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Modern politics has a partisanship problem – but it’s not what you think – The Globe and Mail

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Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump at the NATO leaders summit in Watford, Britain December 4, 2019. We often complain about politicians who fail to put country before party, but we fail to recognize the risks of propelling those to office who have never been required to put party before self.

Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Scott Reid is a political analyst and principal at Feschuk.Reid, and served as director of communications to prime minister Paul Martin.

The problem with politics these days is the alarming absence of party loyalty.

That might come as a shock to those who view the creep of overt partisanship with despair. But lost in that analysis is the fact that party ties don’t just bind partisans together, they help to strap down our entire political system – an essential, cohering function that is increasingly under duress. In fact, the erosion of party loyalty risks causing severe damage to our democratic traditions and speeding us even faster down a road where elected leaders recognize little obligation toward the political machines that deliver them into office, and therefore respect increasingly fewer constraints on their own exercise of power.

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If left unchecked, this trend will inevitably produce more leaders of a certain sort: self-indulgent, isolated and even despotic in their tendencies.

The United States, not surprisingly, is the most immediate example of this concern.

Two of the candidates most likely to emerge as the Democratic presidential nominee are running in defiance of, as much as in service to, that party’s history and conventions. Senator Bernie Sanders, who was first elected to office as mayor of Burlington, Vt., by unseating a Democratic incumbent, has sat in Congress for decades as an independent. He has rarely displayed a willingness to suffer the sacrifices and compromises required of those who play the team sport of party politics. His campaign for the presidential nomination today, as it was in 2016, is a takeover bid – plain and simple.

Mike Bloomberg is just as concerning. A former Republican, he operates so solitarily that his only visible contribution to the Democratic Party appears to come from his cheque book. He has barely participated in the nomination process beyond the purchase of advertising, one historically atrocious debate performance and some splendid punking of Mr. Trump on social media.

The Republicans are an even greater catastrophe. The shameless farce of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial was roundly condemned as an example of excessive partisanship. In reality, it was a monumental, even suicidal, betrayal of party unity. Each of those senators placed Mr. Trump’s personal interests ahead of the collective interests of the GOP. In November, these Republicans – who used to argue for fiscal rectitude, smaller government and a robust foreign policy – will stand for election emasculated and inscrutable with no guiding beliefs beyond what they learn from Mr. Trump via Twitter tantrums.

So far, Canada has largely avoided this failing. Justin Trudeau served alongside caucus colleagues for years before becoming leader. The same can be said for Conservatives such as departing leader Andrew Scheer and frontrunners Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole. If anything, Canadian voters have tended to punish seeming carpetbaggers in recent years, such as Michael Ignatieff and Tom Mulcair.

Still, this threat reaches beyond the U.S. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson displays open disdain for the history and conventions of the political party he now leads. His rule has been punctuated by the expulsion of Conservative Party stalwarts and the condemnation of loyalty to any cause beyond that of which he approves. Brexit is a symptom, not a cause, of his leadership style.

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Obviously, independence is not an inherent vice. Free-thinkers are needed within political parties to challenge stale ideas and unleash renewal. What might the 20th century have looked like without the iron example of the party-switching Winston Churchill?

But let’s not be surprised when leaders who lack any sense of project beyond their own self – who live their lives as free agents, and not team players – lack the empathy and perspective necessary to make decisions in the public interest.

We often complain about politicians who fail to put country before party. Yet we fail to recognize the risks of propelling those to office who have never been required to put party before self. Those who concede to the discipline of party loyalty and who occasionally quiet their own voice in service to a wider chorus, develop certain skills and accumulate certain lessons.

It just might be that these same skills and lessons help to teach our leaders that the advancement of one’s own agenda is not always the only thing that matters. Such education might come in awfully handy when, having been rewarded with power, we hope that these same leaders might govern within some fence-line of norms other than their own personal satisfaction.

Healthy and effective political parties produce better political leaders. And by teaching leaders the value of loyalty beyond themselves, even when that manifests as partisanship, our political parties serve a vital public service that is needed now more than ever.​

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CNN Poll: Most Americans are concerned about the US and 'burned out' on politics – CNN

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(CNN)Americans across political lines are united in their generally negative feelings about the US and its politics, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS, with Democrats particularly unlikely to express political enthusiasm.

