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Gwich'in Tribal Council grand chief turns away from politics, toward family – CBC.ca

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Grand Chief Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan of the Gwich’in Tribal Council says she has decided not to seek re-election so she can spend more time with her family. 

“It came down to the demand of my time, and although we say family is always first, there were times where I had to miss out on my daughter’s school events and special occasions,” she says.

The family came to the decision together last summer, says Greenland-Morgan. 

Elected in 2016, Greenland-Morgan served one term as grand chief of the organization that protects and promotes the rights and interests of the Gwich’in people and their land. The election for a new grand chief and deputy grand chief is scheduled for Sept. 3. 

The “unnecessary drama and dysfunction” of politics also influenced Greenland-Morgan’s decision not to run again, she said.

“[There are] so many different views and values among the different people and different agendas,” she says. “It’s crucial for leadership to focus on one agenda and that agenda should always be for the best interest and benefit of all Gwich’in (all four communities) and not just one over the other.”

Greenland-Morgan says she’s pleased with what her team accomplished over the last four years.

For example, she says, there was the January release of the mineral development strategy in the Gwich’in Settlement Area — the first of its kind for the Gwich’in Tribal Council. 

“Looking at the objectives of our land claim, and being environmental stewards, and being in support of responsible development, it’s very important to have a strategy in place,” she says. 

Struggles for government contracts

But her term hasn’t been without challenges. 

Most notable, says Greenland-Morgan, are federal procurement policies that see work for projects within the Gwich’in Settlement Area put out to public tender.

“We strongly believe that when there’s opportunities and projects within our Gwich’in Settlement Area, that those procurement processes need to change to honour that,” she says. “If we have the capacity and the capabilities to do work in our region, then we don’t believe that we need to go to public tender.” 

Neither Deputy Grand Chief Jordan Peterson nor Greenland-Morgan are seeking re-election. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Grand Chief George Mackenzie of the Tłı̨chǫ Government voiced the same complaint last week after a contract for road work on Tłı̨chǫ land was put out for public bidding. He said the procurement process disrespected the Tłı̨chǫ land claim and self-government agreement. 

The Gwich’in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement was signed in 1992, so by now, says Greenland-Morgan, Gwich’in people should be seeing some of those direct benefits. 

“That’s the main reason why these [procurement] processes need to be overhauled, because in a lot of cases it’s not working.”

The high turnover among members of her team has also been an obstacle, she says. 

We strongly believe that when there’s opportunities and projects within our Gwich’in Settlement Area, that those procurement processes need to change to honour that.– Bobbie Jo Greenland-Morgan, Gwich’in Tribal Council grand chief

To her successor, Greenland-Morgan urges putting the healing and well-being of people first.

“Like every other Indigenous group across this country, we have the intergenerational trauma of residential school and a lot of other things that have happened in the history of our country … and there’s a lot of healing needed yet,” she says. 

“The more progress we make with our people to revitalize who we come from, revitalize that power in the people, the more we heal as a nation — it’s going to make things easier across the board. I really believe that.”

Urges voters to cast ballot

Born at the hospital in Inuvik and raised in Aklavik, N.W.T., Greenland-Morgan was previously an administrative assistant to the principal at the Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, a hamlet councillor, and executive assistant to former premier Floyd Roland.

“She was definitely dedicated to the people, even when she worked with me, she was always informed of the folks up there and what was happening,” said Roland.

As for what’s next, Greenland-Morgan says she hasn’t made any commitments. For now, she’ll spend more time with her family and her aging parents. 

But before she does that, Greenland-Morgan is urging eligible voters to cast a ballot in the upcoming election.

“We do have a lot of solid candidates,” she says. “As you look at what they have to offer, it makes me hopeful.”

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Analysis | How to reverse the politics of coronavirus vaccines, as demonstrated by Fox News – The Washington Post

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One underrecognized aspect of American politics is that most of the people who voted for Donald Trump last year live in states that cast more votes for Joe Biden. At a county level, that’s not true; most Trump voters live in counties that voted for Trump. But not by much: About 45 percent of Trump voters live in counties that preferred Biden.

