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Elections That Matter, And The Ones That Don't

Voting in France on April 23
Voting in France on April 23
Jillian Deutsch

-Analysis-

Donald Trump makes a lot of noise. In the past week alone, he made headlines for saying he thought being president of the United States "would be easier" and for calling North Korea's Kim Jong-un "a tough cookie." But friends and foes alike have advised us to pay attention to what he does more than what he says.

Well, on Thursday, something got done. In their second attempt, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representative passed a bill to undo the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, and replace it with measures that would cause 24 million people to lose their health insurance by 2026, cut $880 billion in Medicaid funding over the next decade, and create measures for denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, according to The Washington Post. The legislation still needs far-but-certain approval in the Senate, but Trump's fulfillment of a key campaign pledge has already left its mark.

All elections were not created equal.

There's a good lesson here for citizens elsewhere: Elections matter. They'll matter in France, where voters go out to the polls — or don't — on Sundayto choose between centrist Emmanuel Macron or far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. They will also matter when the British go vote again in snap parliamentary elections on June 8. And elections will matter again when Germans choose whether to give their longtime chancellor and European Union champion Angela Merkel a fourth term.

But it is also true that all elections were not created equal. Algerians have focused more of their attention on the upcoming elections in France (their former colonizers) than on their own legislative elections this week. Abu Dhabi-based The National reports that Algerian lack of interest in their own elections is explained by a belief that corruption and bribery are so entrenched that a vote wouldn't change anything.

Meanwhile in Venezuela, the death toll is rising in national protests, as democratically-elected President Nicolas Maduro looks to be doing everything in his power to stand in the way of allowing a new round of elections.

Even in a healthy democracy like France, such voter cynicism risks becoming a factor in final results. Still, come Sunday night, there will be a new French president who no doubt understands that there is hard work ahead.

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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