Just 14% of Americans say they’re either excited (4%) or optimistic (10%) about the way things are going in the country, with 65% calling themselves concerned and another 21% saying they’re scared. Only about one-quarter, 23%, call themselves “fired up” about politics, with 53% describing themselves as burned out. And roughly one-third, 32%, say they feel their side is currently losing more than winning in politics, with just 9% feeling that they’re mostly on the winning side.
Democrats are modestly more positive than Republicans on the state of the country: 19% of Democrats describe themselves as optimistic or excited, compared with only 9% of Republicans who say the same. But Democrats are less likely to feel fired up than Republicans (25% vs. 33%) and more likely to say their side is losing (43% vs. 31%).
There are ideological divides as well, with liberals 16 percentage points likelier than conservatives to say they’re mostly losing and 10 points likelier to described themselves as burnt out by politics. And fears for the state of the country also correspond to political engagement: 33% of those who are scared about the US describe themselves as fired up about politics. By contrast, just 19% of those who say they’re concerned also describe themselves as fired up, and that number is just 13% who say they’re optimistic.
The economy continues to be at the forefront of most Americans’ minds. A 59% majority say economic issues are the most important issue to the country, compared with 30% who are more concerned with domestic and social issues, 3% who are most focused on foreign policy, and 7% saying another issue is their top concern.
While economic concerns dominate across party lines, they’re most pronounced within the GOP. Three-quarters of Republicans say that economic issues are the most important, compared to a more modest 54% among independents and 50% among Democrats. Significant minorities of Democrats (43%) and independents (30%) are more focused on social or domestic issues, while just 19% of Republicans say the same. There’s an ideological divide here as well: Among conservatives, 70% say economic issues are most important and just 21% say that social and domestic issues are; among liberals, a narrow majority call social and domestic issues their top concern (51%) with 41% choosing economic issues. Few across party or ideological lines care most about foreign policy.
Among the full public, the survey finds, Republicans hold a narrow edge in trust to handle the types of issues Americans say they care most about. By a 5-point margin, 35% to 30%, Americans say they trust the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party to handle such issues. More than one-third, 35%, trust neither party.
Those who prioritize economic issues — a heavily Republican-leaning bloc — give the GOP a 24-point lead, 46% to 22%, to handle those issues. Those who prioritize social and domestic issues — a bloc of mostly Democratic-aligned Americans — favor the Democratic Party by a 30-point margin, 49% to 19%.
Around 8 in 10 partisans on both sides trust their own party, while two-thirds of independents say they don’t have faith in either party to handle the country’s biggest issues.
The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS on May 12 and 13 among a random national sample of 1,000 adults surveyed by text message after being recruited using probability-based methods. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It is larger for subgroups.

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In defense of office politics – Smartbrief

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(Image credit: Pexels)

“Office politics” often gets a bad rap. It’s thought of as the domain of catty gossip, shady backroom deals or sycophantic compliments reminiscent of the movies “Office Space” or “9 to 5.”

Thankfully, in real-life, office politics is often much tamer — and also unavoidable for anyone with the ambition to advance.

Why? Because, at its core, office politics is about relationships with colleagues and decision-makers. And nurturing those relationships can go a long way toward advancing your career goals.

What is office politics?

While politics is often derided as purely a popularity contest, there are actually two components — being popular and getting things done.

Let’s think about “real” politics for a moment. You can be very good at getting things done, but if you’re unpopular, you’re not going to be elected in the first place. On the other hand, if you get elected because you’re popular, but fail to accomplish anything, you’ll probably find yourself voted out in the next election.

In office politics, exactly as in “real” politics, you can often get small things done without the support of others. But the more impactful your goals, the more you need to get other people on board to make them happen.

Liked + Trusted + Respected = Influence

To have influence, colleagues need to like you, trust you and respect you.

If you’re not liked, well, that’s pretty much curtains for influencing decisions, unless you’re already the boss. It’s worth noting that to be liked, you must first be known.

If you’re liked, but not respected, you might be involved the discussion, but your view won’t carry any weight. We could call this “Charlie Brown syndrome” after the classic Peanuts character.

If you’re respected but not trusted (think of a well-qualified politician whose agenda you dislike), you may be consulted on an issue but colleagues may have misgivings about your motives.

To influence behavior and decisions in the office requires all three. Liked + Trusted + Respected = Influence.

Can office politics drive value?

Everything we do at CareerPoint is based on our philosophy that career success is driven by the value you create for your employer.

We talk about value creation by referencing eight drivers of value. You could think of these as the atomic elements of employee value. It’s a framework you could use to analyze almost anything in relation to HR or career advancement. Why? Because anything that affects your value as an employee influences both the success of your career and the success of your company.

What we know as “office politics” touches on several of these value drivers, but let’s focus on just two: Relationships and positioning.

Nurturing relationships

Of all the categories of relationships that drive value for a company, none are more significant than customer relationships. If customers like, respect and trust you, they are more likely to highly value your services, keep buying them and recommend them to others. They’re also likely to be patient with you when things go awry, as things inevitably do.

The value of customer relationships can be tremendous and long-lasting. In a law firm, a single relationship can be worth tens of millions of dollars. Relationships are so important that when a partner moves from one firm to another, they often take the relationships with them. In fact, it’s hard to think of an industry where good customer relationships can’t move the dial on company success.

