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Our self-defeating politics of pettiness serves no good | TheHill – The Hill

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Before starting his State of the Union address, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump discusses coronavirus with China’s Xi El Paso Walmart shooting suspect charged under federal hate crime law Buttigieg: It was ‘disgraceful’ to hear Trump’s attacks on Romney MORE appeared to reject an offered handshake from House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi‘Liberated’ Pelosi bashes Trump — and woos Democratic base Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America’s Health Care Future — House to condemn Trump plan for Medicaid block grants | Chinese doctor who warned of coronavirus dies | CDC ships coronavirus tests The left’s terrible week MORE (D-Calif.), who responded by giving him an abbreviated introduction and later ripped the president’s speech transcript in half. The actions of both leaders were clearly beneath their respective offices. Yet, many partisans love it. The gifs, memes and retweets flowed and were coupled with the mean-spirited commentary that dominates our civic discourse today. It’s ironic that people who claim to be so committed to suffering Americans somehow find humor and solace in petty political gestures that prevent us from effectively addressing the most pressing issues of the day.

We’re in the middle of a presidential campaign and at the end of an impeachment process. It’s a time when sound, sober leadership should win the day. But quick insults and “clap-back” receive much more social media attention than calls for civility and self-examination. Apparently, much of the anti-Trump crowd, in the media and elected office, has decided to respond to him in kind rather than with bold civility. Instead of following the example of leaders such as the late Reps. Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) and Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), they are abandoning a determined and astute posture to embrace the politics of pettiness.

During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump took our political discourse to a new low. I won’t waste time rehashing a phenomenon that’s been editorialized ad nauseam. We all know his thoughtless rants and lack of decorum were rewarded by his base. His vulgarity was applauded by those filled with contempt for the status quo, who discovered that cordial political engagement wasn’t immediately gratifying or politically expedient. In short, Trump was praised for being petty.

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In more progressive circles, a varied but related pettiness has become fashionable as well. Popularized by reality TV and social media quips, this pettiness lacks all the civic virtues that would make it constructive in the public square. Marked by childishness, spite and pretension, the objective is to put someone in their place or to defend one’s honor, usually dishonorably.

The politics of pettiness trivializes even the most serious social and political matters. A talk about systemic injustice no longer is an opportunity to inform and challenge, but instead a chance to demean and “tell them off.” It’s perplexing to see those who claim to be advocates of Americans in need diminish their issues by diverting attention away from the merits. One would think these issues were too important to be mixed with pop-culture trifles. Oddly, those who openly practice the politics of pettiness don’t deny its flippancy, yet they still demand to be taken seriously. But by definition, it is not to be taken seriously and isn’t worthy of representing marginalized minorities or hurting children.

In today’s political commentary and activist speech, disparaging one-liners replace substantive debate. The more defiant the remark, the better, adherents believe — no matter how empty or inaccurate the comment might be. Here, intemperate defiance is the only true indicator of strength and passion. No matter how counterproductive the result, if you’re offending or challenging the right people, then it’s praiseworthy. In actuality, it often just exposes hypersensitivity and the unwillingness of the speaker to endure the pains of self-restraint.

This pettiness doesn’t require the user to be informed; nor are there any other requisite qualifications for the message to go viral. If you can couple a snarky statement with a line from a music radio hit, you’re in business. 

Had pettiness been confined to social media humor and faux-news comedy, it wouldn’t be cause for much concern. Sadly, it’s being invoked in areas of serious consequence. It has seeped into the talking points of our politicians, and it tinges the style of political commentators and so-called “influencers.” 

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It has become commonplace for our presidential candidates to lace their stump speeches with expletives. Presidential debate organizers have to warn candidates not to use profanity, and serious congressional hearings often devolve into bad comedy roasts. Many Democrats have resigned themselves to becoming attack dogs who use pettiness to keep their base rabid. Political leaders are applying the reality television model to politics — the more belligerent you are, the more likely you’ll be asked back next season. 

Our social media feeds are constantly flooded with 30-second video clips of leaders making sharp-tongued remarks that do nothing to move the conversation or the country forward. But we “like” it with delusional hope that it’ll somehow harm our political and ideological opponents. It doesn’t, of course. It harms us and deepens divisions. Now when there is a substantive point to be made, only our echo chamber will be listening.

