Politico – a gossip rag dressed up as an important political news organisation – is generally more miss than hit, but an article of theirs caught my attention this week. It is, of course, related to Donald Trump, but focuses on how his campaign and victory affected American news organisations, particularly those traditionally associated with the Republicans. These organisations, Politico tells us, are ‘conservative’ news outlets.
The outlets most affected? Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.
My general policy with posts on this site is that I do not engage with day-to-day, ground level political discussion, which is often wild, misplaced and quickly forgotten. Do you remember what was dominating political headlines in your country a month ago? Two months ago? Six? I doubt it.
Occasionally, though, a situation will call for some comment, if only to set in place a guiding principle for you to bear in mind whenever similar stories come up over the next however-many years. One such occasion is happening right now, and it has to do with the foreign policy direction of the Trump presidency.
Trump’s decision to bomb a Syrian governmental air base was, for the most part, strongly supported by traditional instruments of power, while being disliked by his base. Naturally, the question both of these groups have been asking since is ‘Is Trump going to become another ‘policeman of the world?’, which seems like a reasonable question on the surface, but is actually just the kind of wild, misplaced and quickly forgotten discussion that benefits no-one and achieves nothing, because on its own, it lacks any supporting statement. It has no thesis to work towards. There is no attempt in asking the question to view the actions of the US administration within a political framework.
The final results are in for the Western Australian state election, an election in which conventional political wisdom was meant to return in full. Instead, it decided that it quite enjoyed being on holiday and just kind of phoned it in, delivering Labor not just a win – like it was supposed to – but one of the most crushing victories in Australian electoral history.
Venezuela has been in a downward spiral since the death of socialist icon Hugo Chavez in 2013. During his presidency, Chavez was a whirlwind of activity, using the price of oil to fund socialist initiatives in his oil-rich but poor nation, nationalising whole industries in the process. His death came at just the wrong time, as in 2014 the price of oil plummeted, and the country plunged into crisis, with food and medicine shortages. Chavez may have been able to troubleshoot the country out of the crisis, but his chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro, is a much more stoic, stable character than his charismatic ‘father’ – and therefore not the kind of person to fix an economic and political crisis such as this. Maduro has instead spent his presidency attempting to retain his hold on power while the nation’s economic and social situation continues to fall, strengthening his own position as president wherever he can while the people he is meant to be serving struggle to have food on the table and stay healthy.
The latest manoeuvre in this depressing story comes from the Supreme Court, which decided to revoke the legislative power of Congress (which now has an opposition majority) and take it for themselves, making themselves a legislative and judicial body. Because the Court is full of Maduro appointees that belong to the ruling Socialist Party, this would mean that Maduro, the head of the executive, has control of all three arms of government. Maduro reversed the Court’s decision a day later, but the scale of the backlash suggests that people find something distinctly wrong with the mingling of the judicial branch of government mingling with the legislative branch of government.