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Opinion: What started in Kansas upends American politics – CNN

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Sign up to get this weekly column as a newsletter. We’re looking back at the strongest, smartest opinion takes of the week from CNN and other outlets.

(CNN)In “The Wizard of Oz,” a tornado sends Dorothy and her Kansas home spinning into the “Merry Old Land of Oz.” Last week it was what Politico called a “political earthquake” in Kansas that sent the national debate over abortion into a new phase with many unknowns.

For decades, the anti-abortion movement worked to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established a national right to abortion. But their long-sought goal, finally achieved in June, may turn out to be a case of “be careful what you wish for.” By a vote of 59% to 41%, the people of Kansas rejected an amendment to the state constitution that would have eliminated the right to an abortion.
“It’s a huge victory for abortion rights,” wrote Jill Filipovic. “The result in Kansas confirms that Americans simply do not want an extreme anti-abortion movement regulating women’s bodies. Kansans have said what most Americans believe: abortion is an issue best left to women and their doctors.”
But she added that this was a vote which should never have happened. “Fundamental rights — and it doesn’t get more fundamental than sovereignty over one’s own body — should not be up for a vote, even if the righteous side is likely to win,” Filipovic argued.
Writing for Politico, John F. Harris suggested that the vote in Kansas, along with others that may follow, could scramble the legacy of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the majority opinion overturning Roe. He may go down in history as the “the justice who facilitated a national consensus on behalf of abortion rights. Quite unintentionally, today’s hero of the ‘pro-life’ movement could end up being a giant of the ‘pro-choice’ movement.”
Tuesday’s vote in Kansas, which “mirrors polling showing solid majorities of people supported leaving Roe v. Wade intact, suggests that opponents of legal abortion do better when the prospect of an abortion ban is hypothetical, while abortion-rights supporters do better when the issue is tangibly real,” wrote Harris.
A moderate Republican, former Rep. Charlie Dent, noted that “the overturning of Roe v. Wade has energized a previously demoralized Democratic base and could galvanize college educated suburban women in particular … If the GOP can’t win an abortion fight in Kansas, imagine the difficulty it will face in swing states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”
“Coupled with Trump’s stolen election obsession, mass shootings and a growing number of extreme GOP candidates in competitive races, the unpopularity of the Roe decision may mitigate Democratic losses in November, despite vulnerabilities on a number of other fronts (namely, the economy).”
Dent also faulted Democrats for running ads that backed extreme, election-denying candidates in the GOP primaries in the hope that Democratic candidates could more easily defeat them in the general election. In Michigan, “the courageous freshman Congressman Peter Meijer, who voted to impeach Trump just days after being sworn into Congress, fell to an election-denying candidate, John Gibbs, a former Trump administration official who was backed by the former President,” Dent wrote.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent more than $300,000 on ads touting Gibbs’ “conservatism and fidelity to Trump,” wrote Dent. “I’m sure plenty of Democratic operatives are cackling over their success meddling in the GOP primary, but any smugness may turn into deep regret if Gibbs ends up prevailing in November. Those who play with fire often get burned.

For more:
Mary Ziegler and Elizabeth Sepper: The coming state-federal showdown over abortion

Nancy Pelosi drops in

China fired off missiles, flew jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and called off talks with the US on issues such as climate change and military relations. The reason: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, which China sees as part of its territory.
While Pelosi’s visit sparked apocalyptic warnings and fevered headlines, Taiwanese-American journalist Clarissa Wei wrote that the people of Taiwan are mostly unfazed. “What’s most frustrating about the reaction to Pelosi’s visit is not the prophetic declaration of imminent doom, but the expectation of fear and the surprise that follows when people realize that we aren’t all panicking in Taiwan — as if the calm we exude in light of unprecedented threats is a symptom of our ignorance of the facts before us.”
Threats from China are nothing new. They have been a part of my life, my parents’ lives and their parents’ lives for as long as almost anyone in my family can remember. In fact, Taiwan has been under threat by the People’s Republic of China for nearly 70 years. The three Taiwan Strait crises are proof of that.”

