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Opinion | Can the next generation change politics? – The Washington Post

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Joshua Park is a junior studying history at Harvard University.

Many young people lament the broken, polarized politics we stand to inherit. But do we have the courage to change them?

On a Monday morning this summer, feeling the lazy buzz of Washington heat, I showed up early to an event hosted by the Harvard Institute of Politics at the Republican National Committee. I was a tad early, so I sat in the cooled lobby to wait.

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The minutes ticked by, yet no one came. This was new. At other Harvard Institute of Politics events this summer, there was always a healthy gathering of interested undergraduates. A lunch with a senior Biden administration official drew 16 students. A trip to the labor secretary’s office got a dozen.

But as we edged closer to the meeting time, it was apparent that we were not going to match those numbers at the RNC. By 2 p.m., it was just me and one other student.

In fact, there were more panelists than students. Over the next hour, four senior communications directors at the RNC shared their career pathways, talked to us about how their organization was structured and respectfully offered their concerns on the future of U.S. democracy. Like every other event this summer, this one was primarily designed to be educational and informative, not overtly political or partisan. The issue of the empty seats went unmentioned for most of the meeting — until we got up to take a group photo at the end. By then, it was four panelists, a couple of the institute’s organizing staff and me.

The Harvard Institute of Politics is the university’s umbrella organization for all things politics. Its annual Summer in Washington programming invites politicians, diplomats and bureaucrats to meet with Harvard undergraduates who are interning in D.C.

This summer, the question of polarization came up at almost every one of these seminars. When guest speakers discussed the need for both parties to get together and find common ground, students nodded their heads. Everyone, red and blue, agreed that some parts of Congress were not working like they used to. Everyone agreed that talking and sharing experiences with people on the other side was one small but obvious solution.

It turned out this was easier said than done.

As an Australian and someone who first stepped into the United States three years ago for college, I was — and still am — concerned for the health of U.S. democracy. In Australia, the strength of American democracy is often seen as a test of the strength of democratic government around the world. But in recent years, the American union seemed to be fraying.

The summer gave me a chance to go beyond Cambridge, Mass., and explore the capital of the republic firsthand. In this spirit, I went to virtually every event the institute hosted, regardless of political affiliation. After the trip to the RNC, I was curious why my peers had not attended. I was especially curious the very next day when some 10 classmates joined me on a trip to the Democratic National Committee.

So, I asked. One sophomore explained that she believed being in the same room with the other side was a form of endorsement or legitimization. She described how she felt alienated by certain Republican arguments and policies. But she also believed in bipartisanship and hoped that the other side would come to her table more often. It was unfair to expect one side to behave in a certain way, she argued, when the other side was not reciprocating.

I empathized with her perspective, but I couldn’t help but wonder, so what now? Someone needs to disrupt the polarization spiral downward and start rebuilding cross-partisan relationships. Sitting in the same room, listening to the other side respectfully, felt like a small and necessary first step.

This was Harvard’s first Summer in Washington program in three years. In some sense, the summer of 2022 was a political experiment. How would the students react to these events across the partisan spectrum? The results challenged our images of ourselves as open-minded students eager to learn from different perspectives. Despite all our chatter about the need for cross-aisle conversation, when we Harvard students were the ones put to the test, we failed.

These students are future leaders of this country. Many of my friends who interned in Washington this summer expressed interest in a career in politics. They hope to run for office someday. Many of them are also concerned about the direction democracy is heading. They want to play an active role in changing that.

During every panel this summer, from every shade of the political spectrum, the speakers expressed one thing in common. There was a tone of great expectation when they talked about our generation. A sense of potential that we have yet to realize, a trace of hope. The message was clear: We were where the pendulum would swing next.

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Two Liberal MLAs depart New Brunswick politics – New Brunswick | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Two Liberal MLAs are leaving provincial politics.

Daniel Guitard and Denis Landry are trading in their trips to Fredericton for a spot closer to home, as mayors of their prospective municipalities. The two of them have put in three and half decades in provincial politics.

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Landry one of the longest-serving MLAs

Denis Landry is one of the longest serving MLAs left, and the only remaining one to have served under former Liberal premier Frank McKenna.

He was first elected in 1995 and was most recently representing Bathurst East-Nepisiguit-Saint-Isidore.

During his 27 years, he’s been minister of Natural Resource and Human Resource, minister of Justice and Public Safety, and acting minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Over the years, he’s seen many changes, but mostly changing faces, he said in an interview on Nov. 25.

