A retrospective of some of 2023’s most prominent political news

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The year 2023 was replete with numerous political moments and events that stood out. From the Republican primary and the political toll of overseas conflicts to another consequential Supreme Court decision and Capitol Hill drama, the following is a retrospective of some of them.

The GOP primary commences.

During the initial Republican primary presidential debate in August, the following candidates were seen from left: former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Due to his status as a quasi-incumbent, former President Donald Trump maintains a significant lead. Candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence, have come and gone. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is placing all of his wagers on Iowa, where the election process will begin in less than three weeks.

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, acquired momentum toward the end of the year and is optimistic that she can surpass Trump in New Hampshire in particular. The Republican candidates have spent a total of $240 million on television advertisements, the majority of which has been spent in the two major early-nominating states.

A retrospective of some of 2023's most prominent political news
A retrospective of some of 2023’s most prominent political news

 

Former President Trump becomes the first to confront criminal charges.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office has provided this booking photo of former President Donald Trump on August 24, after he surrendered and was lodged at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. Fani Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, accuses Trump of attempting to thwart the will of Georgia electors in order to prevent Joe Biden from being elected president.

By attempting to annul the 2020 election, Trump is charged with 91 federal and state criminal offenses, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and engaging in a criminal enterprise; he has also been accused of willfully retaining national defense information in the form of classified documents he failed to return.

Despite this, Trump’s campaign is making every effort to dismiss and postpone the trials until after the 2024 presidential election, and the Republican primary will likely be decided well in advance of any verdicts in his trials.

The Kevin McCarthy saga

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., engage in conversation while the House chamber votes on a motion to adjourn following the fourteenth vote for speaker on January 6. The House is convened for its fourth day to elect a speaker and assemble the 118th Congress.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, is restrained on January 6 at the Capitol following an altercation with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., during the fourteenth round of voting for speaker.

The California congressman commenced the year by making concessions in order to secure the speakership; this ultimately resulted in his downfall by the end of the year. With a tenure of merely nine months, he became the first House speaker in U.S. history to be removed from office.

A new speaker, Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, was sworn in after the extreme right of the party rejected multiple other candidates. On October 25, outside the office of Representative Mike Johnson, R-La., at the United States Capitol, a “Speaker of the House” sign is observed. Legislative activity was paralyzed for three weeks during a contentious succession struggle that was resolved with his election as speaker.

Conflicts concerning Israel and Ukraine

On September 21, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, exited the Old Senate Chamber subsequent to a closed-door meeting at the United States Capitol. Zelenskyy advocated for increased financial support to aid in the nation’s conflict with Russia.

The Ukrainian people continue to be firmly established while attempting to thwart Russia’s nearly two-year endeavor to conquer the former Soviet bloc nation. This has been possible due to the financial support and weapons supplied by Western allies. Although President Biden has pledged additional financing, Republicans are becoming weary of the additional expenditures.

The bloody response from Israel in response to Hamas’ murder spree and abductions of Israelis on October 7 has caused division among Americans. Biden must monitor his left flank, as the likelihood that younger Americans and voters of color will support maintaining a firm stance with Israel, a longstanding U.S. ally, is diminishing.

President Biden is greeted with an embrace by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he arrives at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv on October 18, amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

A retrospective of some of 2023's most prominent political news

Biden declares his candidacy for re-election.

On April 25th, President Biden declared his intention to “complete the job” by seeking re-election in 2024. In April, President Biden declared his intention to seek re-election, notwithstanding his lackluster poll performance and the widely held belief among many Americans that he is past his prime.

As 2020 approaches, the nation is accelerating toward a rematch between Biden and Trump, both of whom are approaching or at least 80 years old and unpopular. Eleven months prior to a reelection bid, Biden has the lowest approval rating of any president since Harry Truman. Further, Trump is not well-liked. It very well could portend an unpleasant 2024.

George Santos was expelled

On May 10, Representative George Santos (R-New York) addresses the press as he departs the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. Santos was accused of a variety of criminal activities in a damning report released by the House Ethics Committee in November. Among the allegations was the misappropriation of campaign funds for personal items, such as luxury purchases and Botox treatments.

The United States Congress expelled the international man of mystery on December 1. Since the Civil War, only three members of Congress have been removed from office; he is the first to do so without having previously been convicted of a felony.

An arraignment of criminal offenses against Santos is scheduled for the following year. In the interim, New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez is also charged with acting as an Egyptian foreign agent; some members of his own party have demanded that he resign.

The Supreme Court strikes down affirmative action.

On July 1, advocates for affirmative action carried signs during a demonstration at Harvard University. For the second year running, the conservative-leaning Supreme Court issued a contentious and significant decision. In 2022, it was the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and stripped away the guaranteed right to an abortion.

That continued to reverberate in politics, helping Democrats win off-year elections in Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. In 2023, it was an affirmative action ruling that effectively ended race-conscious admission programs at colleges and universities. The decision, which reversed decades of precedent, means colleges and universities can no longer consider race as one of many factors in admissions.

The age at which legislators

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., reaches out to help Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., after McConnell froze and stopped talking at the microphones during a news conference after a lunch meeting with Senate Republicans in July.

Biden has faced persistent questions about his age, but there are also lots of octogenarians serving in Congress. The 81-year-old Republican Senate Minority Leader from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, froze during a press conference, underscoring that in the halls of Congress. It highlighted the advanced age of many in Congress and had many asking, How old is too old to serve in public office?

A retrospective of some of 2023's most prominent political news

The loss of prominent women in politics

With her husband by her side and Dianne Feinstein’s daughter Katherine, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lays across Feinstein’s casket at City Hall on Oct. 4 in San Francisco. This year saw the deaths of former first lady Rosalynn Carter, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Carter and her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, were married longer than any other presidential couple in history—77 years. She was a noted mental health advocate and became known for her charitable work after leaving the White House.

O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and faced steep obstacles in getting there. Despite being a top student at Stanford Law in the 1950s, she struggled to find a job, eventually taking an unpaid position to work in a local district attorney’s office, where she proved herself.

Feinstein was California’s first female senator, authored the 1994 assault weapons ban and, as the first woman to chair the Senate Intelligence Committee, defied two presidents when she forced the release of her committee’s investigation into torture used against terror suspects.


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