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Changing society, changing politics | Comment –



If all goes well, the Greek government should be able to start lifting restrictions on commercial activity and public movement aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus next month. This will allow us to slowly come out of isolation and to get back fundamental liberties like the freedom of movement – on the condition that our actions don’t put lives at risk.

What kind of people, though, will we be when we re-emerge? How different will “coronavirus man” be to the man we left behind after closing ourselves up in our homes, homes that over the weeks have been the setting of sundry transformations? The DiaNEOsis think-tank is expected on Monday to publish the results of a new nationwide survey titled “How Greeks Live During the Pandemic.” The announcement of that report is what inspired the thoughts that follow.

The pandemic resulted in us cultivating certain common traits and habits. We learned how to protect ourselves, how to sanitize, how to maintain safe distances and how to live by the rules. We learned how to trust the state a lot more and feel proud of the praise we’ve received from the international community for our response to the crisis so far. We found ways to cut red tape by demonstrating a surprising acumen for digital tools and electronic governance.

When we come to assess the post-coronavirus period, we will need to weigh our gains against our losses. We will need to strengthen the convergence of disparate political leanings that seems to be transpiring in the face of a common fear of death. Criticism and confrontation, though necessary components of democracy, need to be mindful of the fact that we are in a state of war. In the face of this new global challenge, political differences appear to be waning, but the political system is still responsible for curbing polarization and ensuring that the focus of our national priorities is not lost. And we do not mean the kooks in every party who feed on spreading nonsense on social media.

The day after augers not just social shifts, but political ones too. Strong leaders with quick reflexes, with the ability to own up to their mistakes and weaknesses, with real concern for citizens, and who are able to take their cue from science and the experts so that the unpredictable becomes predictable, are what will earn the trust and support of the citizens.

The new “coronavirus man” is not just being shaped in society, but also in the halls of politics.

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A Thanksgiving Myth Debunked: People Aren’t Fighting About Politics – The New York Times



With millions of Americans choosing not to visit loved ones this Thanksgiving out of caution over the coronavirus, a lot of small rituals will get passed over in the process.

No shared turkey dinners, no football-watching parties in the TV room, no wondering aloud what stuffing is actually made of. And none of those famous, knock-down-drag-out fights with your relatives over politics. Right?

Sort of. Those storied fights might never have been such a big part of the tradition to begin with. Like many aspects of the story that this holiday commemorates, brutal family infighting over politics is more myth than reality.

“I’m Italian, so my family fights about anything and everything,” said Matthew Dean, 34, a construction project manager living in Pittsburgh. “They can agree with each other and still be arguing.”

Mr. Dean is a Republican who supports President Trump, while other members of his family, including his father, dislike the president. He said they’re usually able to disagree without being too disagreeable.

“From an outsider’s perspective, it would be arguing, but it never ruined any family time together,” Mr. Dean said, describing the raucous scene at past Thanksgiving dinners. “I think we have a greater sense of the bonds that hold us together as family and friends. And we don’t allow the politics to get above that.”

Two years ago, a survey by The Associated Press and NORC, an independent research group at the University of Chicago, found that just 9 percent of American parents with adolescent or young-adult children reported having had a holiday gathering ruined by family disagreements over politics. Online, it was a different story: The same parents were twice as likely to say that they had unfriended or blocked a family member for political reasons.

“The vast majority of Americans have no interest in discussing politics,” Samara Klar, a professor of political science at the University of Arizona, said in an interview. “Politics is important when it arises, but for most people it’s not something that they are excited to bring up at dinner.”

For most Americans, politics isn’t anywhere near their favorite conversation topic. Dr. Klar said that while studies have shown that American parents would generally prefer to see their children marry someone of the same political persuasion, her own research went a level further — and found that the even stronger desire was for their children to marry someone who simply won’t force them to discuss politics all that much.

“They just don’t want somebody who talks about politics all the time,” she said. “Partisan identity will always fall dead last,” she added. “Behind their gender, family role, their nationality, their race.”

As a result, if coming together at the holidays means dealing with an outspoken relative of a different political stripe, the most common response may simply be flight — not fight.

A study of Thanksgiving diners in 2016 matched up anonymized smartphone-location data with precinct-level voting information, and found that when relatives visited each other from areas with opposite political leanings, their meals together tended to be measurably shorter.