Read more:

N.B. Liberal MLA Denis Landry looks to make jump to municipal politics

“All of the faces I started with are no longer here,” he said. “There are not many young people entering politics.”

Landry was quick to point out it is very difficult for young people, especially women to enter politics. There are many reasons for it, he said, including childcare while they would be in Fredericton.

“It depends what support you have home or what support you can have here,” he said. “But for (a) young person who wants to get involved in politics, men or women, it’s not easy.”

He credited his wife Johanne for playing a key role during his time as a politician, taking care of their children.

Reflecting on the big moments

“I remember one day, 1999, I got home,” he said. “My son was leaving with the car, my youngest son, I said to my wife, where is he going … he’s going to register at UNB. And I said, ‘holy jeez, like those four years, I didn’t (see) them. I mean work, work, work and my reason to be in politics then, is the same today, is to help as many people as I can, but not maybe watching my family as I should have.

There was also that quick trip to jail.

Landry, who described himself as a social activist, spent about two weeks in jail during his time as Justice and Public Safety minister under Frank McKenna.

He was protesting changes to the forestry industry, mainly the introduction of technology that was causing people to lose their jobs.

Read more:

Denis Landry chosen interim leader of New Brunswick Liberal party

“I decided to defend my colleagues and workers at that time,” he said. “The demonstrations were in the woods, sometimes at night time.”

He demonstrated with large groups along the New Brunswick-Quebec border. He said the police did an inquiry and he was identified as a leader of a group.

“Then the RCMP pressed some charges against me,” he said. “Public mischief. I had to go to trial and defend myself and I won.”

Through all it though, including serving under eight different premiers, he has one singular piece of advice:“patience.”

Historical speak of the house

Daniel Guitard was first elected in 2014 and represented Restigouche-Chaluer.

He’s served as deputy government whip during his first term, and as the speaker of the house during the first minority government since 1920.

It’s one of his favorite moments of his time in the legislative assembly.

“When I was a speaker (there were) no questions. It was historical because it was the first minority government in 100 years.”

He said he was grateful for how all the parties agreed to give him the wiggle room to learn on the fly.

“We proved over those two years that we could make it work,” he said on Nov. 25.

Guitard said there are different ways to make changes, and certain things went his way.

Read more:

Stage set for showdown in New Brunswick’s closely divided legislature

“At the end of the day, you have to adopt a strategy that fits your personality,” he said. “Stay within the team. You win some, you lose some.

He said he feels confident leaving the party in its current form and under the leadership of newly-elected leader Susan Holt.

Members of the opposition parties spoke highly of Guitard and Landry, setting aside the sometimes partisan rhetoric. Premier Blaine Higgs was one of those politicians.

“He (Landry) just has a balance about him. I guess I would have met with him more than anyone else, so that’s why I can speak to Denis a little more. I think both of them are fine gentlemen.”

Kevin Arsenault, who is a Green MLA, said he shares a common background with Landry, who has ties to the forestry industry and union leadership.

“He told me, ‘I wish you’re here as long as me,’” Arsenault said Friday. “That was pretty cool …coming from Denis, you know, I don’t know if I’ll have his patience but it was touching.”

Denis Landry has been acclaimed mayor in Hautes-Terres and Daniel Guitard is in a three-way race for mayor of Belle-Baie. Election results are expected Nov. 28.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fauci says ‘we need to keep the politics out of’ investigating COVID origins – The Hill

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Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s outgoing chief medical adviser, on Sunday urged officials to “keep the politics out of” investigating the origins of COVID-19 in China.

Speaking with moderator Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Fauci said he is keeping an open mind, but he reiterated that the evidence is “quite strong” that the virus occurred naturally.

“They’re very suspicious of anybody trying to accuse them,” Fauci said of the Chinese government. “We need to have an open dialogue with their scientists and our scientists, keep the politics out of it.”

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Republicans have indicated they plan to investigate the origins of the pandemic upon taking the House majority in January as well as Fauci himself, suggesting COVID-19 instead originated from a laboratory.


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“All of my colleagues, keep an absolutely open mind,” Fauci said on CBS. “We’ve got to investigate every possibility because this is too important not to do that. That’s not incompatible with saying the scientific evidence still weighs much more strongly that this is a natural occurrence. You must keep your mind open that it’s something other than that.”

But Fauci pushed back on the notion that the Chinese Communist Party covered up the pandemic’s origins. 

