What's All The Racket About?

By Christopher Crown

December 21, 2018 5 min read

Renowned contributor to The New Yorker and author of "Charlotte's Web," writer E.B. White once said, "There's no limit to how complicated things can get." A wary peek at our nation's judicial unrest, environmental health or current foreign affairs shows this to be true. No matter what you see written in the spider silk, it's clear that as the world gets smaller, our current political issues get more complex.

The election of numerous female representatives and senators to Congress in 1992 spawned the term "the Year of the Woman." In 2018, the term re-emerged, as a huge wave of female candidates flooded ballots. Nia-Malika Henderson, senior political reporter for CNN, attributes the trend to the rise of the #MeToo movement, a nationwide push for women to speak up about instances when they were victims of sexual misconduct.

From news anchors and comedians to actors and CEOs, men across the country are being called out, almost weekly, for alleged harassment and misconduct. Many progressives and women, such as civil rights activist Tarana Burke, view this as an empowering opportunity for change. However, many conservatives and men -- even liberal actor Sean Penn, who respectfully countered the movement in an NBC interview in September -- view the #MeToo movement as creating a strong divide between men and women.

The controversial Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process showcased this divide. In a nutshell, President Donald Trump sought to appoint Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice. The president has the right to appoint whomever he chooses; however, in this case, the balance of the court was on the line. While being vetted by Congress, Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct by several women from his past. The Senate Judiciary Committee spent weeks reviewing the evidence against him, and Kavanaugh and one of his accusers were called before the committee. In the end, Kavanaugh was confirmed.

America's issues don't end with contested domestic politics. According to Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, man-made climate change is the biggest threat to our global environment, investments and stability. Damian Carrington, environmental editor for The Guardian, states that with the potential to substantially decrease America's gross domestic product, raise oceans, destroy cities, cause social and political unrest in developing nations, and start a worldwide war over water and farmland, climate change needs to be at the top of our to-do list. Citing the recent U.N. summit on climate change, Carrington makes clear that the world has not taken the steps it needs to abate this epidemic. When 197 countries agreed to work on solving this issue at the previous UNFCCC, the goal was to reduce carbon emissions (the main driver of human-induced climate change) and seek out sustainable solutions and reusable energies. Unfortunately, when the UNFCCC met recently, the secretary-general shared numerous reports showing that we are not on track and called upon countries to stop playing the blame game and focus on implementing policies.

In better news, Alan Rappeport, writer for The New York Times, recently cited the 90-day halt to the U.S.-China trade wars as one of the biggest political wins of the past few months. To get up to speed: China, in an effort to become a world superpower and protect its economy, has severely decreased its dependence on U.S. goods and services in response to President Trump's limiting and taxing many Chinese imports. Trump took on this endeavor in an effort to promote the national economy and reduce our reliance on Chinese manufacturing. However, it caused substantial financial upset in the U.S. and made the Chinese unwilling to cooperate. Recently, Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to negotiate a 90-day truce, in an attempt to sort out the ongoing trade war.

With so many political, social and environmental issues happening at once, it can seem like a full-time job to try to stay up-to-date on what's important, what's factual and what's just chatter. Instead, pick a few issues to care about and invest your time and attention. The world will keep spinning, much like Charlotte in her web.

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