This tracks with a separate study from 2016, “Political Chameleons: An Exploration of Conformity in Political Discussions,” finding that people would often prefer to avoid talking politics over openly disagreeing about them.

“If you have somebody who’s really vocal politically, they’re going to dominate the discussion,” said Yanna Krupnikov, a Stony Brook University political scientist who has collaborated with Dr. Klar. “You’re not necessarily going to have people fight with them — you’re more likely to have people agree politely and just leave a little early.”

Over the past few decades, as polarization has grown, families have in fact become more politically homogeneous.

Kent Tedin, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, cited research he has done in recent years picking up on data compiled since the 1960s by Kent Jennings at the University of Michigan. It found that married, heterosexual couples are now far more likely to be politically aligned than they were 50 years ago — or even a couple decades ago.

Dr. Klar said that her research has indicated that this trend is driven in part by the fact that, since the feminist movement’s second wave in the mid-20th century, women have grown more directly engaged in politics — and have become more likely to put a priority on finding a husband with whom they agree politically.

The same thing goes for parents and their children. On matters of partisanship and political views — including a measurement that academics call the “racial resentment scale” — young people are far more likely to hold similar views to their parents than they were in the mid-1970s, or even in the 1990s.

As a result, Dr. Tedin said, at the Thanksgiving table, “if there is a disagreement, almost anybody in the nuclear family — mom, dad and the kids — is going to be on one side, and the cousins are going to be on the other side.”

But mostly, they’re likely to tiptoe around one another. “Polarized politics increases avoidance within families,” he said. “You might think polarized politics means they’re going to be fighting at Thanksgiving, but no — it’s the reverse. Polarized politics increases the pressure to avoid conflict at the holiday.”

The inclination to avoid conflict doesn’t necessarily mean that disagreement is inevitable if the conversation does turn to politics. Matthew Levendusky, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who studies political polarization, said that when those kinds of conflicts do come up, they aren’t necessarily likely to become hostile. And whether hard or easy, Dr. Levendusky added, those conversations are fundamental to the functioning of a democracy — especially in a time when social media and cable news often play up each party’s most extreme elements.

In 2016, Dr. Levendusky published a study showing that people tended to vastly overestimate the differences between the two parties. “We asked people where their position was, and where they thought the average Republican and Democratic positions were,” he said. “Basically, they thought the parties were twice as far apart as they are in reality, on a wide variety of issues.”

Now he is at work on a book about how people with differing perspectives might overcome their political animus. Simply talking to one another, he said, is essential to bridging the divide — and it’s often not as painful as people expect it to be. That’s because most Americans are not deeply ideological, so political disagreements are not terribly high-stakes for them. In completing the research for the book, he and his collaborators convened roughly 500 study participants from across the political spectrum, and invited them to talk about politics.

Dr. Levendusky found that participants were pleasantly surprised by the experience: “A number of people came up to me afterward and said, ‘I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, but I found all these people who thought like me, even if we weren’t on the same political side.’”

Still, for many families, the primary goal this holiday is to find anything other than politics to talk about.

Antonette Iverson, 27, said that her extended family in Detroit would be celebrating Thanksgiving remotely this year, saying grace over a Zoom call and then retreating to separate holiday meals. She doesn’t expect anyone would want to talk much about politics even if they were getting together, she said, adding that her family is mostly of a like mind about the presidential election anyway.

“I don’t think there needs to be a discussion,” she said. “We’re all pretty exhausted with the situation.”

Kathleen Gray contributed reporting.

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Can’t Argue Politics at Thanksgiving? Argue About the Food – Bloomberg



This is Bloomberg Opinion Today, a Thanksgiving dinner of Bloomberg Opinion’s opinions. Sign up here.

Today’s Agenda

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Gnaw and order.
Photographer: Evans/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Thought for Food, Thanksgiving Edition

One upside of this year’s downsized Thanksgiving is you’re less likely to get into political arguments with relatives. Better luck next year, Racist Uncle Ned. Unfortunately, this also leaves you with less to discuss at the table. Fortunately, you’ll have some pretty interesting conversation pieces sitting on the plate in front of you. 

For example, did you know there’s a good chance your turkey came from Minnesota, your cranberries from Wisconsin and your sweet potatoes from North Carolina? Justin Fox knows this now, because of researching it, along with many other interesting facts about which political swing states produce the food that will have you “swinging” to the couch for a long nap. 