Alex Jones

A Texas jury ordered incendiary radio host Alex Jones to pay a combined $49.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the parents of a child killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting 10 years ago. Jones’ legal troubles aren’t over by any means: he faces two more such trials.
One of the parents, Scarlett Lewis, even had to testify that her son “Jesse was real. I’m a real mom.”
“It’s an unthinkable statement for a grief-stricken parent to have to make,” wrote Nicole Hemmer, “testifying that her 6-year-old son, murdered while he sat in school, had actually lived, and that she was the woman who had given birth to him and raised him for the too-few years he was alive. But that was the testimony Scarlett Lewis gave this week at a hearing to determine damages against Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist and media personality.”

“After 20 children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Jones began to spin lurid conspiracies that the shootings never happened and that the shattered families were simply actors. The conspiracy triggered years of harassment as conspiracists targeted the mourning parents, who have had to hire security to protect themselves.”
But as Hemmer noted, Jones is not a lone fringe player in the media world. He is “part of the right-wing power structure, from his interviews with soon-to-be president Donald Trump to his alleged role as an organizer at the January 6 insurrection.”
“More than that, many in the Republican Party and conservative movement increasingly sound like Jones, with talk of false flags, crisis actors and pedophile rings now a mainstay of right-wing rhetoric. And while the Trump presidency opened the door for the mainstreaming of Jones, it’s important to understand how ripe the GOP was for Alex Jonesification.
In Dallas, the Conservative Political Action Conference gave a warm welcome to Hungary’s autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
“The audience cheered him on during his blistering attacks on abortion, immigration, LGBTQ rights and more,” Julian Zelizer observed.
“The illiberal and anti-democratic elements of Republican politics, which flared during the Trump presidency, are alive and well. As Orban’s popularity indicates, the profoundly anti-democratic strains that have been shaping the GOP keep getting stronger, not weaker…”
“The talk comes on the same week that several election deniers, as well as participants in the January 6 insurrection, won in the primaries. The assault on the 2020 election continues to be a unifying theme in Republican circles. Even if some Republican voters are tiring of Trump, his rallying cry animates much of the electorate.

Terrorist leader killed

Eleven years after then-President Barack Obama announced the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a US raid, President Joe Biden described the tracking down and elimination of bin Laden’s former associate, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“The airstrike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri over the weekend in Afghanistan is part of the long and justified campaign by the United States to bring all the heads of the terror group to justice,” wrote Peter Bergen.
Still, some of the claims about al-Zawahiri’s impact were overblown. “While Zawahiri was influential in the very early years of al Qaeda in turning bin Laden against the regimes in the Middle East, he wasn’t involved in bin Laden’s most important strategic decisions — that is, turning him against the US and planning 9/11. And Zawahiri proved to be an incompetent leader of al Qaeda when he took over the group more than a decade ago.”
Bergen added, “Zawahiri was not a charismatic leader of al Qaeda in the mold of Osama bin Laden. Instead, he had all the charisma of a boring uncle given to long, arcane monologues, someone that you would best avoid sitting next to at Thanksgiving dinner.”

Families in turmoil

Guy Reffitt was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, the longest penalty meted out so far to insurrectionists who took part in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. His son Jackson Reffitt had reported his father to the FBI on Christmas Eve 2020.
“The Reffitts’ story is tragic, but hardly unique,” observed SE Cupp. “Chances are, you probably do know someone who’s been sucked into the cult of Trumpism, as Guy was.
“Maybe it’s an aunt or uncle posting about rigged elections on Facebook, spreading Trump’s lie that the election was stolen…
“Maybe it’s a father, or a mother, or a brother, who’s gone down a QAnon rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, and is no longer attached to reality.”
“The carnage from Trump’s divisive rhetoric, lies, and conspiracy theories is incalculable. Trumpism is a powerful drug, one that can even cause a father to threaten his own child.
This was, incidentally, all by design. Trump stoked the fears and grievances of his base, turned Americans against each other, spread lies and conspiracy theories, undermined our faith in democratic institutions — all so that he could keep his supporters rabid, angry, willing to do whatever he asked. And sadly, many of them did.”
For more:

