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Hello,

It’s been an eventful 24 hours in American politics, to say the least.

Yesterday, Georgia residents went to the polls for a runoff election for the state’s two seats in the U.S. Senate. The Democrats won at least one of those seats and appear poised to win the other one, meaning that the party will have a working majority in the chamber. That means U.S. president-elect Joe Biden will have an easier time getting his appointments approved.

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One such nomination is for his attorney-general. Mr. Biden is expected to name Merrick Garland for that post. The federal appeals court judge had been nominated by Barack Obama in 2016 to sit on the Supreme Court after Antonin Scalia died, but Senate Republicans refused to give him a nomination hearing – illustrating how critical it will be for Mr. Biden’s party to control the Senate.

Today, though, senators who have already been sworn in are debating whether or not to accept the results of the presidential election. Donald Trump, who refuses to concede despite losing by seven million ballots and 74 electoral college votes, was urging his vice-president, Mike Pence, to exercise powers he doesn’t have and somehow overturn the results. Mr. Pence declined to do so.

Mr. Trump is now using one of his final days to stoke the rage of protesters at a Washington rally, some of whom have now stormed the Capitol buildings.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

More than 50 pro-democracy lawmakers and activists have been arrested in Hong Kong under the national-security law put in place by the Chinese government. Observers say this is effectively the end of any real contests in Hong Kong’s elections. “They are beheading the major opposition parties,” Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University, told The Globe.

B.C. nurses say say COVID-19 vaccines are not being distributed quickly enough in the province. Similar calls are being heard across the country, and the issue is expected to be a central part of tomorrow’s first ministers’ meeting between the Prime Minister and the premiers.

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Inmates at some federal prisons will begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine doses on Friday. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole drew ire on Twitter when he opposed the plan.

And Air Canada is paying social-media influencers to promote travel even as governments continue to discourage Canadians from making non-essential trips right now.

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on politicians travelling over the holidays: “There is, it appears, an alternate reality where vacations to Mexico, or Barbados, or Hawaii, or St. Barts, or Switzerland, or Arizona or Las Vegas – or trips to California to sell or maintain second homes, or to Ireland to help a child start school – are unremarkable activities in the brains of politicians during a global pandemic. And I would like a ticket to this place – one where an elected official can apparently understand that thousands of Canadians have died, hundreds of thousands have been sickened, millions of jobs have been lost and innumerable people are suffering in myriad ways, and still decide that the only necessary change to his or her vacation plans should be to pack along an extra bottle of hand sanitizer or two.”

Tasha Kheiriddin (National Post) on the political repercussions: “These ethical failures transcend party lines. They tarnish not just those on the right, but the political class as a whole. They destroy what little trust there is in our elected officials, at a time when that trust is critically important.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on whether American democracy can survive: “We should be precise in describing that culture. The polarization that is destroying American democracy is not between conservatives and liberals. It is not between populists and elites, or even authoritarians and non-authoritarians. It is between fantasy and reality, or perhaps between insanity and sanity: between those who believe, or pretend to, in the most preposterous fictions – the political equivalent of flat earthers – and those whose belief system is limited to the world as it actually is.”

Kevin D. Williamson (National Review) on Trump and the Republican Party: “For my own part, I believe that the Republican Party has been both mutilated and laid bare at the same time. It will be a very long time before it can with a straight face once again call itself the Party of Lincoln, though it may aspire to be that once again. Party of Lincoln? The Republican Party would have to undergo the political equivalent of one of those reality-television makeovers if it wanted to stand so tall as to be the Party of Gerald Ford.”

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John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on why former Ontario premier Mike Harris deserved his appointed to the Order of Ontario: “Former premiers Dalton McGuinty, Bob Rae, David Peterson and Bill Davis are all members of the order, as was the late Frank Miller. To deny the award to Mike Harris and his successor, Ernie Eves, who is also receiving it, would be perverse.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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