Why? Well, because a lot of people live in big cities, and big cities are often heavily Democratic. While 55 percent of Republicans live in counties that voted for Trump, 55 percent also live in the 300-odd places that are the most heavily populated 10 percent of counties in the United States. (More than three-quarters of Democrats live in those counties; as a corollary, about 73 percent of Democrats live in counties won by Biden.)

The point is straightforward: Places with more people have more people. This is not what one would call a staggering insight, but it’s worth reiterating since people tend to think of heavily populated places as overwhelmingly Democratic. In fact, the most populous counties in the country are less robustly Democratic than the least populous ones are Republican. The 623 least populous counties preferred Trump by 46 points. The 623 most populous counties preferred Biden by less than one-third of that margin.

(The chart below looks at deciles of counties; that is, one-tenth of all counties, ranked from the least to the most populous.)

Why are we going over this? Because of the attempt by Fox News’s Jesse Watters to suggest that, of the current surge in coronavirus infections,
“all of the hot spots are in huge Democrat cities.”

He said this on Friday, even as he (thankfully) encouraged getting more people vaccinated. But he did so while clearly attempting to cast blame for the surge on Democrats — trying to reverse the recent emphasis on the surge of infections in heavily Republican areas, since those places are less likely to be heavily vaccinated. In a statement provided to Mediaite, he tried to defend the claim.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s categorization of places with substantial rates of transmission “applies to nearly every major metropolitan area in the United States … Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, St. Louis, etc. … according to the ‘hot spot’ county map highlighted on the CDC website,” the statement said. “Plus, anyone with common sense understands that 3.5M unvaccinated New York residents living within 300 square miles of each other, is more of a so-called ‘hot spot,’ than just 388,000 unvaccinated Wyoming residents living within 98,000 square miles of each other.”

This is pretty lazy stuff, even for Watters. He first cites the CDC’s definition, pointing out that applies to big cities — though without pointing out that it also applies to hundreds of small counties. Then he throws out the CDC’s definition of a hot spot in favor of his own, in which he begs the question by declaring a hot spot to depend on population density.

So let’s look at the actual numbers, shall we?

There is, in fact, a relationship between the average number of new cases in a county and the county population, according to counties for which we have data. Los Angeles County has seen a lot of new cases in the past two weeks (which is the time period indicated on the graph below), but it also has millions of residents.

But the CDC, not new to this, is familiar with how population works. So it defines community transmission relative to population. It uses two metrics — the rate of cases per 100,000 residents and the rate of positive tests — to determine the places with “substantial” or “high” transmission.

If we plot population against the rate of cases per 100,000 residents, the picture shifts. In the least-populated decile of counties, 69 percent have transmission rates above the median. In the most-populated decile, 54 percent do.

We can look at this another way. Over the past two weeks, most new cases have been in the most populous places for the same reason that so many Trump voters live in Biden counties. Adjusted for population, though, the hardest-hit places shift to the middle of the pack.

If Los Angeles was seeing the same rate of infections as the hardest-hit small county — Sullivan County, Mo. — it would be seeing ten times the number of new cases each day.

It’s true, as Watters points out, that more unvaccinated people live in blue states, since those states have more people. But as of two weeks ago, more unvaccinated adults lived in red states even though those states have fewer adult residents. This issue of vaccination is entirely the point, of course, with places that have lower rates of vaccination seeing more new cases per resident.

The vaccination data, compiled by the CDC, are imperfect, but you can clearly see the pattern below. More than a third of the country lives in the 2,300-odd counties in which more than half the population hasn’t received at least one dose of the vaccine.

What’s particularly alarming is how many seniors have not been fully vaccinated. In more than half of counties, according to the CDC data, fewer than half of those over age 65 have been fully vaccinated.

But this is just running Watters’s playbook in reverse. In the most densely populated counties, home to two-thirds of the population, more than three-quarters of those aged 65 and over have been fully vaccinated.

The risk remains high in places with lower vaccination rates, not just places with more unvaccinated people. Those places are generally places that voted more heavily for Trump in 2020. And the correlation between the two makes sense, given Trump’s — and Fox News’s — rhetoric.

“We have to do away with all the politics and just try to get people vaxxed,” Watters said on Friday. Fine. Let’s.

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Is Kamala Harris Really Bad at Politics? – Bloomberg

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Who was the runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020?

