The United States is a political ground of polarizing chaos that often feels like watching a circus performance. And certainly not an elegant Cirque du Soleil show, but an exhausting display of ideological gymnastics that is insufferable to watch.
After five minutes of the candidates shouting over each other in the initial presidential debate, one might deduce that an official from the Serie B football league would be more effective than the moderator (no disrespect to Italian footballers).
It’s clear that the imaginary lines separating politics and sports have all but disintegrated. Donald Trump has invoked the importance of sport during his time in office, rebuking athletes who have kneeled during the anthem to support campaigns against anti-Blackness and police brutality.
Athletes and electoral mobilization have always been connected in the American political scene; women’s suffrage in the U.S. has been affected by sports and women.
Historically, athletes in the margins have been outspoken. Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali wadded into the complex world of political commentary. Following their examples, more and more athletes have spoken up and spoken out.
Athlete activism in the political sphere has taken a central role in this U.S. election, and women are starting at centre court.
WNBA players have been incredibly vocal about league-wide initiatives on racial justice, LGBTIQ rights, and pay equity.
Players have been actively supporting the candidate running in this election against Atlanta Dream co-owner, Kelly Loeffler, a Republican Senator from Georgia and an ardent supporter of Trump. In a declaration of political support, many WNBA players mobilized against Loeffler and wore T-shirts supporting her opponent, Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Dr. Amira Rose Davis, assistant professor of History, African American Studies, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University and co-host of the Burn It All Down podcast, has called this “unprecedented.”
In an interview with Sports Illustrated Dr. Davis remarked: “Certainly you had times where individual athletes or what seems like a considerable amount of athletes from a certain team or a certain league being in political alliance, but I think what we’re seeing with the WNBA and Kelly Loeffler is very different because it has been very coordinated and it’s been strategic.”
The WNBA also released a video encouraging eligible voters to get educated and get involved at every level of elections: local, state and federal. WNBA.com has information for election information and civic engagement on their website.
There are athletes who have gone on record to state they would not engage in the political process. In 2016, tennis legend Serena Williams declared she would not be voting for Trump or “anyone else” including his then-opponent Hillary Clinton. Although Williams has advocated for Black women’s maternal health, racial justice, and pay equity, she admits she does not vote. Williams cited her religion as the main reason – she is Jehovah’s Witness.
But 2020 US Open winner and Nike athlete Naomi Osaka was recently featured in a video alongside LeBron James available on Nike’s website.
In September, while Osaka was on her way to claiming her second US Open title, she wore seven different masks recognizing the victims of violent racism. The day that she won the tournament, she wore a face mask with the name of Tamir Rice on it. Rice was 12 years old when he was shot and killed by police in 2014. Her views on politics and policy are not divorced from her competition.
There are many examples of women in sports being active in areas of politics – particularly now. The rise of female athletes to the political forefront has not only been in endorsing candidates, but also supporting voter registration and political participation.
U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe has been actively encouraging Americans to get involved in the political discourse. Over the summer, Rapinoe created an HBO special about politics called ‘Seeing America with Megan Rapinoe.’
“I’m trying to break it down for people and make it a little more relatable and then get people energized in the civic process, and getting involved in just being more active in their communities, also for themselves,” she told comedian Jimmy Fallon.
Making politics “cool” is definitely one way to encourage youth and first-time voters to get out and cast their ballots. Preliminary reports of voter turnout data shows that first- time voters are at high despite allegations of intentional barriers created to render the process needlessly complicated.
Twenty-year-old Olympic gold-medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez voted as soon as she was eligible. The 19th Amendment was passed 100 years ago and permitted women to vote. But Black women and minority women (such as those from Latinx communities) were not until the Voting Rights Acts defeated Jim Crow law that continued to discriminate against racialized and ethnic Americans.
Hernandez is aware of the history and feels compelled to act.
“For women, and especially women of colour, we didn’t have the right [to vote] in the first place,” she said. “We had to fight for it.”
American tennis legend Billie Jean King has been tweeting about the importance of voting. A longtime advocate of political participation, King has been so explicit as to remind voters to remember the names of Black victims George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as they cast their decisions.
There is a plethora of ways to get involved in the political process, and in civic and community engagement. Los Angeles Sparks player Chiney Ogwumike publicly announced last week that she will be working the polls in her hometown of Houston on election day.
Female athletes sharing information on social media, encouraging education and mobilization, is a testament to their influence as leaders on and off the playing field. As athletes continue their roles as ambassadors of sport, and as full participants in the citizenry, the ebb and flows of politics in the U.S. will only lessen the spaces in which female athletes don’t power forward in their passion and politicking.
Shireen Ahmed is a writer, TEDx Speaker, and award-winning sports activist who focuses on Muslim women, and the intersections of racism and misogyny in sports. She is co-creator and co-host of the “Burn It All Down” feminist sports podcast. She lives in the Greater Toronto Area with her children and her cat.
