After a 13-month investigation that yielded millions of documents and hundreds of hours of interviews, Congress called the chief executives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to testify. And they did. In the historic hearing, the tech titans defended their companies against claims that they’re running afoul of antitrust law and using their market power to crush competition, amass data, and drive their own profits.
How do you keep a bill from becoming law if you don’t have a majority in Congress? The answer comes from an 18th-century Dutch word with pirate roots: The filibuster. Though its derivation speaks of Caribbean marauders, its modern application is a political strategy that allows a 41-vote minority in the Senate to block legislation. Created after the U.S constitution was written, it effectively requires a supermajority to get most legislation done – something that’s left the current Democrat-controlled Congress grumbling, but cuts across both parties.
Two years ago in January, the Covid-19 virus made its way to American shores. (Or at least that is when the CDC confirmed the first U.S. case) In many ways, the world was a different place back then. President Trump was still in office. The word “pandemic” hadn’t quite assumed the gravity it would. And phrases like “flatten the curve,” “doomscrolling,” and “you’re on mute” hadn’t yet become so utterly ubiquitous.
It’s been a year of the Biden administration. And for many around the world, the question is simple: Can America still lead like it used to? Many who recall the era after the fall of the Berlin Wall remember Washington as both powerful and ascendant. The world’s only superpower boasted a level of military and economic supremacy seldom seen in the modern day. And that juggernaut was coupled with a clear and abundant desire to influence the global order. Things, in many ways, have changed.