“Not necessarily the scientists that we know and we have dealt with and collaborated with productively for decades, but the whole establishment — a political and other establishment in China, even when there’s nothing at all to hide — they act secretive, which absolutely triggers an appropriate suspicion,” Fauci said.

He went on to criticize former President Trump’s accusatory comments against China during the early months of the pandemic, although Fauci acknowledged a need for more data.

“What happens is that if you look at the anti-China approach, that clearly the Trump administration had right from the very beginning, and the accusatory nature, the Chinese are going to flinch back and say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, we’re not going to talk to you about it,’ which is not correct. They should be,” Fauci told Brennan.

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Twitter's time in Canadian politics began with an apology — and then it got worse – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from Minority Report, a weekly newsletter on federal politics. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.

The first reference to “tweeting” in the House of Commons came during an apology.

Shortly after question period on the afternoon of October 20, 2009, then-Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh stood on a point of order.

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“I wish to inform you and the House that I inadvertently tweeted about matters that I ought not to have tweeted about, that is, the in-camera proceedings of the defence committee,” Dosanjh told the Speaker. “That was an error on my part and that entry will be deleted at the earliest possible opportunity, which is right after I get out of here.”

This, apparently, was before MPs realized they could have their staff manage their Twitter accounts.

Ujjal Dosanjh in the House of Commons. The then-Liberal MP apologized to the House in 2009 for tweeting out details of in-camera committee proceedings. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“I thank the honourable member,” responded Peter Milliken, Speaker at the time. “I assume that ‘tweeting’ means it went on Twitter.”

Dosanjh’s point of order marked the arrival in Canada of a social media platform that promoted both dialogue and excess — a tool that both enriched debate and created new ways to do things we would later regret.

Thirteen years later, Twitter seems to be teetering on the brink of collapse. Even if it carries on in some shape or form, its time as one of the predominant forums in public life may be nearing an end. Many users have already withdrawn from the platform or reduced their presence.

Whenever and however the Twitter era comes to an end, its impact on Canadians politics will have been great — but not entirely good.

Small audience, big impact

There is a decent chance that you’re not a regular user of Twitter. Most Canadians aren’t. But the platform has an outsized impact on the political life of this country because most Canadian politicians, journalists, pundits, political strategists, pollsters, lobbyists and partisans do use Twitter — along with a significant number of academics, policy wonks and subject matter experts.

Canada is hardly the only country with this dynamic, of course. Consider, for instance, the United States — Twitter played an integral role in Donald Trump’s rise.

Nothing so seismic has happened here (at least not yet) but the impact has not been small.

It also hasn’t been all bad. It gave politicians a new way to communicate with voters and it created a new way for voters to hold politicians to account. It facilitated the spread of news and information with incredible speed and breadth.

It elevated new and underrepresented voices and those voices enriched the wider dialogue. In certain ways, Twitter helped bring more nuance to the political debate. Think of every academic or historian who has used a Twitter thread to illuminate a complicated topic.

That, sadly, isn’t all that might be said about Twitter’s performance as a modern public square.

Amping up the extremes

As much as it has helped expose users to important information and valuable voices, it also has spread misinformation, disinformation, harassment and general nastiness. It prizes and rewards snap judgments, hot takes, outrage, condemnation, mockery, doomsaying and disagreement.

It sped up the news cycle to a dizzying degree. It elevates the most extreme opinions, offers ample opportunity for bad-faith actors and it is a terrible proxy for actual public opinion.

If previous media eras reduced politics to sound bites, Twitter reduced it even further — to hashtags. At times, the House of Commons seemed to be little more than a fancy studio for recording video clips to be pushed out on MPs’ Twitter feeds.

For all these reasons, it might be tempting to think Canadian politics would be better off without Twitter. But even if Twitter were to disappear tomorrow, there is no going back to a time before social media — just as there is no going back to a time before television or radio or newspapers.

If Twitter ceases to be a significant forum, some new platform (or platforms) will take its place. The era of social media is far from over.

There is something to be said for the argument that the problem with Twitter is not the platform itself but the way it is used, and the ways in which it is allowed to be used. In that sense, Twitter offers valuable lessons in how social media can work and how it can go wildly wrong.

Whether those lessons will be heeded is another matter entirely. The question of government regulation still looms on the horizon.

The indisputable truth is that, 13 years after Ujjal Dosanjh found a novel way to betray the confidence of in-camera committee discussions, everyone is still trying to figure out how to make the social media era work out for the best — or to at least minimize the harm it does.

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