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Center for Politics documentary explores political differences among students – University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily



The Center for Politics premiered its 30-minute documentary “Common Grounds” Thursday evening in the Rotunda Dome Room. The film is a culmination of nine months of work by five Center for Politics interns and brings together student leaders from a wide spectrum of political ideologies to discuss their beliefs and work towards understanding one another.

The premiere had both a virtual and in-person option and attendees were required to RSVP. After the showing, in-person attendees enjoyed complimentary hot cider and donuts. About 60 individuals attended the event.

The film began with a video introduction from Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics, who praised the production team for taking the initiative to carry out such a project.

The documentary follows a series of interviews of students from a wide range of political beliefs, from far liberal to staunchly conservative, who were brought together to discuss political questions. The students were selected to represent a diversity of political opinion with the goal of stimulating productive discussion without necessarily forcing any party to compromise on their political beliefs or agree with one another.

The documentary was created to demonstrate the highly tense political environment in which the Charlottesville and University communities are currently entrenched following the wave of political changes in recent years. The film contextualizes the intense political polarization after the election of former president Donald Trump in 2016, the Capitol insurrection in January and the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017. 

“I made the decision to run for president after Charlottesville,” President Joe Biden said in an audio sample featured in the documentary. “Close your eyes and remember what you saw.” 

Many of the students acknowledged the importance of political discourse in regard to events like the “Unite the Right” rally, where unacknowledged hatred and ignorance was permitted to grow into a violent demonstration. A trial filed against the organizers of the rally is currently underway.

The film’s format jumps between private interviews with the individual participants to group discussions as they discuss the extent of freedom of speech, the appropriate pathways to create change and the meaning of political civility. 

The students also explain their connection to politics and the effect of having political ideologies attached to their identity, which some noted causes them to be treated differently by their peers. Students also addressed the concept of “cancel culture” and the idea of “student self-censorship” on Grounds, referring to the sentiment that some students feel uncomfortable expressing their political beliefs for fear of social shaming.

The film also addressed the University’s attachment to founder and former President Thomas Jefferson, quoting University President Jim Ryan who said he would not allow the University to walk away from its connection to the nation’s third president. The University’s connection to Jefferson has become controversial, with some arguing his staunch support of enslavement deem him an unfit figure for the University to endorse, while others have come to Jefferson’s defense.

The film ended with the various students who took part in the collective discussion collectively painting Beta Bridge, writing the message, “THERE IS COMMON GROUND ON OUR GROUNDS #HASHITOUT.”

Following the screening, the group of filmmakers held a panel to discuss the film and its implications on political discourse in a free democracy. The filmmakers — who hold quite varied political beliefs — discussed the challenges of creating such a project without a unitary political agenda behind it.

Molly Hayes, “Common Grounds” filmmaker and third-year Batten student, discussed some of the difficulties of having such a divided production team.

“Our group who made the documentary itself was a project in working across the political divide,” Hayes said. “Making a project about politics with people you very much disagree with is not easy. But ultimately that constant tension … allowed us to make a film as reflective of the interviews we were seeing as possible.” 

Much like the themes the film portrays, the “Common Grounds” filmmaking team came together despite their political differences to highlight what they believe is an underlying commonality among people. Raed Gilliam, another filmmaker and fourth-year College student, explained why the group began this project.

“We are part of the same university … we’re all going through the same struggle,” Gilliam said. “This is something that takes us out of the lull of COVID, it takes us out of that lull of the very tense political discourse.” 

The panel discussion then moved onto the topic of online political discourse, and the culture of rage and hostility that has arisen out of it. Sean Piwowar, filmmaker and fourth-year College student, explained what he believes is the best way to address political discord and the rampant vitriol within political discourse on social media.

“It comes down to sitting in a room with people and talking to them,” Piwowar said. “It wasn’t a debate, no one was hoping to win, and that’s what changed it.” 

Closing out the discussion, panel members reflected on what they’ve discovered in the nine months they made this documentary. Providing her biggest lesson, Miranda Hirts, filmmaker and third-year College student, explained the importance of branching out.

“It’s very important to interact with people,” Hirts said. “It’s really important to break out of your circle and hear other viewpoints.”

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For Now, Post-Roe Politics Are Unknowable – Bloomberg



Important Note: We’re retiring this newsletter in favor of a new feature on that allows readers to sign up for emails of my latest columns. I’ll still be writing them every morning, but you’ll only receive them in your inbox if you hit the blue link under my name here — click to the page, then click on “Follow+” to sign up.

By many accounts, the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is likely to abolish the constitutional right to abortion, either because the court will constrict the right until it’s meaningless or, more likely, because it will flat-out overturn the controlling cases. I’ll let others weigh in on the practical consequences of such a decision, and on what other rights and precedents may be next on the current court’s agenda. I’ll stick, for now, to some speculation about the electoral fallout.