Paul Quassa quits Nunavut legislature after 40 years in politics – CBC.ca
Nunavut Speaker Paul Quassa has resigned from his role as MLA for Aggu.
The news was first reported by Nunatsiaq News. Quassa confirmed his resignation to the CBC and said he is done with politics. He said he’s been thinking about the decision since the spring.
“I really cherish the time that I spent [in] my life here at the Legislative Assembly,” Quassa said.
“I knew that I could do at least two terms. And once … that term is up, I think it’s high time that we see somebody else there. And I have great confidence in in the next person that’s going to be elected.”
Quassa was elected as the Nunavut premier in 2017, but was ousted in 2018, though he continued in his role as MLA for Aggu.
He said he stayed on because he made a commitment to represent his community.
“No matter what happens, you just continue, keep going because you were elected … you’re representing your community. You cannot just stop there just because the other MLAs don’t agree with you,” he said.
His resignation, which will be effective as of Aug. 13, comes just shy of the end of his term, with Nunavut’s general upcoming election scheduled for Oct. 25.
Quassa said he wanted to give others the chance to be in leadership, and in particular, he encouraged young people to step forward and consider the opportunity of running for MLA.
“I thought this would be the right timing after talking with my family and my constituents, that it would be only right for me to step down and give other opportunities,” he said.
“I believe that our young people should really go for it, because again, we have to remember that at least 60 per cent of our population is under 25. So, you know, that’s a big population to represent. And I think it is high time that we start getting new ideas, new challenges, and then young people can make that difference.”
Though he didn’t say specifically what he plans to do next, Quassa hinted it might be something in the public sphere.
“I’m looking forward to do something else where I can speak my mind on behalf of Inuit and Nunavut,” he said.
N.W.T. Métis activist remembered as unfiltered politician, caring friend – CBC.ca
A leading figure in the Northwest Territories Métis community has died.
Clem Paul passed away on July 30. He was 64.
During his entire adult life, Paul was a champion of Métis rights in the Northwest Territories, specifically in the North Slave region. He is a former president of the old Yellowknife Métis Council and one of the founding leaders and a former president of the North Slave Métis Alliance, which was formed when three Métis groups in the North Slave region merged.
Trevor Teed was a friend of Paul’s since they were Grade 1 students in Yellowknife.
“Quite often in life you’ll hear somebody say in times of trouble, ‘I sure wish I had a friend to lean on’ or ‘I sure wish I had a shoulder to cry on’ — something like that,” said Teed. “That’s an experience I have never felt … because I always had a friend, Clem. He was always there for me.”
In 1991 Paul was awarded the Governor General’s medal of bravery for hauling Teed out of the frigid waters of Harding Lake. Teed and another man, who perished in the accident, had gone through the ice on their snowmobile. Paul used his gun case to paddle his sled out across 30 meters of open water, pulled Teed in, and paddled back to solid ice.
Teed said Paul was someone who spoke his mind, regardless of the effect his words had on those they were directed at.
“Clem was involved in politics but he wasn’t really a politician because he was point blank,” said Teed. “He often told people things they did not want to hear. If you were working with Clem on a project he was engaged in and weren’t putting in the effort he thought was warranted, he’d let you know about it.”
Taking time for strangers
Paul’s softer side was evident one of the first times I met him. On a paddling trip about 20 years ago, I stopped into an area on Great Slave Lake known as Old Fort Rae or Mountain Island, once a thriving community. My paddling partner and I were surprised to find a group of men building cabins there in the sweltering August heat.
They were led by Paul. He stopped his work and explained to us that they were revitalizing the community to re-establish it as a base for Métis in the region. Paul then told us about the history of the place, how it was an ideal location for a settlement because you could dock on either side of the peninsula, depending on which way the wind was blowing.
Paul spent the next hour giving us a tour of the remnants of the community and talking about the history of Métis in the area. He showed us where those who lived in the community were buried and talked about his plans for the place. He was obviously very busy, but took the time to show around two strangers.
Youngest certified journeyman welder in N.W.T.
Alongside his political activities, Paul initiated several high-profile court cases aimed at asserting and protecting Métis rights in the region, but his sister, Kathy Paul-Drover, said he was also very much a working man.
When he was 18, she said, he became the youngest person in the N.W.T. to be certified as a journeyman welder. He helped found Paul Brothers Welding, a longstanding Yellowknife business.
Paul-Drover said her brother got his work ethic and strong-willed nature from their mother, the late Theresa Paul.
One of Clem’s first political experiences was seeing his mother fight off an attempt by the City of Yellowknife to evict their family and others in a small Métis community that had settled in the School Draw Avenue area. The attempt happened in the mid-60s, shortly after Yellowknife was named the capital of the N.W.T.
“We had a fairly big Métis community here in the School Draw and she was the only one that maintained title to her land,” said Paul-Drover of her mother.