Bill Russell and Nichelle Nichols

On and off the field, Bill Russell was a leader. On and off the screen, Nichelle Nichols was an inspirational role model. Both died last weekend.
Peniel Joseph recalled Russell’s contributions as an athlete and a crusader against racism. “Russell was a 6-foot-10 center whose defensive prowess, rebounding skills and all-around leadership propelled the Celtics to 11 titles in 13 years,” Joseph wrote. “As if appearing in a news reel of the most significant events of the civil rights era, he was present, time and again, at key moments for the movement, from the March on Washington in 1963 to his visit to Mississippi that same year following the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers…”
Over the years, he never lost his willingness to call out racism, or a perceived indifference to it. In recent years, he chided White Americans for their incredulity — in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the racial and political reckoning that followed — about the existence of systemic racism.”
When “Star Trek” premiered in 1966, one of the cast members “was the cool, sultry, supremely self-possessed Lt. Nyota Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols, still a relative newcomer to television,” Gene Seymour recalled. In an era when the civil rights movement achieved its biggest successes, Nichols’ role had a symbolic significance. Yet “she was discouraged by her lines being cut from some of the episodes and was ready to move on to the Broadway stage. And she would have left if she hadn’t met a die-hard ‘Trek’ fan at an NAACP fundraiser in Hollywood: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.”
King “told her that he and his family enjoyed watching ‘Trek’ and rooted for her playing a non-stereotypical Black character. She thanked him but said she was on her way out,” Seymour wrote.
“‘You cannot and must not!'” Nichols recalled King saying in her autobiography. “‘Don’t you realize how important your presence, your character is? Don’t you see? This is not a Black role, and this is not a female role… You have broken ground. For the first time, the world sees us as we should be seen, as equals, as intelligent people — as we should be.'”
Nichols stayed with the show for its remaining two seasons and later would embrace “her importance as an inspiration and role model for young Black people whose dreams of space science and travel were emboldened by her character’s futuristic adventures.”

Don’t miss

AND…

Lizzo and Beyoncé heard her

It’s no easy task — getting the attention of two of the world’s biggest music superstars. And even more impressive, getting them to make changes in their work.
Yet Hannah Diviney, a disability activist in Australia, accomplished just that.
She called out Lizzo and Beyoncé on Twitter for including an offensive term referring to her disability in recent albums. Both artists soon responded and revised their songs’ lyrics.
“Words matter,” Diviney wrote. “They always have and they always will. Language is one of the few tools in the world most people can wield with ease and on social media even more so. That’s why it’s worth paying attention to how we use it. That’s why my mom always taught me the pen was mightier than the sword. If anything, this week has taught me that thanks to social media and the power of a well-crafted tweet, we have access to the mightiest pens of all. And that’s why I hope we can use this global attention to have bigger conversations about the inequalities disabled people face. From little things, big things grow.”

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New cohort of young leaders emerging in Canadian politics – Hindustan Times

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Published on Sep 25, 2022 02:14 PM IST

Among the newcomers is first-time candidate Ayushe Sharman, who turned 30 just this year, and is seeking a place in the council from the Greater Toronto Area city of Mississauga

City council candidate Ayushe Sharman (right) campaigning in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. (Supplied photo)

TORONTO: While the Indo-Canadian community has already made its presence felt in Canadian politics, a new cohort of young leaders, aged below 35, is emerging for the future.

As municipal elections are scheduled in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) next month, this group could prove a pivotal role in the years ahead, as the region often dictates the balance of power at the national level.

Among the newcomers is first-time candidate Ayushe Sharman, who turned 30 just this year, and is seeking a place in the council from the GTA city of Mississauga.

Sharman, born in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, is contesting the elections for Ward 2, and has a background in corporate and political digital advertising with her own production house.

Part of the reason, she said, for her entering the field for the October 24 election is that there is a “void of age diversity” in the city council, which does not represent youth like her.