To begin, I’d agree with political scientist Jonathan Ladd that the effects on public opinion are impossible to predict. Of course, those who feel strongly about this issue will have the expected reactions, but most people don’t care deeply about abortion. My best guess is that whatever people tell pollsters, at least in the short run we shouldn’t expect significant changes in overall public opinion. Most people who aren’t invested in the arguments now will presumably go back to not being invested once the decision falls out of the news cycle.

As far as the 2022 elections are concerned, the conventional wisdom is that those who would be losing in court — abortion-rights supporters — would be more energized, all else equal. How much will that mitigate the energizing effects of policy loss among Republicans after two years of unified Democratic government? My guess is that the plausible answers range from “some” to “just a little.” As far as voting is concerned, most of those who care strongly about abortion are already sorted to the corresponding parties, so I wouldn’t expect much of a short-run shift.

But that doesn’t mean there will be no effects at all. For one thing, abortion is about to become a much more significant policy issue in state and national elections. Yes, candidates have run on the issue up to now, and state legislatures have acted on it. But even though some of the laws that survived court scrutiny did have significant effects, there was always a sense that the campaign talk amounted to shadow-boxing, since there were severe limits on what any politician could actually accomplish. That will change.

There may also be real possibilities for change within each party’s coalition. On the Republican side, it’s possible that we’ll eventually get some demobilization of single-issue party actors — but it’s also possible that continued fighting at the state and national level could energize those voters further. It’s unknown whether overturning other court decisions on social issues, from contraception to marriage and more, will generate the same politics within the party that abortion has.

On the Democratic side, the effects seem easier to predict. Over the past few years, as women have become more central to the party coalition, so have the policy questions they care about. It sure seems like the demise of abortion rights would only accelerate that trend while providing common ground for various different groups of women within the party. (There are plenty of women who strongly oppose abortion rights or are relatively indifferent, but among Democratic party actors there’s a pretty united front, and if anything the court’s decision should solidify that consensus.)

In the long run, we’ll see how decreased access to abortion will shift public views, as people begin to see stories in the media — and examples within their own lives — of the effects of new restrictions. For 50 years, those stories have mostly dropped out of the national conversation. Meanwhile, I don’t see any particular reason to expect an increase in either media stories or personal experiences sympathizing with the other side — we shouldn’t see an increase, for example, in stories about women who regret abortions, but we could see more women harmed from illegal procedures. Over time that might change things significantly, and could have unpredictable effects on voting coalitions and on the parties themselves. But whether that will actually happen? There’s no real way to know.

1. Henry Farrell at the Monkey Cage talks with Mary Sarotte about Putin and Ukraine.

2. Irin Carmon on the Supreme Court and abortion.

3. My Bloomberg Opinion colleague Michael Strain on policy divisions within the Republican Party.

4. Amy Walter on President Joe Biden’s approval ratings.

5. And Ed Kilgore on the Georgia gubernatorial election.

Important Note: We’re retiring this newsletter in favor of a new feature on that allows readers to sign up for emails of my latest columns. I’ll still be writing them every morning, but you’ll only receive them in your inbox if you hit the blue link under my name here — click to the page, then click on “Follow+” to sign up.

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The inflation debate could preview the next big shifts in Canadian politics –



The most interesting battle of the 44th Parliament’s early days has been the recurring back-and-forth between Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre.

This running debate between two of the most prominent figures in Canadian politics maps out some of the fault lines that might define the present and near-future of the national debate.

Once one of Stephen Harper’s most enthusiastically combative lieutenants, Poilievre has spent the past two years cultivating an online following — even playing footsie with some of the Internet’s conspiracy theorists.

This past spring, six months before the fall election, Erin O’Toole decided he didn’t want Poilievre to be the Conservative Party’s spokesperson on fiscal matters and shuffled him to another job. O’Toole’s team insisted it wasn’t a demotion — though it’s not hard to imagine that Poilievre might have been a bit too edgy for the non-threatening and moderate campaign O’Toole ran this fall.

But Poilievre was returned to the position of “shadow finance minister” after O’Toole and the Conservatives stumbled to a disappointing election result in September. Poilievre now seems like something of a spiritual leader for the Conservative side.

Before the election, Poilievre enthusiastically attacked federal spending and the Bank of Canada’s purchase of government bonds. He now points to this fall’s inflation figures as vindication of his arguments. On Twitter, he has adopted the oh-so-clever hashtag of #Justinflation to underline his claim that the prime minister is to blame for recent price increases.