Cheap rhetoric doesn’t accomplish anything, except to prove that we’ve allowed President Trump to lower the discourse. It doesn’t endear or persuade anyone outside of the base, and it isolates sensible observers. It’s a waste of social capital and ultimately self-defeating. By wading in the mud with Trump, progressives have handed him one of the victories he needed. 

Those who think they’re hurting the president with the politics of pettiness are sadly mistaken. They’re merely paying homage to the godfather of the genre.  

Justin E. Giboney is an Atlanta-based attorney, political strategist, and co-founder and president of the AND Campaign, a Christian civic organization. Follow him on Twitter @JustinEGiboney.

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Former British Columbia premier Christy Clark endorsed Jean Charest

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OTTAWA — Former British Columbia premier Christy Clark on Wednesday endorsed Jean Charest to be the next leader of the federal Conservatives at a time when she says the party is racing to the extremes.

She also expressed choice words for a pitch from a front-runner in Alberta’s United Conservative Party leadership contest who has vowed to introduce legislation to ignore federal laws.

“I think that is bats–t crazy,” Clark said of Danielle Smith’s proposed Alberta Sovereignty Act.

Clark’s comment followed an impassioned speech she delivered in Edmonton to a room of conservatives gathered to discuss the need for the federal party to stick closer to the political centre.

The event was hosted by Centre Ice Conservatives, an advocacy group that formed at the start of the Tories’ leadership contest to encourage candidates to focus on issues like the economy. It argues that championing affordability measures resonate with mainstream Canadians more than others like fighting pandemic-related health restrictions, which has become a rallying cry for many across conservative movements.

Its co-founder Rick Peterson ran in the party’s 2017 leadership contest and has said the new group will not endorse a candidate in the current race.

Clark was the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s event and only waded into commenting on the contest to replace Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as UCP leader when asked to by an audience member.

Clark, who formerly led the centre-right BC Liberal Party, spoke for roughly 20 minutes about the need for political leaders to focus on what Canadians have in common and not stoke division.

She accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of dividing the country when he said the views of the “Freedom Convoy” protesters who blockaded roads and highways last winter to oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates were unacceptable.

Clark said politicians who divide create opportunities for others to do the same.

“Now we’re watching the Conservative Party of Canada make its race for the extremes to play to the very edges of the political divide,” she said.

“I think some days their rhetoric is just as bad or even worse.”

Her comments come as party members have less than one month left to cast their ballots to pick the next leader.

The race, which began in February, has been a fight for the party’s soul and future direction.

The main rivalry has been between longtime Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, who is running on a broad campaign message of “freedom,” and ex-Quebec premier Jean Charest, who has condemned the convoy as breaking the rule of law.

Of the 678,000 Conservative members able to vote in the race, the party reports that around 174,000 ballots have been returned ahead of the deadline Sept.6.

Speaking Wednesday, Clark said she recently received her ballot in the mail and will vote in the contest.

“I think Jean Charest would be a fantastic prime minister,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2022.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

 

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No politics in election map revision, co-chairs say – CBC.ca

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Two former politicians co-chairing a commission redrawing New Brunswick’s provincial election map say there’ll be no politics involved in their work.

Former Liberal premier Camille Thériault and former Progressive Conservative MP Roger Clinch say they will stick to the letter of the law that requires them to come up with 49 new ridings roughly equal in population. 

“Our mandate is very, very clear. It had absolutely nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with gerrymandering,” Thériault said Wednesday as the commission launched its website. “We’re there to follow the piece of legislation that has been put in place.

“We will continue to look straight forward and not think or talk politics, but do what’s best for New Brunswickers within the legislation that we are under.”

Provincial law requires that an independent commission be appointed every 10 years to redraw the 49 electoral districts in the province to reflect changing population numbers.

The new map will take effect for the provincial election scheduled for Oct. 21, 2024, and will have to shift some districts to account for rapid urban growth in the province.

In June, Green MLA Kevin Arseneau alleged the process would involve political trade-offs between the co-chairs to craft ridings beneficial to their former parties.

The three parties in the legislature were asked to suggest names for the commission, but the Green nominees were not chosen because the party refused to have their choices vetted by Premier Blaine Higgs’s office, as the PC and Liberal names were.

“The people on the commission are all very well-respected people, I think, and I don’t think there’s any bias on anyone’s part toward any particular party,” Clinch said.

The six-member commission will hold 12 in-person public meetings and two virtual sessions to sound out New Brunswickers about the new map starting Aug. 23 and continuing to Sept. 15. 

