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Donald Trump Is Attacking Politics Itself

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Nathan Howard / Getty
After a caravan of Donald Trump’s supporters descended on Portland, Oregon, this weekend, aching to grapple, he praised them as “great patriots.” In cheering them on, Trump is pointing them, and others like them, toward a specific target. What he seeks to eliminate is politics itself.

Politics is such a ubiquitous term in the English language, such a seemingly fixed part of American life, that its existence is assumed and its definition rarely considered. Our concept of politics, descended from antiquity, is that society can peaceably settle its differences of opinion and interests. For politics to properly play its becalming role, citizens must agree on rules. Discussion, persuasion, and a willingness to accept temporary defeat are the political means by which a society adjudicates its inevitable conflicts. When a society discards politics, violence assumes its place. This threat is already evident in the deaths of two people protesting a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and that of a member of a right-wing group in Portland. Another president would make a show of easing tensions, but Trump deliberately escalates them.

Since Donald Trump first announced his presidential bid in 2015, he has promised to dispense with politics. At first, this promise seemed banal in its familiarity—so it initially struck many voters and journalists as more benign than it should have. Generations of rich men running for office, after all, had promised to replace the values of politics with the ethos of business. Besides, the art of the deal is what every great parliamentary leader claims to practice.

But over the course of his presidency—or perhaps from the moment he explicitly shunned the principle of compromise and declared, “I alone can fix it”—Trump has abundantly shown that he means his anti-political rhetoric. And as he stands for reelection, his strategy for victory amounts more and more to the subversion of politics.

Although he goes through the motions of pursuing an outright victory, much of his rhetoric is now focused on discrediting the political process itself. He disparages the rules that govern politics and the institutions that facilitate it. He seems to want his supporters to believe that their electoral participation will be rendered meaningless. Trump’s argument goes like this: Because their views will be censored by Facebook and Twitter, his followers won’t have access to the most important modern forums for persuasion and mobilization. (This argument played a starring role at the Republican convention.) On Election Day, their votes will be negated by fraud on a massive scale, in the form of mail-in voting. Because the probability of an unfair election is so high, the president declines to say that he will accept the outcome of the vote.

In the past, groups that have felt disenfranchised have turned to protest, a peaceful attempt to persuade well-meaning elites or beneficent institutions to expand democracy. But in the Trumpian worldview, those elites and institutions are conspiring against him. By delegitimizing the American political system, he has given his followers the impression that they have no choice but to assert themselves through nonpolitical means.

Throughout his presidency, he has offered his winking approval to supporters who have relied on menace and weaponry. He couldn’t bring himself to disavow the tiki-torch mob in Charlottesville, and he paid obeisance to the people in camouflage who invaded the Michigan statehouse to protest stay-at-home orders. At his recent convention, he allocated prime time to the armed couple from St. Louis. So when he tweeted his approval of the caravan that wended its way through Portland, armed with paintball guns and pepper spray, it was the logical culmination of his argument—and a likely prelude to the months to come.

Trump is hardly alone in his turn away from politics—which is part of what makes this moment so terrifyingly volatile. However marginal their numbers, anarchists seem intent on magnifying their presence by fomenting mayhem. Among a smattering of intellectuals on the left, looting is accepted as an appropriate form of political speech. But Trump is heir to a more establishment strain of anti-politics. Rather than accepting the rules of the game, his party has used parliamentary gimmickry to achieve its most important ends. It derailed the nomination of a Supreme Court justice in order to protect a conservative majority, and it has sought to maintain power through gerrymandering.

Trump is the continuation of this tradition, even as he has pushed it forward to a dangerous new place. During the Gingrich era, Republicans flirted with making common cause with militias, but ultimately backed away. Today, Fox News hosts, conservative intelligentsia, and even the president himself portray the armed citizen as America’s best hope of staving off an enemy horde.

In 1962, the British political theorist Bernard Crick wrote an invigorating manifesto called In Defense of Politics. A social democrat who would later become George Orwell’s biographer, Crick waxed lyrical about the civilizing virtues of politics, which forced humans to transcend their most destructive impulses. American democracy is far from experiencing politics in such an ennobling form, but it’s very close to realizing the catastrophic consequences of its collapse. Donald Trump may believe that his denigration of politics is his best chance at staying in the public building whose grounds he festooned with his campaign logo during his acceptance speech last week. But if his supporters truly come to believe that the game is rigged, that persuasion is impossible, then his argument acquires a dark and inevitable logic. When politics ceases to function, when the rules governing its practice have been dismissed as a hoax, all that remains is the barrel of the gun.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

Franklin Foer is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of World Without Mind and How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization.

Source: – The Atlantic

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Kuwait's New Emir Takes Over an Economy Paralyzed by Politics – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Kuwait’s new leader, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, 83, will take the reins of one of the world’s wealthiest countries as it faces a financial crisis made worse by internal political wrangling.

Sheikh Nawaf succeeds his half brother, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who died on Tuesday at the age of 91. Sheikh Nawaf, the crown prince since 2006, had been serving as acting head of state since July, when the emir was flown to the U.S. for medical treatment.

The new leader comes to power at a time when Kuwait is facing the highest budget deficit in its history, brought on by the drop in oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic. A potential solution to its brewing liquidity crisis has been blocked by parliamentary opposition to a law that would allow the government to borrow, as other Gulf nations have done in response to the dual crisis.

While Kuwait’s oil and foreign policy is unlikely to change, its domestic political landscape could be redrawn under the new leadership, particularly if Sheikh Nawaf makes a bid for national reconciliation. Such an initiative could help unblock Kuwait’s gridlocked politics and restore some balance among the different branches of the ruling family.

Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf where nationals have a genuine say in how they’re governed, but the resulting political paralysis means it’s been left behind by less democratic neighbors like the United Arabic Emirates. The emir appoints the prime minister and political parties are banned, so there’s no coherent opposition. The elected parliament is often filled with populist independents who butt heads with governments they accuse of being too soft on corruption.

Opposition Meetings

Sheikh Nawaf has split from his predecessor in meeting with two of Kuwait’s veteran opposition politicians, Ahmed Khateeb and Ahmed Al-Saadoun, amid calls to allow the return of self-exiled opposition leaders. The new leader also recently received proposals for political and economic reforms from two opposition politicians. The meetings came ahead of crucial parliamentary elections later this year.

The opposition has boycotted parliamentary polls since December 2012, when the electoral law was amended at the order of the former emir. The boycott followed one of the biggest opposition rallies in the nation’s history, as critics called for the government to share more power with elected politicians.

The opposition claimed at the time that the changes to voting rules were aimed at reducing its chances of winning and made it easier for candidates to buy votes. The government said the amendments were intended to ensure stability and boost democracy.

According to the constitution, the crown prince ascends to power upon an emir’s death. That would leave Sheikh Nawaf with the duty of appointing a new crown prince, which he has one year to do. The new emir needs the endorsement of parliament for his crown prince nominee. In theory, parliament could reject the emir’s choice, forcing him to submit three fresh nominees for the house to vote on.

Sheikh Nawaf, born in Kuwait on June 25, 1937, is the sixth son of Kuwait’s tenth ruler, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah. He was first appointed to the cabinet in 1978 as interior minister, and thereafter held the defense and social affairs portfolios. Sheikh Nawaf has also served as deputy chief of the national guard. He was educated in Kuwait and is married with four sons and one daughter.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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16 MLAs retiring from BC politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

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As a number of provincial politicians have bowed out of running for re-election ahead of Oct. 24, a national tax reform advocacy group is highlighting the cost of political retirement– to the tune of $20 million – with taxpayers footing the bill.

“While we thank these retiring politicians for their work, taxpayers need to know the huge cost of these gold-plated pensions,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“These pensions simply aren’t affordable for taxpayers. MLAs need to reform their pension plan.”

According to the government, MLA pensions are calculated by taking the highest earning years of the retiring MLAs and factoring in their years of work. The annual pension payments are capped at 70 per cent of the highest earning years.

That means that for every $1 the politicians contribute to their own pension plans, taxpayers pay $4, Sims said.

“It’s time to end these rich pension schemes,” said Sims, adding that MLAs not seeking re-election are allowed to collect the equivalent of their salaries for up to 15 months while they look for new jobs, and they get up to $9,000 if they need skills training.

The federation calculated the expected pensions for 16 retiring MLAs, and determined that former house speaker and BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid is expected to collect the highest per-year amount, roughly $107,000 annually when she turns 65 years old.

Reid, who represented the Richmond South Centre since 1991, is the longest-serving woman in B.C.’s government history.

Other estimated pension totals for MLAs include:

  • Tracy Redies, B.C. Liberal MLA – ineligible due to less than six years in office.
  • Claire Trevena, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Shane Simpson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Scott Fraser, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $80,000 per year, $1.9 million lifetime.
  • Carole James, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $82,000 per year, $2 million lifetime.
  • Michelle Mungall, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Judy Darcy, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $37,000 per year, $647,000 lifetime.
  • Doug Donaldson, NDP cabinet minister – estimated $58,000 per year, $1.4 million lifetime.
  • Rich Coleman, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $109,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.
  • John Yap, former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – estimated $65,000 per year, $1.5 million lifetime
  • Darryl Plecas, Independent Speaker – estimated $38,000 per year, $714,000 lifetime.
  • Andrew Weaver, former Green Party Leader – estimated $31,000 per year, $764,000 lifetime.
  • Donna Barnett, B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $46,000 per year, $400,000 lifetime.
  • Linda Larson – B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $29,000 per year, $469,000 lifetime.
  • Ralph Sultan, former B.C. Liberal MLA – estimated $74,000 per year.
  • Linda Reid, former B.C. Liberal Speaker – estimated $107,000 per year, $2.6 million lifetime.

Source: – Victoria News

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The Only "Black Issue" In American Politics Is Opposition to Racial Inequality

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We’re about a month away from the November Elections.

One of the voting blocs that could decide the presidential race this year is the African American vote. Both candidates have talked quite a bit about what a vote for them would mean for Black Americans. But both of them have mischaracterized African American political views and loyalties in recent months.

The existence of the Black electoral monolith is evidence of a critical defect not in Black America, but in the American practice of democracy.” — Theodore Johnson, Brennan Center for Justice

That’s nothing new, writes Theodore Johnson in the New York Times. He joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today and says that Americans have viewed Black voters as a monolith without really taking the time to understand the diversity of political thoughts and views that exists among Black voters.

Listen: Theodore Johnson on the African American vote that could decide the 2020 election.


Excerpt

Theodore Johnson is a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Johnson writes, “An enduring unity at the ballot box is not confirmation that Black voters hold the same views on every contested issue, but rather that they hold the same view on the one most consequential issue: racial equality. The existence of the Black electoral monolith is evidence of a critical defect not in Black America, but in the American practice of democracy. That defect is the space our two-party system makes for racial intolerance and the appetite our electoral politics has for the exploitation of racial polarization — to which the electoral solidarity of Black voters is an immune response.”

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Source:- WDET

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