And being young is among the characteristics that will enable her to work better for constituents, she explained. “I want to enter municipal governance at a time when I have maximum amount of vigour to run around and put myself at work for people,” she said.

Campaigning from early morning into the evening, she is bringing a national style of door knocking and canvassing to a poll where voters often have little knowledge of the candidates.

Sharman is part of a trend that will see young lawyer and business-owner Nikki Kaur to vie for the post of mayor in the neighbouring town of Brampton.

Kaur’s campaign launched on Saturday with the theme, The Change Brampton Needs.

Indo-Canadians in their age bracket, including two more running for the Mississauga council – Kushagr Sharma and Rahul Mehta.

They are part of a phenomenon that has become increasingly evident in recent years. In the provincial elections in Ontario this year, young Hardeep Grewal caused a major upset defeating Gurratan Singh, brother of Federal New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh.

Of course, the youngest member of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet is from the Indo-Canadian community: New Delhi-born Kamal Khera, who is just 33, and ironically holds the portfolio of Minister of Seniors.



  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR




    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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I Don't Like Your Politics – Forbes

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Even if they love the product, 45% of Millennials will stop using a brand or company that does not align with their political beliefs. That’s according to an InSites Consulting consumer research study on how customers want brands to respond during turbulent times relating to politics, inflation, the pandemic and more.

More than ever, the U.S. is divided on politics, religion, human rights, environmental issues and many other topics that have people disagreeing and arguing, sometimes to a level of violence. In business, while some vocal customers may try to get a company’s or brand’s attention, most consumers will vote for approval or disapproval with their wallets.

Not all generations feel the same about politics and other issues that have become politicized. While 40% of Gen Z and 43% of Millennials take a strong stance on political matters, 46% of Gen X and 44% of Boomers feel it’s best to stay out of the debate.

But there is a difference between a political or social cause that is important to people and one that causes an angry response. As the old saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. The contested issues that tie to politics, human rights and religion seem to be motivating consumers to choose to do business—or not—with certain brands that have chosen to be open about their stance on these issues.

Sometimes, believing in something important can be attractive instead of controversial. Environmental issues have become politicized. While companies like Patagonia are known for their stance on sustainability, you don’t read or hear about protestors outside of their headquarters disagreeing with the use of recycled materials in their products. To that point, a good cause can help create sales and even customer loyalty. According to the 2022 Achieving Customer Amazement Study (sponsored by Amazon Web Services), 45% of consumers believe it’s important that a company supports a social cause that’s important to them. And the findings in the InSites Consulting report, especially as it applies to the younger generations (Gen Z and Millennials), have similarities.

Here are some other significant findings that help define the differences between younger and older generations of consumers:

· Gen Z and Millennials believe companies that respond to current events (for example, brands that pulled out of Russia or companies providing new employee benefits amid the overturn of Roe vs. Wade) are doing so because they authentically care about their employees and customers. On the other hand, Gen X and Boomers slightly favor the belief that companies are only doing so to avoid criticism or to follow the pack.

· Gen Z and Millennials want open and frequent communication during turbulent times. They want to be kept informed and appreciate consistent messaging. Gen X and Boomers prefer incentives and discounts to get their business.

· Fifty percent of Gen Z and 54% of Millennials want their values to align with a company’s purpose, whereas many Gen X (36%) and Boomers (40%) feel neutral toward this statement.

· In times of turbulence, Gen Z and Millennials agree companies should “support their employees above all else.” Gen X and Boomers feel slightly stronger that companies should “support their customers above all else.”

So, what do we do with this information?

You could write an entire book with the answers to these questions, but first and foremost, you must understand who your customers are. If you sell to Boomers, many of whom are retired or close to retirement, how you market and sell to them will be different than how you market and sell to the younger generations of customers. Those differences are important to note, especially

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‘We saw what happened in Ontario’: Quebecers urged to vote in provincial election

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MONTREAL — An incumbent premier and his party sail through an election campaign as a fragmented opposition vies to capture the attention of voters in the absence of a central rallying issue or tide-turning missteps.

