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Mandy Patinkin: How I became political — and why you should too – CNN

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When we were first dating, my wife, Kathryn, asked me what political party my parents belonged to. I paused. “The sisterhood and men’s club?” I replied, referring to the groups at their synagogue. I don’t recall them ever voting, though it’s certainly possible they did: a rote practice, absent strong conviction.
They were the children of immigrants, who had fled their homelands seeking better opportunity for their family. The United States was to them what it has strived to be for millions of people since its founding: a safe haven for people fleeing violence, tyranny and persecution, a place where one could find belonging regardless of creed, color or profession. To them, being here was blessing enough.
So, I considered myself apolitical. I didn’t see it as particularly relevant or important to engage with the mess of politics. Until I fell in love.
My wife has been my north star in so many ways. She is always right, with very few exceptions — mostly relating to the inner workings of our appliances (and even there she’s rapidly gaining knowledge and is on track to outpace me by 2022).
Early on, when Kathryn and her friends would talk politics, I would politely listen and consider it something of an intellectual indulgence. Then, one day, her friend Martin Sheen turned and asked my opinion. I responded with my typical line, “Oh, I’m not really political.” Martin smiled and replied, “Do you breathe?”
He and Kathryn, and others like them, gently and patiently illuminated for me how every decision we make, every privilege we hold, every hardship we encounter, every service we partake in, every person we meet — literally everything we do is political.
This realization is what has given my life meaning. Everything I do, I try to do in consideration of its impact and aim toward a greater good (with the possible exception of my dozens of hours researching the best refrigerators. That I do for me). So, when people tell me to “stay out of politics,” I can only think, “but that’s impossible.”
Love, not hate, forged my political consciousness. And when I look at this political moment, when I see the divisive, mean-spirited, hateful rhetoric that appears to be driving our politics, I can grow despondent. It can feel as though we’ve lost our way.
But when I look instead to the politics of everyday people, the way Kathryn and Martin and so many others taught me, I see something else. Amid a pandemic that has cost over 217,000 American lives, amid unbelievable economic hardship, and after nearly four years of increasingly partisan politics, I still see people caring for one another.
I see people fighting for one another — caretakers and first responders tending to the sick, young people leading the march for the future of our planet, and people of every race, creed and age fighting for equality and racial justice. I see more people than ever becoming politically engaged. And I can think of no greater form of optimism.
America has a flawed foundation. From the beginning, the words that formed this government were more aspirational than the actions of even the authors. It has only been through the incredible will of people fighting for what’s right that we have inched closer to our ultimate ideals.
Somehow, through every misguided or shameful choice in our history, those most marginalized and oppressed have led the way toward progress. That takes an incredible amount of optimism, and I have no doubt they did it not just for themselves, but for those they loved — and for the generations that were to follow them.
I can understand why people might want to steer clear of politics right now, to suggest, “I’m not political,” and leave it at that. But to succumb to despair or exhaustion is to give up on the American project at the precise moment that it matters most. Something that gives me great hope is knowing that some of our most common ground as Americans is a shared desire to move away from such divided politics.
That’s why I’m doing everything I can to get out the vote, and why, with a fundamental optimism, I’m supporting Joe Biden.
If you’re conservative, you probably think Biden is too liberal. If you’re liberal, you might think he’s too conservative. That’s the nature of these political divides. No matter what, if Biden is elected, it will be up to us as citizens to hold him accountable to enact the changes we believe are needed.
With Biden, I believe we can do that. While he may not be the perfect candidate — and he’d likely be the first to admit that — he is a decent man who wants to be of service to the public, unlike Donald Trump, who appears to want the public to be of service to him.
Biden is not a radical socialist. He’s not dangerously conservative. You must know this. If anything, he plays to the center. That may not be exciting or enough for either side, but I think for now that’s what we deserve — so that we all may have some hope of meeting in the middle, too.
If you agree, then I ask you to get involved for these final weeks and work toward making make sure that we do not let hate and division triumph. Kathryn and I have been married for 40 years. You can imagine how often we’ve disagreed. What’s kept us together hasn’t been fighting — it’s been listening, learning from one another and having faith and optimism that we could get through anything together.
Now is the moment for us all to do the same: if we’re going to fall in love with one another again, as Americans, then this is the time to show up, to commit and to make the right choice for our future.

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Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – The Battlefords News-Optimist

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OTTAWA — Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

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“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2020.

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Vote to review Liberals response to COVID-19 highlights showdown between politics and science – National Post

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Article content continued

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

And nothing could be further from the truth

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

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Students learn provincial politics in mock vote at Saskatchewan schools – Global News

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They are too young to vote in Monday’s provincial election, but Saskatchewan elementary and high school students have learned how to cast a ballot when the time comes.

A total of 420 schools across all 61 provincial ridings took part in Student Vote Saskatchewan 2020 ahead of election day on Oct. 26.

Non-partisan Canadian charity, CIVIX, provides teachers with the necessary materials for its civic education program, which has been running since 2003.

“The purpose of our project is to get engaged now, so that when they turn 18, we hope that they not only vote then, but that they will always vote,” said Dan Allan, CIVIX director of content.

Read more:
Ridings to watch in the 2020 Saskatchewan election

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Grade 12 student Brenna Metz said before the program, her class did not know much about who was running for election in their local riding.

“Realizing we need to be informed when making these decisions because they are really big decisions about our lives,” Metz said, adding her biggest takeaway was learning how the provincial government relates to important issues.

“I know mental health was a huge thing that we discussed in our classes because it definitely affects everyone in the school and for many students it is a large problem in Saskatchewan.”

After learning the ins and outs of provincial politics, students from as early as Grade 4 cast mock ballots on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were offered the option of online voting. CIVIX noted, however, the majority still chose to use paper ballots with added precautions.

Teacher Lyle Morley said classes at Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School in Regina voted at their desks using paper ballots sealed in envelopes — akin to mail-in ballots.

Read more:
Next Saskatchewan government will have to juggle budget, pandemic economy

“In past years we’d have them bring ID and go to the library and vote like you would usually vote,” Morley said, adding students are looking forward to seeing the provincewide results.

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“They want to know what the schools did and they’re definitely interested to see who won,” he said.

CIVIX will release the final student vote results, broken down by riding and school, on election night Monday at 8 p.m. CT.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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