A summary of important developments from the first week of November.
1. Race for Midterms Heats Up
With the midterms only days away, notable figures such as Former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama visited several key battleground states to encourage voters to turn out. With Democrats controlling the White House and Congress, the results of the midterms may give Republicans control of both houses of Congress as President Biden’s approval ratings fall. With issues like inflation, rising crime rates, and abortion listed as voters’ top concerns, it remains uncertain whether more Republicans or Democrats will vote in the heated election.
Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Georgia are all states with incredibly close races that have drawn national attention. In Pennsylvania, the race for Senate between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz has intensified as Fetterman’s early lead shrunk after he suffered a stroke and lost some auditory processing skills. Oz, who won the Republican primary in part due to an endorsement by former President Trump, emphasized his centrist position and has repeatedly cast Fetterman as a radical.
In Georgia, controversial Senate candidate Herschel Walker drew intense scrutiny when several of his past partners came forward alleging he paid for their abortions despite his public opposition to abortion. His opponent, Democrat Raphael Warnock, has denounced Walker as a “pathological liar” and referenced Walker’s past exaggerations of his professional and business achievements as reasons he is unfit to serve in Congress. Georgia broke the state record for early voting in the tight race.
During midterms, all 435 seats in the House and 35 seats of the Senate are up for election. Which party controls Congress will determine the progress the Biden administration will be able to make during the last 2 years in power, with some fearing Republican control of both houses will make the passing of bipartisan legislation difficult.
2. Elon Musk takes Ownership of Twitter
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, took complete ownership of Twitter Inc in late October and has already made significant changes to the company’s leadership. Musk fired Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, and legal affairs and policy chief Vijaya Gadde within his first week as CEO. Additionally, approximately 50% of Twitter employees were fired or laid off since Musk took over.
The billionaire has claimed he plans to reduce the number of spam bots on the platform and also open Twitter to free speech. In May, he said he would reverse the platform’s ban on former President Donald Trump, whose account was removed after the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
After public outcry at the prospect of loosened hate speech regulations and the reinstatement of Trump’s account, Musk wrote in an open letter: “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”
Musk prompted further backlash when his plan to charge $8 for a verified account was announced this week, with the price subject to change according to country. Several prominent figures, including Stephen King, decried the plan and asserted they would leave the platform. However, Musk asserted that since Twitter was losing more than $4 million dollars per day and his acquisition of the platform cost $44 billion, he had “no choice” but to make drastic changes.
3. Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva Wins Brazil’s Presidential Election
In the tight race for the Brazilian presidency, left-wing candidate Lula won in a stunning victory over former President Jair Bolsonaro. The victory comes after Lula was imprisoned for over a year following allegations of corruption. Lula won 60 million votes, breaking his own record, but only beating Bolsonaro by approximately 2 million votes with 50.9% of the runoff vote. Lula’s victory is a part of the “pink tide” sweeping Latin America, as leftist candidates have made major wins in Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Honduras in recent years.
When the election results broke, former President Bolsonaro waited two days before conceding to Lula. He had hinted over the past year of his presidency that he would not accept a loss, indicating that Brazil’s electronic voting system was vulnerable to fraud. His claims mirrored former President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud in the 2020 election.
Nevertheless, Lula aimed to ease political division upon his election. He said in a speech following the election, “As of January 1, 2023, I will govern 215 million Brazilians and not just those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people, and one great nation.”.
Lula is a former union leader and environmentalist who has advocated for tax reform and increased protections for the Amazon rainforest, which shrunk under Bolsanaro’s administration. He has promised to fight hunger in Brazil and also prevent further deforestation in the Amazon. Several world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, offered congratulations to the new Brazilian president following his victory.
Sources & Further Reading