The scenario playing out in Quebec in the lead-up to next month’s provincial election may seem like déjà vu for residents of Ontario, where the Progressive Conservatives won a second majority in June.

Doug Ford’s victory came as voter turnout in that province reached an all-time low — about 43 per cent, according to preliminary results — and some observers have blamed the drop in participation to the lack of a competitive race or galvanizing issue.

In Quebec, where the incumbent Coalition Avenir Québec has maintained a commanding lead in the polls throughout the campaign, some political parties have raised concerns the province could be headed toward a low voter turnout on Oct. 3.

Earlier this week, Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade pointed to Ontario in calling for voters to mobilize against the CAQ and its leader, François Legault.

“Go out and vote,” Anglade told reporters. “We saw what happened in Ontario.”

Meanwhile, the organization that oversees Quebec’s election has broadened its get-out-the-vote message to the social media platform TikTok in an effort to reverse a downward trend in voter turnout, particularly among younger people. In the 2018 provincial election, 66.45 per cent of voters cast a ballot, a drop of nearly five percentage points from 2014. The turnout for those 35 and under was 53.41 per cent, 16 percentage points lower than for voters older than 35.

Like many other incumbents, Ford and Legault have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic with solid public support, and there doesn’t seem to be a broad appetite for change, according to political experts. Both leaders also saw formerly strong rivals — the provincial Liberal parties — perform poorly, and opposition parties fail to set the agenda or a viable ballot issue, they said.

An election that “looks like a foregone conclusion” may discourage some from voting because they feel it won’t make a difference, said Peter Graefe, a political science professor at McMaster University.

That might be the case this time for Quebecers who usually support the Liberals since the party won’t likely form government, he said. Since the last election, the Quebec Liberals have struggled to connect with francophones and have alienated part of their anglophone base in Montreal by being seen as weak on language issues.

Other voters, however, may be more motivated, particularly those who back the Conservative Party of Quebec and its opposition to the CAQ’s pandemic measures, Graefe said.

Even if the province doesn’t seem poised for a change of leadership, the race for second place may be a draw for some voters, especially as polls suggest the Liberals could lose their status as official Opposition, said Geneviève Tellier, a political science professor at the University of Ottawa.

A Leger poll released earlier this week suggests support for the CAQ was at 38 per cent, more than double that of its closest runners-up. Three parties — the Liberals, Québec solidaire and the Conservatives — were at 16 per cent, while the Parti Québécois was at 13 per cent support.

“It’s still uncertain and so it’s a three-way race with the Conservatives, the Liberals and (Québec solidaire) in popular support,” which could lead to some interesting battles in certain ridings, Tellier said.

“There could be some surprises” in ridings such as Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships, where popular Québec solidaire incumbent Christine Labrie is facing a challenge from a high-profile CAQ candidate: former Longueuil, Que., mayor Caroline St-Hilaire.

The fact that five major parties are competing for the first time is also “a big novelty” that may stir public interest, Tellier said.

And without the traditional question of sovereignty and federalism on the ballot, there’s an opportunity for people to vote based on other issues they care about, she added. “And so people will have interest in different topics and that may dictate their choice in a new way.”

Graefe, however, said having sovereignty off the ballot could instead lessen the incentive to vote if people feel the stakes aren’t as high. “In this instance that kind of existential question has been taken off the table, and so it becomes more like an election in any other province,” he said.

Just over a week before the election, Montreal resident Patricia Machabee still wasn’t sure who to vote for — or even if she would vote at all.

Though she believes voting is a civic duty, there isn’t much motivation when the CAQ appears poised to win, she said in a recent interview. “My vote isn’t even really going to count.”

What’s more, none of the other options are appealing this time, she said, adding that her husband is also on the fence about casting a ballot, for similar reasons.

“I’ve been voting Liberal for most of my life, since I’ve been allowed to vote … but nobody’s got me excited,” she said. “I’m going to have to try to figure out what I’m going to do.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2022.

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

 

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