In Depth

Instant Opinion: ‘is America becoming a failed state?’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 6 November

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

1. Paul Krugman in the New York Times

on obstruction in the Senate

Is America becoming a failed state?

“We are in big trouble. Trump’s defeat would mean that we have, for the moment, avoided a plunge into authoritarianism — and yes, the stakes are that high, not just because of who Trump is, but also because the modern G.O.P. is so extremist and anti-democratic. But our skewed electoral system means that Trump’s party is still in a position to hobble, perhaps cripple, the next president’s ability to deal with the huge epidemiological, economic and environmental problems we face. Put it this way: If we were looking at a foreign country with America’s level of political dysfunction, we would probably consider it on the edge of becoming a failed state — that is, a state whose government is no longer able to exert effective control.”

2. Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune

on electoral reform

Our elections are a mess. From far left to hard right, we should all agree to fix them

“How about now? How about taking advantage of the unnecessary and agitating delay in learning who won the presidential race to begin the process of standardizing our patchwork system of elections? The craziness and absurdity of that system has been on full display this week as various states count ballots and report results from Tuesday’s election in various ways, prompting supporters of President Donald Trump to mass outside of government buildings chanting either ‘Count the vote!’ or ‘Stop the count!’ depending which way they think the tally is trending. We’re the most technologically advanced nation in the world and a putative beacon of democracy, yet the way we elect our leaders is a rats' orgy of weird and various rules, rituals and timetables that leads to the sort of prolonged uncertainty that sows distrust among the public. It’s embarrassing. It’s infuriating. It’s scary. And it’s fixable.”

3. Fraser Nelson in The Telegraph

on a government divided

Bounced into a second lockdown he didn’t want, is Boris Johnson still in charge of No 10?

“Skullduggery is always part of politics. But the power struggles within the Prime Minister’s inner circle this time led to a shambolic, twice-delayed Saturday press conference and perhaps the world’s most-watched PowerPoint presentation. The most startling figure – of those 4,000 daily deaths – was shown. But the figures fell apart after further scrutiny. It was weeks out of date, already revised downwards twice – it should never have made it to No 10, let alone been shown to 15 million viewers. This newspaper today reveals how even a supposedly more reliable six-week projection for hospital use contained basic errors.”

4. Ed Husain in The Spectator

on confronting extremism

Europe’s cities are becoming a refuge for Islamist extremists

“We must first of all be honest. Our country and compatriots depend on us getting this right. The threat we currently face is not about racism – which is why Christian Nigerians or Hindu Indians do not become terrorists in the West. It is not about unemployment, either – which is why white, working-class men, a demographic with high levels of unemployment, do not become suicide bombers. Instead, the threat from the menace of Islamist terror stems from a narrative – a dangerous cocktail of religion and politics – of the past, anger in the present, and a vision for the future. It is that narrative that we must confront head on and destroy.”

5. Graeme Reid on Al Jazeera

on breaking with orthodoxy

Why the pope’s endorsement of same-sex unions matters

“In Argentina, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Francis supported same-sex unions in a private meeting at a time when the extension of marriage seemed inevitable. Some say he saw civil unions as the lesser of two evils, a secular compromise to protect the Catholic Church’s view of marriage – a task he then described as ‘God’s war’. Whatever the reason, his willingness to endorse same-sex civil unions marked a significant break with Catholic orthodoxy. Since Argentina embraced same-sex marriage a decade ago, the recognition of marriage equality has gained momentum, with 29 countries now on board. Significantly, several Catholic-majority countries, including Colombia, Ireland and Malta, have taken this step.”

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