This means good customer relationships are a source of influence for employees. If customers highly regard you, the business won’t want to lose you and ought to value your opinion. If, on the other hand, no customer would notice or care if you left, your influence on decisions and events will be more limited.

Positioning yourself for advancement

The value driver most closely aligned with office politics is the one we’ve named Positioning. It’s all about navigating office politics to position yourself for advancement. After all, you could be the hardest working and most valuable employee in the business but fail to secure advancement if you don’t understand the politics.

The best way to think about this is to imagine a meeting of your company’s management team. Your potential promotion is being discussed. What do you want everyone to say and do?

Obviously, you want everyone to say that you are the best choice for the role. But will they?

There’s nothing you can do at this moment. It’s too late to influence any further.

In some ways, the discussion is a culmination of everything you’ve said and done since you’ve joined the company. The decision will be made largely on how the participants feel about you and the idea of you in a new, more influential role.

This is no idle abstraction. This is exactly how most advancement decisions are made. If you want to advance, the advocacy of every person around the table is what you’re solving for in the game of office politics.

5 tips for becoming an effective office politician

Here are five quick tips you can use to help build trust, respect and likeability in your workplace.

  1. Get involved with projects and initiatives outside of your team and department whenever possible. This will help you begin to widen your network.
  2. Avoid overusing email with new connections. It’s impossible to establish a relationship over email. Use the phone or arrange a quick Zoom/Teams/Webex meeting.
  3. Aim to impress every single new person you work with, both inside and outside the organization. First impressions count and impressing people is often easier than you think.  Just be reliable, responsive and helpful. Do things faster or better than they expect.
  4. You don’t build influence by being a weathervane who simply goes along with everything, but you don’t build influence by opposing everything, either. The middle course is to articulate your position clearly, call the pros and cons as you see them, accept that others will see it differently and get on board with decisions you don’t agree with.
  5. Do favors for people when it helps them without expecting anything in return. If you are generous by nature, you will build a network of influence and appreciation, and you’ll be seen as a team player. This network will help you get things done down the line.

Remember, no matter how much you hate it, office politics is a part of office life we all have to contend with. Instead of avoiding it, put your best foot forward, take smart risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.


To find out how CareerPoint can help you and your team navigate office politics and create the win/win relationships you need to succeed, visit CareerPoint’s website today.

Originally from the west coast of Scotland, Steve McIntosh is a recovering accountant (ICAEW), HR professional (GPHR) and MBA (University of Oxford). After starting his career with global accounting firm KPMG in 1998, Steve founded offshore financial services recruitment firm CML in 2004, which he led as CEO for 16 years.

In 2020, he founded CareerPoint.com, the virtual coaching platform that helps companies and their people get ahead of the curve. With customers and coaches in more than 30 countries around the world, CareerPoint is well on its way to achieving its twofold mission to help a million young people advance in their careers and level the playing field for underrepresented groups.

McIntosh is a “zealous convert” to the value of HR as a driver of business value and the author of “The Employee Value Curve: the unifying theory of HR and career advancement helping companies and their people succeed together.“

If you liked this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free email newsletters on HR and leadership. They’re among SmartBrief’s more than 250 industry-focused newsletters.

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Czechc Republic: President grants 103 citizens permission to join the Ukrainian military

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Prague, Czech Republic- As the war between Ukraine and Russia rages on, the Czech Republic has now become the latest country to offer military support to Ukraine.

According to the Czech Republic Presidency, President Milos Zeman has granted 103 citizens a special exemption, allowing them to join the Ukrainian military.

Some 400 volunteers had applied for a waiver with the goal of fighting for Ukraine against Russia.

The country requires special permission signed by the President and the Prime Minister to serve in a foreign military force. Otherwise, they face prosecution at home and potentially a five-year prison term.

In addition, the Defense Ministry then reviews each case individually in cooperation with the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry before forwarding the paperwork to the President’s Office for approval.

At the same time, the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a US$39.8 billion package of military and other assistance to Ukraine.

“Ukrainian people are fighting the fight for their democracy, and in doing so, for ours as well. With this aid package, America sends a resounding message to the world of our unwavering determination to stand with the courageous people of Ukraine until victory is won,” said House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

The package is expected to provide US$6 billion for weaponry, intelligence support, training and other defence assistance to Ukrainian forces, as well as US$8.7 billion to replenish American equipment sent to the country. It will also allocate US$3.9 billion for European Command operations, including intelligence support and hardship pay for troops in the region.

In addition, Legislation also set aside US$13.9 billion for the State Department, with the bulk going toward the Economic Support Fund to help Ukraine’s government continue to function, another US$4.4 billion for emergency food assistance in Ukraine and around the world as well as US$900 million to assist Ukrainian refugees, including housing, English language, trauma and support services.

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