats and thank those who helped get them there. In every photo, their joy is apparent. Women won a record number of seats in the US Congress on Tuesday: all kinds of women. They came from many different backgrounds, were of many ages, and ran on many different platforms. Many claimed “firsts”. Sharice Davis and Deb Haaland became the first Indigenous women to be elected to Congress. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim women. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer, both 29 years old, became the first two women under the age 30 to be elected: they will join the 129 men who have served in the House during their 20s.

With a few races still uncalled at the time of publication, 111 women had won seats in the House of Representatives. They will be joined by approximately 20 women in the Senate. There will be at least 133 women in the next Congress, beating the previous record of 107. The other 400 seats or so will be occupied by their male counterparts. They will make up about a quarter of the house and about a fifth of the Senate. It’s a moment to celebrate.

DISASTER ON ALL FRONTS: THE CURRENT STATE OF THE VENEZUELAN CRISIS. The crisis in Venezuela has become increasingly catastrophic, with large amounts of the population fleeing the country due to violence, hyperinflation and shortage of food as well as medicine. The current socialist president Nicolás Maduro has failed to counter these problems, while the Venezuelan citizens are struggling. Already the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has commented on this matter, claiming it has been extremely straining on Colombia and other neighbouring countries. In regard to the relation of this issue to international affairs, it is interesting to note the lack of intervention from large powers. While the Trump administration has contributed significant efforts to ‘demonize’ a caravan of a mass of migrants, and other countries have yet to really become involved, despite the evolving crisis.

EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVES' NEW COMMISSION CANDIDATE. The European People's Party (EPP), the largest political group in the EU, nominated Manfred Weber as their candidate for the European Commission president on Thursday. The process of nominating a lead candidate, called Spitzenkandidat, states that the European Council should nominate the lead candidate of the party that wins the most votes in EU parliament elections as the commission president. However, this is not a legally binding process, and many have shown disdain for it. Weber, if he succeeds in his bid, would take over the position from fellow EPP member Jean-Claude Junker. Weber was seen as the establishment choice, as he is the leader of the EPP in parliament. However, he has had little experience in politics outside of the EU's institutions.

FLORIDA’S RETURNING CITIZENS. The US midterm elections are often seen as a referendum on the current president, and despite the hyper-partisan state of US politics, which President Trump has actively stoked, Floridians showed up at the ballot box on Tuesday to deliver stunning bipartisan support in passing constitutional amendment Four. Amendment Four restores the right to vote to those with a felony conviction who have already served their sentence, affecting more than one million Floridians with criminal records who have already paid their debts to society. This vote is highly significant for multiple reasons. First, it is overturning a law founded in a racist attempt to suppress the African-American vote that has resulted in the loss of voting rights for 40 percent of African-American men in Florida. Secondly, it will alter the makeup of Florida’s voting base, and given Florida’s position as a critical swing state this will likely have an major effect on upcoming elections.

DEADLY SHOOTING IN CALIFORNIA. At 2:19 am on November 8th, a man, whose name The Observer is not publicizing, used a legally obtained handgun to fatally shoot 12 people in Thousand Oaks, California. He entered a country bar named Borderline Bar & Grill on a college student night. Nearly 22 people were sent to the hospital, with Ron Helus, a dedicated law enforcement officer, among them. Trump commented on the incident, thanking law enforcement. Senator of California, Kamala Harris, is calling for action from Congress. Some of the victims were present at the Las Vegas shooting just last year. This is the 307th mass shooting of 2018, with 12,477 deaths accompanying it. The motive is still unclear as the investigation continues.

SESSIONS OUT. Embattled United States attorney-general Jeff Sessions resigned yesterday, after demands from President Donald Trump that he do so. Trump has largely blamed Sessions for the Justice Department's probe led by Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials. Trump's appointee to replace Sessions on at least an interim basis is Matt Whittaker, a highly partisan republican who has in the past panned the Russia investigation. This appointment has lead many to believe that this is a move by Trump towards ending the Mueller probe. If that were to occur it would pose a significant threat to the rule of law in the United States. It would represent a president intervening to end an investigation on attack from a foreign power because of the risk that it might implicate himself or his family.