‘Just inflation’ catches on

Poilievre also has taken to using the phrase “just inflation” during question period — barely skirting the rule against using another MP’s proper name — and four other Conservative MPs joined him in doing so in the House on Tuesday.

Inflation has dominated questions from the Conservative side through the first week of the 44th Parliament. So Freeland was prepared when she and Poilievre faced each other directly last Thursday.

After Poilievre needled Freeland for acknowledging that inflation is a “crisis” and challenged her to admit that it’s a “homegrown problem,” Freeland stood and listed off numbers that suggest Canada’s level of inflation is in line with the rest of the G20.

At her next opportunity, Freeland referred Poilievre to the words of a National Post columnist (“The Conservatives may not want to listen to me about inflation, but I suspect they read the National Post”) who wrote that inflation is a “global phenomenon” and also described Poilievre as “charging out of his corner, arms wind-milling.”

Poilievre tried again and Freeland challenged him to tell Canadians that he thinks a pandemic is a time for “austerity.”

In her own way, Freeland is a good match for Poilievre — and each might define something about their respective sides.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, sits beside then-Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland as they take part in the APEC Summit in Manila in 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)


An erudite former journalist, Freeland is one of the key figures of the Trudeau era. She was the Liberal leader’s first star recruit nearly a decade ago, then the woman he chose to put front and centre against Donald Trump, and the deputy prime minister he needed after the bruising campaign of 2019. Now she is the first woman to be put in charge of federal fiscal policy.

Poilievre, who casts himself as a populist fighter, is also a keen student of rhetorical combat. He once said that his approach is based on an understanding of the minutiae of legislation and a mastery of “simple facts.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals — content to drown the proceedings in values statements — have not always shown much interest in trying to win question period. In her own news conferences, Freeland has tended to prefer long and careful explanations.

Freeland pushes back

For those reasons, Freeland’s recent efforts stand out.

After former Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz told CTV on Sunday that inflation in Canada was not caused by federal spending, Freeland waved his words in front of the Conservative benches — and reminded the Official Opposition that Stephen Harper appointed Poloz to preside over the bank.

On Tuesday, she corrected Conservative MP Gerard Deltell on the rate of inflation in Germany and challenged Poilievre to specifically identify which pandemic support program he would have cut.

But as more voices have jumped into the inflation fray, Poilievre has pivoted slightly to focus on the rising cost of housing.

On Monday, Poilievre raised the case of a 27-year-old constituent who couldn’t afford to buy a house and wanted to know why prices had increased so much over the last year. In response, Freeland pointed to the money families would save thanks to the federal government’s push for expanded child care.

Vulnerabilities on both sides

Poilievre came back to note that his constituent wouldn’t be able to start a family until he could afford to buy a house.

There are unanswered questions for both sides here.

Freeland might not be directly responsible for the cost of groceries or the price of a detached home in Southern Ontario, but if neither issue resolves itself, the Liberal Party will have to worry about dealing with a frustrated electorate.

On housing, the Liberal election platform at least included a plan — one that was rated higher than the Conservative offer. But that might not be enough on its own to solve the problem.

The sky-high cost of housing is a significant point of vulnerability for the Liberals. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Poilievre’s hawkish stance on government spending, meanwhile, is undermined by the fact that his party just ran on a platform that promised nearly identical levels of spending. And the one major cut the Conservatives were willing to campaign on — walking away from billions in promised spending on child care — might be impossible to pursue if Ontario joins the federal child care plan.

Regardless, the cost of living and public spending will be some of the most valuable terrain in Canadian politics for the next while.

A fall economic statement is expected this month, with a budget due in the spring. So Poilievre and Freeland are likely to see a lot of each other in the coming weeks and months.

Beyond that, you can use your own imagination.

If O’Toole were to lose his tenuous grip on the Conservative leadership, attention would quickly focus on Poilievre — either as a potential candidate or as a potentially influential figure in deciding who leads the party next.

Whenever Trudeau decides to step aside, Freeland will be foremost in the pool of possible successors.

But we don’t need to get ahead of ourselves. There is already much to confront over the next year. And much might depend on how well Freeland and Poilievre make their respective arguments.

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Austria's Kurz quits party and parliament, stunning national politics – Reuters



Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz gives a statement as he resigns from all political duties, in Vienna, Austria, December 2, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

VIENNA, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Austrian conservative leader Sebastian Kurz, who resigned as chancellor in October after he was placed under investigation on suspicion of corruption, said on Thursday he was quitting politics in a surprise move that leaves a power vacuum in his party.

Kurz has been the dominant figure of his People’s Party and Austrian political life since 2017, when he became party leader and then chancellor, winning a parliamentary election and forming a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party. He told a news conference he was leaving politics altogether.

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Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by John Stonestreet

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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