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And you might think this weird holiday season would be good news for turkeys and bad news for the farms that slaughter them for people to eat. In fact, David Fickling writes, one of the weird ways Americans have coped with coronavirus lockdowns is to re-create Thanksgiving dinners again and again, spending their many spare hours brining, spatchcocking, stuffing and roasting. This pandemic can’t end soon enough, for humans or for turkeys. Also, zombie minks. Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving!

Trump’s Power to Make Mischief

President Donald Trump just can’t seem to help himself. Even with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition now in full swing, and even after Pennsylvania certified Biden as winning its electoral votes, Trump had planned to travel to Gettysburg today with his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to complain more about voter fraud in that state.

Trump bailed on the trip, possibly depriving America of another much-needed Four Seasons Total Landscaping moment. But he’s obviously not ready to leave the stage gracefully. In fact, every move he has made since the election that hasn’t involved either claiming robbery or pardoning turkeys has been to make trouble for Biden and, by extension, the country, writes Tim O’Brien. And he still has two months in which to make mischief. Of course, there is a non-zero chance he’ll simply flee to Mar-a-Lago before his term is up. But even then, Bill Barr and other highly placed loyalists can quietly pour sugar in the gas tank of the government just before handing it off to Biden.

Of the many Chernobyl-sized messes Trump is leaving Biden, the relationship with China is one that hasn’t gotten much attention lately. But maybe it should, considering how these two nuclear-armed countries could someday end up at war. Trump has simply stopped communicating with China, leaving the two sides exchanging only menacing gestures at this point, writes Bloomberg’s editorial board. That won’t end well. Biden doesn’t have to be much less hawkish about China, but he should at least get the two sides talking again. 

Pandemic-Friendly Companies 

As we’ve mentioned a bunch in this newsletter, weird pandemic habits such as our whole-turkey craze have been an unexpected windfall to many lucky companies. One of these is Deere, notes Brooke Sutherland, which makes the tractors that produce the food that we have spent many extra hours preparing and eating. And the prospect of slightly warmer relations with China under Biden make the future look even brighter for Deere, raising the potential for more food demand, more farming and more tractors.

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Tech companies — and Deere’s modern space-age tractors almost make it one of those — have also thrived in the pandemic as we all shop and surf and binge on our couches. The payment company Stripe has been one beneficiary, so much so that it’s raising new private funding at what could be a $100 billion valuation, which has more than doubled since just April, writes Alex Webb. But with great valuation comes greater expectations and pressures. 

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RIP, Maradona

Argentine football diety Diego Maradona died. Bobby Ghosh makes the case Maradona was the greatest player of all time, better than Ronaldo or Messi because he had to do everything basically alone. He was Jordan without a Pippen. He had many incredible goals, but his best may have been the one that sealed England’s fate in the 1986 World Cup. Here’s how that play-by-play translates into English:

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Telltale Charts

Many African economies, which are increasingly dominated by tech companies, have also thrived in this pandemic, writes Matthew Winkler. It doesn’t hurt that these countries have handled the virus relatively well. 

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Further Reading

Why not do an Operation Warp Speed for green energy? Because that’s far more complicated than vaccines. — Tyler Cowen 

France and Germany say different things about the U.S. relationship but have similar goals: more European self-sufficiency. — Andreas Kluth 

It’s clear Biden will need new tactics to remove Nicolas Maduro from power, including possibly cutting a deal. — Mac Margolis 


Trump pardoned Michael Flynn.

Amazon is starting to experience shipping delays.

New Jersey’s $5 billion mall needs a Black Friday miracle

Kominers’s Conundrums Hint

If you can’t figure out how to unscramble the answer letters in our country music Conundrum, don’t forget to look to Dolly Parton for a bit of help. You might find there’s less unscrambling to be done than sorting.

And if you’re still having trouble figuring out that Garth Brooks song, it’s possible you’ve got the wrong Aesop’s fox fable. We were thinking of this one, rather than this one. — Scott Duke Kominers


A laser fusion reactor is nearing a “burning plasma” moment.

An amateur astronomer may have found the source of the “Wow!” signal.

Brussels sprouts really used to be nastier than they are today

Some Thanksgiving tips from a professional chef.

Note: There will be no newsletter on Thursday or Friday.

Please send Brussels sprouts and complaints to Mark Gongloff at

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    This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Mark Gongloff at

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Brooke Sample at

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    A break from politics | The Blade – Toledo Blade









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