The Upbeat: Oil and Elections
The past few days have been rather slow, and I haven't been as engaged with the news cycle as I normally am -- it's important to be able to step away from time to time -- but I still have a few items to share with y'all as the world keeps turning and people keep fighting to address the critical issues of our time.
While our national elections are full of acrimony, it seems to me that local and state elections are significantly kinder. There are, of course, plenty of examples of spicy state-level campaigns, but since local governments provide most of the services people use from day-to-day, results often speak for themselves before the campaigning even begins. This week Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon (R) announced his re-election, focusing on the successes of his first term instead of mudslinging. It's nice to see people focusing on the good issues that justify voting for somebody, instead of the bad complaints that justify voting against somebody.
-- Seal with a Pen
Congress asserts control over oil imports. Two new bills became law last Friday. The first of these prohibits importing oil and other energy products from Russia and allows the President to sanction foreign persons for human rights abuses (think the Uyghur camps in China, or the Rwandan genocide) and/or corruption. While Biden had already banned the import of Russian oil previously, this bill re-asserts Congress' constitutional control over legislating imports and exports. The second bill passed on Friday eliminates free trade with Russia and Belarus, who previously received special treatment to benefit trade. Both measures were passed with unanimous consent in the Senate, with every single Senator in favor. The European Union is also considering a full oil embargo with Russia, which some believe may force an end to the war in Ukraine. Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2022/04/07/senate-ban-russian-oil-trade-00023767 (POLITICO), https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/07/senate-passes-ban-on-russian-oil-and-gas-imports-.html (CNBC)
Weekend elections. Three widely-recognized countries held national elections this past weekend, including America's earliest ally, France. In a world where we frequently hear that democracy and freedom are on the decline, stories of people triumphing over dictatorship are inspiring and heartwarming. Just one such a story took place this weekend, with the small African nation of The Gambia electing a new legislature for the second time since the last dictator was deposed. When countries are trying to make a fresh start and "consolidate," as we say, a young democracy, elections are especially important to shaping the country's future. Gambia's new legislature doesn't have a majority for the new president's party or the opposition, which makes it difficult for the president to start a new dictatorship or for the opposition to stop his agenda. Furthermore, in France the presidential election is headed to a runoff between the top two candidates, the incumbent centrist Emmanuel Macron versus conservative firebrand Marine Le Pen, while in Mexico the incumbent left-wing president survived a recall election and will continue to serve until 2024. Read more: https://www.politico.eu/article/5-takeaways-from-frances-presidential-election/ (French election, POLITICO)