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Instant Opinion: US ‘embracing banana republic politics’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 19 December

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The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Gerard Baker in The Times

on Donald Trump’s impeachment

The US is embracing banana republic politics

“The way politics works these days it’s become de rigueur not just to oppose but to delegitimise. Recent history suggests a vicious circle at work. With opinion polarised in an almost 50-50 nation, the number of people who can be won over by argument is fast diminishing. Politics then becomes more about riling up the partisans on each side. There’s no more effective way of doing that than to go through the motions (given the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate to remove a president from office it’s unlikely ever to be more than that) of the ultimate sanction.”

2. Peter Baker in The New York Times

on America divided

A President Impeached, and a Nation Convulsed

“Impeachments come at times of tumult, when pent-up pressures seem to explode into conflict, when the fabric of society feels tenuous and the future uncertain. The impeachment battles over Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton came at turning points in the American story. The time that produced Mr. Trump has proved to be another one, a moment when the unthinkable has become routine and precepts that once seemed inviolable have been tested. Trump, in his divisiveness, is the manifestation of a nation fracturing into warring camps and trying to define what America is about all over again, just as it did during Reconstruction, during the era of Vietnam and Watergate and during the rise of a new form of angry partisanship at the dawn of the information age.”

3. Iain Dale in The Daily Telegraph

on liberal bias

The BBC is trapped in a Remainer London bubble of its own making

“’Adapt or die’ is a maxim the BBC would do well to adopt if it is to survive the coming years. Following its questionable coverage of the general election, it is going through one of its occasional periods of introspection, where it feels under attack from politicians from all sides. Instead of complaining about it or piously intoning the value of the licence fee, however, it needs to open its eyes to the scale of its detachment from Britain today.”

4. The Guardian editorial

on sport and politics

Özil, Arsenal and Liverpool: football with a conscience

“Liverpool considered the dreadful issue of young men dying in Qatar, particularly in the context of the bereaved Hillsborough families’ 30-year campaign for justice over the deaths of their loved ones at a Liverpool match, and decided they had to speak out. By contrast Arsenal’s exposure of their own player to vilification in China, and the club’s studied lack of interest in the horrors of Xinjiang, falls far short. At home, Premier League clubs have for years supported substantial community programmes, effectively as part of a settlement with successive governments which have declined calls to regulate the game’s commercial excesses. Nobody is calling on football clubs to devote themselves to politics – but when they have the opportunity to employ their power in a just cause, they should not miss the target.”

5. Paul Nailer in The Independent

on political parallels

Democrats are in danger of learning the wrong lessons from the UK's election results

“What worries me about the Democrats, liberals and all good people everywhere is that they will miss the systemic issue underlying the global move to the right — of which Boris Johnson’s victory is a not even particularly notable event in an unfortunate and accelerating series of them. The real issue is that good people everywhere are fatigued from the very taxing efforts necessary to sustain democracies and communities and the types of families that don’t double as organized criminal enterprises. It takes more energy to sustain and improve than to tear down, and the well-supported right — albeit a minority overall — is being vectored and resourced by a laser-focused ecosystem bent on tearing down western liberal democracies. The US and western democracies are especially susceptible to these efforts because they are fatigued, and because they have a lot of social and other forms of capital that require protecting and can be easily torn down.  In other words, liberal and western democracies are constantly playing defense right now, and they’re wearing themselves out in the process.”

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