A difficult year
Paul-Drover said the past year has been difficult for her brother. He had fought off an earlier bout of cancer, but it returned.
“He was in and out of hospital for months, and with all of the restrictions with COVID he wasn’t able to see his grandchildren or children,” said Paul-Drover. “That was very difficult for him. That’s why he and his wife decided he should go home from the hospital despite not being able to take food or water. He was home for two days and he passed.”
A service will be held at the Yellowknife River on Thursday starting at 2 p.m. with a final viewing held shortly before. The gathering will then move to Lakeview Cemetery for the burial. Then it will return to the Yellowknife River for a celebration of life.
How politics is tearing families apart | Cupp – Chicago Sun-Times
The year was 2004, and a month after Barack Obama would make his national debut at the Democratic National Convention, another Democrat made news — at the Republican National Convention in New York City.
Georgia Democrat Zell Miller — a former governor who won with the help of longtime Democratic adviser James Carville, who had addressed the 1992 DNC waxing nostalgic for FDR, Truman, Kennedy and Carter, who endorsed Bill Clinton and opposed George H.W. Bush — was now standing at the podium at the Republican National Convention, about to endorse George W. Bush.
“Since I last stood in this spot, a whole new generation of the Miller family has been born,” he said. “They are my and Shirley’s most precious possessions.”
As he explained it, “My family is more important than my party.”
It was a powerful moment, and one that seems nearly impossible to imagine today, when bitter partisanship and party loyalty threatens to supersede our not only our commitment to our country, but to our families.
Nowhere is this corrosive effect more acute than inside right-wing politics, where loyalty to party and, more specifically, to Donald Trump, have managed to corrupt so many important democratic institutions — our elections, for one — but worse, institutions as fundamental as the family, what Pope John XXIII called “the first essential cell of human society.”
Under the presidency and post-presidency of Donald Trump, families have found themselves more divided, disaffected, even estranged, in some startling — and in some cases, very public — ways.
This weekend, three siblings of Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar penned a pointed op-ed at NBCnews.com slamming their brother for a history of political abominations, from birtherism to anti-Semitism, and from downplaying COVID-19 to inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. They got personal.
“Maybe your lifelong, insecure need for the approval of others caused you to sacrifice your common decency and integrity to satisfy Trump and his followers in order to keep your seat,” they wrote.
They’ve long been publicly critical of their brother, even pushing for his expulsion from Congress.
Gosar has previously responded to their laments without much affection, telling CNN in 2018, “These disgruntled Hillary supporters are related by blood to me but like leftists everywhere, they put political ideology before family. Lenin, Mao and Kim Jung Un (sic) would be proud.”
The Gosars are hardly alone.
The Conways, matriarch and former Trump adviser Kellyanne, patriarch and Never-Trumper George, and teenage anti-Trump activist and “American Idol” contestant Claudia have been embroiled in a very public, hard-to-watch family conflict for the past two years. Recently Claudia has said her relationship with her parents has improved, thankfully.
Planning for the Gaetz-Luckey wedding might be difficult, as the future sister-in-law of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has taken to social media to slam his “weird and creepy” behavior with women in the wake of allegations of sex crimes. Gaetz’s fiancée has clapped back, “My estranged sister is mentally unwell.”
What once might have been kept behind closed doors is now being aired out for all to see, perhaps even in the hopes that public shaming will have some kind of behavior-changing effect.
But more tragic than these public figures’ public spats are the stories of average American families devastated by politics, conspiracy theories, and extremism. They’re not hard to find.
One NPR report recounts a sub-Reddit group called “Q Casualties,” made up of users who could no longer communicate with their QAnon family members — people like “Tyler,” who was despondent when he learned his dad had gone to the Capitol on Jan. 6 with loaded guns in his camper.
In another story, a woman going by “Caroline” told an Iowa news outlet that she was “married to a QAnon believer and lived in fear.” “QAnon has destroyed my life,” she said. “I live with someone who hates me.”
There’s the story of Rosanne Boyland, whose family was worried by her increasingly conspiratorial political ideas. She was one of five people who died at the Capitol insurrection, effectively giving her life for a false cause despite, according to her family, never even voting before 2020.
COVID-19 has brought another kind of political estrangement — over masking and vaxxing. There’s the story of two Chicago sisters whose mother stopped speaking to them after they defied her wishes not to get vaccinated.
There are countless more stories of families torn apart by politics in the last few years — by the politics of Trump, the cults of conspiracy groups like QAnon, the extremism of groups like the Proud Boys and The Oath Keepers, and the new politics of masks and vaccines.
What these destructive elements have done to divide our country and turn American against American is well-documented and horrific. But even worse is what it has done, and is still doing, to our families, isolating us further and further from the things that matter most. If we don’t correct this soon, we’re in for a very dark and lonely future.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.
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