The reason the topic comes up is that opponents of Vice President Kamala Harris seem to have settled on an attack line against her: As a Washington Examiner columnist argued a few weeks ago, she’s “bad at politics.” It’s something that I see pretty often in reader emails and on Twitter, mostly from Republicans but in some cases from liberal Democrats. There’s no surprise here; the vice presidency makes everyone look bad, and the idea that the first Black and Asian-American woman to hold this office is not up to the job is consistent with certain stereotypes. 

It’s also preposterous. Yes, once nominated almost anyone can win a general election, and perhaps every once in a while a nomination is just luck — in fact, I’ve argued that Donald Trump’s first nomination was largely a fluke. But Harris managed to work her way up in local and state politics in California, without money or family connections on her side, winning multiple nominations. That’s the mark of a good politician. So, for that matter, is securing the vice-presidential nod. Using presidential nomination results as evidence of a politician’s weakness is like criticizing someone for failing to medal in the Olympics; just getting into the competition is usually evidence of considerable ability.

Granted, after entering the contest, Harris dropped out before the first vote in Iowa. But whether we should consider her effort a flop gets back to the question I started with: Who was the runner-up to Joe Biden? 

You can make the case for several candidates. Bernie Sanders is the most obvious one, given that he finished second in delegates, states won and overall votes. But there’s reason to think he wasn’t the candidate who came closest. The evidence suggests that a solid majority of Democratic party actors, and perhaps of voters overall, was prepared to support anyone but Sanders. If that’s the case, then he really had only a small chance of winning and I’m not sure it makes sense to call him the runner-up.

If not Sanders, who? Pete Buttigieg at least managed to win an important state — Iowa — and finished second in New Hampshire. But Buttigieg sparked even less enthusiasm among party actors than Sanders did. There’s even a case to be made for Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren. Both had some backing from party actors; both had occasional (albeit small) surges of support among voters. Suppose that their strong debates right before the New Hampshire primary (for Klobuchar) or Nevada (for Warren) had taken place in November or December, in time for them to really capitalize on it? It’s not hard to imagine Klobuchar or Warren, rather than Buttigieg, emerging from the pack in Iowa, and perhaps either senator would’ve been better positioned to take advantage of it.

The counterargument is that none of these candidates had any Black support, and without that they were doomed in South Carolina and in most of the rest of the primaries. We don’t get to rerun the contest to see whether Representative James Clyburn would’ve endorsed whoever looked most viable after the Nevada caucuses. But Harris, despite her early exit, may have been closer to the nomination than she’s usually given credit for. She did enjoy a brief polling surge after a strong early debate, which turned out to be mistimed. And she won some party-actor support. Perhaps there are fewer what-ifs involved in projecting her into the nomination than there are for some of the other also-rans.

You certainly don’t have to buy that argument — I’m not sure I do — to concede that the vice president has some valuable political skills. Mostly, however, I think the question about the runner-up is useful because answering it involves thinking carefully about what really goes into winning presidential nominations, and helps clarify what we really know and what we’re not sure about. 

1. Paul Musgrave on the Olympics and nationalism

2. Kim Yi Dionne and Laura Seay at the Monkey Cage on three new books on Kenya.

3. Good Dan Drezner on the historical and current importance of Fox News.

4. Kevin Drum also on Fox News.

5. Sahil Kapur and Benjy Sarlin with good speculation about Mitch McConnell’s thinking about infrastructure.

6. And Jamelle Bouie on voting-rights history.

Get Early Returns every morning in your inbox. Click here to subscribe. Also subscribe to Bloomberg All Access and get much, much more. You’ll receive our unmatched global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, the Bloomberg Open and the Bloomberg Close.

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Infrastructure Bill Shows That US Politics Are Not (Yet) Broken – Bloomberg

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As President Joe Biden moves toward another legislative victory — namely, the $550 billion infrastructure bill — it’s worth asking what its success says about American politics. Mostly it’s good news, whether or not you agree with the policies of the Biden administration.

The most enduring truth is that the median voter theorem, as social scientists refer to it, continues to explain a lot of political outcomes. In an era supposedly marked by gridlock and polarization, a centrist infrastructure bill is on the verge of passage.

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