Monday. 3/2/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

Iowa’s raucous caucus

The Iowa caucuses take place later today and, as well as being the official curtain-raiser for the 2020 US presidential election cycle, they remain an electoral curiosity. At 19:00 local time tonight, voters will gather in town halls, school gymnasiums and even living rooms right across this vast, sparsely populated Midwestern state to choose their preferred candidate to take on Donald Trump in November's election. It’s a joyously simple and unfussy process. And although the results tonight won’t be binding, they are important for a campaign’s momentum, particularly when the field of candidates is as large and as diverse as it is this time around.

“This is a heavy, complicated knot of a moment for Democrats,” Sally Kohn, an author, activist and left-leaning political commentator, tells me, on the phone from New York. “It's a fight within fights – between a more status quo-oriented, corporate Democrat mentality and the more progressive, transformative wing. It's an existential conversation, in many ways.” This year's caucuses are different for another reason, too. Several candidates, including New York's former mayor Michael Bloomberg, have effectively eschewed campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, in favour of the states which vote later on in the primary cycle. That means that tonight’s results might not be as clear-cut as they first appear. “Bloomberg is going to remain a factor, going into Super Tuesday,” says the political commentator Linda Chavez, who served as an official under Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W Bush. “And he is, in fact, climbing in the polls. I think Donald Trump's supporters will be very happy to see Bernie Sanders come out on top, because they think he’s probably the easiest to beat. I’m not sure they’re right about that. But we’ll see what happens.”

If Sanders does win in Iowa later, as recent opinion polls suggest, but more centrist candidates take the second, third and even fourth spots, it may lead many Democratic primary voters elsewhere to conclude that a majority capable of beating Trump does in fact lie in the centre ground, and not on the party’s outer ideological flank. Whatever happens tonight, it really is just the beginning.

Geopolitics / France

Duty visit

French president Emmanuel Macron is set to make his first state visit to Poland today. Macron previously snubbed Poland on a trip to eastern Europe in 2017, shortly after his inauguration. Its leaders in the Law and Justice party (PiS) were, he said, citing the party’s attacks on the judiciary, insular and undemocratic. Evidently, times change and his mission today and tomorrow is to re-establish diplomatic and economic ties. With Brexit now “done”, Macron’s visit suggests the French leader is re-evaluating the balance of power on the continent. “He is clearly concerned about the rise of far-right populism,” says Dr Philippe Marlière, professor of French and European politics at University College London. He says that Macron’s ambitions to take the lead in Europe mean that, “This is simply realpolitik. He’s being a realist, he has to talk to everyone, including governments he doesn’t feel close to.”

Business / UK & China

Network of influence

It’s perhaps the first major test of the UK’s willingness to set its own course: last week, London agreed to let Chinese technology giant Huawei remain involved (with some restrictions) in building its 5G networks. What’s notable is that the decision was made almost simultaneously – but separately – from Brussels, where the European Commission gave the green light for its own member states to use Huawei if they so wish (EU member states can still decide independently and some, including Germany, are seriously considering their options). But the UK’s decision might actually have a bigger impact in Canada, which has been caught in the US-China crossfire more than any other nation. Prime minister Justin Trudeau has delayed his own decision on Huawei but the UK’s move could allow him to follow suit without appearing to bow to Chinese pressure. If that happens, expect an unhappy president Trump. The US’s two closest allies might need each other if they want to shake off the US administration’s demands going forward.

Architecture / USA

End of an era

The School of Architecture at Taliesin will shut in June, nearly 90 years after Frank Lloyd Wright founded the one-of-a-kind architecture school where students lived and learned inside Wright’s residences: Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona. Last week, the school announced that it had failed to reach an agreement with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which owns both properties, that would allow it to continue. Previously known as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, the school was forced to split from the foundation and achieve financial independence in 2017 to maintain its status as an accredited architecture programme. The school, according to the foundation, has since struggled to find a sustainable business model to carry it forward, and while they’ve both discussed finding an alternative education model not requiring accreditation, it wasn’t possible. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation will continue to carry on Wright’s immeasurable legacy, but the end of Taliesin’s architecture school is a significant loss to the educational side of the discipline.

Arts / Netherlands

Dutch treat

From this Wednesday the industrial port city of Rotterdam will play host to creatives of all stripes from around the world as part of its annual Art Rotterdam week, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. On top of its renowned video-installation section, one of the highlights to look out for in Van Nellefabriek, its magnificent 1920s constructivist venue, is Suriname-born Remy Jungerman and his De Stijl-esque geometric works (pictured). Elsewhere in the city, Object Rotterdam will be displaying contemporary design from furniture to jewellery, while a new hub for performance art has been added at Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout’s avant-garde Foundation AVL Mundo.

M24 / Eureka

Goodee

Fashion industry veterans Byron and Dexter Peart tell Monocle about their latest venture: Goodee. Founded in 2019, Goodee is an online marketplace that sells well-designed, ethically made products.

Monocle Films / Culture

The secret to buying a painting

Alexander Gilkes, co-founder of online auction house Paddle8, unveils the alchemy that surrounds the world of collecting art.

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