One Crazy Week In US Politics

Viraj Shankar

This week may just have been the most insane week of politics in US history, which is saying something considering the era we are currently living in. 

On Monday night, all hell broke loose during the Iowa Caucuses, when the Iowa Democratic Party announced that hundreds of technical issues and irregularities, as well as the malfunctioning of a newly designed app, messed up vote totals. TV anchors waited for hours, their faces marred with consternation, as they awaited the first votes to come out of Iowa. On Tuesday, President Trump gave what many are considering the most partisan and divisive State of the Union in recent memory. And, on Wednesday, the impeachment trial came to an end, when the US Senate voted to acquit Trump of both charges made by the House of Representatives.

The mass hysteria in Iowa was unprecedented, and results only started to trickle in on Tuesday afternoon, almost a full day after caucusing had begun. Now, nearly five days after the caucuses, the results remain unknown, with candidates Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg locked in a dead heat. The voting was riddled with irregularities, and the DNC chair has called for a recanvass of the entire state. Yet while the outcome remains unknown for now, the results show a clear loss for Joe Biden, who placed a distant fourth, well behind the two top vote-getters, and Elizabeth Warren. The focus now moves to New Hampshire, where the next primary is set to begin on Wednesday. 

Then, on Tuesday, while everyone was still sorting through the results of Iowa, nearly the entire Congress convened in the House Chamber to listen to the State of the Union. During the address, Trump mainly touted the US economy, but also touched on illegal immigration and partisan infighting. Many viewed the address as extremely divisive, noting that it sounded more like a campaign rally than a legitimate presidential speech. Republicans gave a standing ovation to almost every point that Trump made, while Democrats sat in silence, at time vocally protesting. One of the most controversial moments came when Trump presented Rush Limbaugh, a misogynistic, racist conservative commentator, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Fact checkers have indicated that Trump’s speech was heavily peppered with lies and misleading claims, including false promises to protect health care and social security. However, the viral moment of the night only came at the very end, when Speaker Pelosi, who was snubbed a handshake from Trump before the address, ripped up the speech in front of the entire congress. 

Finally, on Wednesday, Trump’s acquittal capped off an extremely heavy 3 days in US politics. In the lead up to the vote, Democrats had pressed the Senate to include more witness testimony, particularly from John Bolton, who had recently made headlines when The New York Times announced that they had obtained excerpts from his new book which indicated that Trump told Bolton that Ukrainian aid was being held up until Ukraine announced it’s investigation into the Democratic National Committee and the Bidens. Despite this bombshell claim, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell maintained that it was not necessary to hear from more witnesses. In the end, all Democrats voted to convict Trump on Abuse of Power, along with one Republican (Utah Senator Mitt Romney). All other Republican voted to acquit, though, hence the vote failed 52-48. 

The news cycle somewhat died down on Thursday, only to gain steam again on Friday, when Trump gave an unrestrained speech on Friday decrying the impeachment process and vilifying Nancy Pelosi, while newly release votes in Iowa narrowed the gap between Sanders and Buttigieg, throwing the Democratic Primary into even more chaos just days before New Hampshire begins voting. 

One crazy week, indeed.