“People will dictate to us what they think it should be,” Clinch said. “We have rules and regulations to follow.” 

After the first round of meetings, they’ll draft a proposed map that they’ll then take out to a second round of consultations before coming up with a final version within 90 days.

The law requires the commission to calculate the average number of voters in each riding, known as the “electoral quotient.” Thériault said the figure they’ll use is 11,714.

Former Progressive Conservative MP Roger Clinch says the commission has rules to follow in redrawing the electoral map. (GNB)

In the new map, each riding’s number of voters must be “as close as reasonably possible” to the quotient, though the commission can deviate by up to 15 per cent to accommodate what are called “communities of interest” and other factors.

In “extraordinary circumstances” such as the need to ensure fair linguistic representation, the commission can deviate from the quotient by up to 25 per cent.

The last redrawing included the creation of Memramcook-Tantramar, which prompted complaints from francophones in the new riding that they were losing their majority-francophone constituency. 

At the time, the law allowed only a five-per cent deviation from the average, so the new commission now has more leeway to put the village in a mostly francophone riding.

“We will probably hear from the people in Memramcook,” Thériault said. “But I’m not prejudging how they feel 10 years later.”

Thériault said ideally he’d like to “tighten” some of the sprawling rural ridings in the province, such as Southwest Miramichi–Bay du Vin, which can take more than two hours to drive from end to end. 

He also mentioned the expanded footprint of St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton, divided between two provincial ridings, as an example of the “housekeeping” the commission may do when it considers “communities of interest.”

But he said the commission isn’t going in with any fixed assumptions and will be guided by the goal of getting as close as possible to the quotient. 

“What we’re saying is that we will take into consideration what New Brunswickers have to say,” he said.

“We will be very transparent. And the ultimate goal here is to try and achieve the 11,714 electors for a riding, which we know probably is impossible to do.”

Last weekend newly elected Liberal Leader Susan Holt said she would wait to see the new map before deciding where she’ll run in the next provincial election. In 2018 Holt was defeated as a candidate in Fredericton South by Green Leader David Coon.

Thériault said those considerations won’t matter to the commission. 

“The redrawing of the electoral map will not be done to provide seats to anyone or any party,” he said. “It will be done in the best interests of New Brunswick.”

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U.S. politics engulfed in threats following police search at Trump's home – CBC News

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A Republican former U.S. attorney general is pleading with his fellow Americans: cool down the ill-informed speculation threatening to engulf the country’s politics.

The police search at Donald Trump’s Florida residence has prompted a surge in inflammatory rhetoric reminiscent of the volatile weeks after the last election.

It’s included violent threats against officials, vows of political retaliation against the FBI, comparisons to Nazi rule and social-media musings about civil war.

Alberto Gonzales is urging people to withhold judgment until we learn more about what actually prompted Tuesday’s hours-long search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

The attorney general under George W. Bush told CBC News he feels sympathy for his former department: the Justice Department avoids, as a general rule, discussing investigations, in part to protect the reputation of its target.

Former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales, pictured in 2016, has urged Americans to allow the Justice Department to conduct its investigation of Trump without threats. (Mark Humphrey/The Associated Press)

Since there is no guarantee charges will be laid following a search, Gonzales said, it’s unfair to a suspect to rush out and describe what you were investigating.

This, he concedes, puts his former department at a disadvantage by creating an information vacuum that in this case is being quickly filled with speculation.

“A lot of people have said, in my judgment, some outrageous things. Are being very, very critical of the department,” Gonzales told CBC this week. 

“There’s a lot here we don’t know yet.… People need to wait. People need to be patient. I have a great deal of confidence and faith in the department. I’m not saying it doesn’t make mistakes from time to time. It does, it may. Nonetheless, I would give the benefit of the doubt to the department. Let the department move forward and do its job.”

Such calls for patience are falling flat. 

Heated rhetoric, threats increase

The nation is awash in furious speculation from every strata of American society, from anonymous accounts to high-ranking members of Congress.

Why did FBI agents scour the former president’s home for classified documents? How sensitive were they? Did Trump show them to anyone? Did any non-Americans see them? Is it connected to a broader investigation? Is it a smear job to stop Trump from running for president again?

Is this all about mishandled documents? Authorities aren’t talking and Trump has refused to release the search warrant, which could offer clues.

WATCH | FBI raid on Trump home likely to galvanize supporters, says political strategist:

FBI raid on Trump home likely to galvanize supporters, says political strategist

2 days ago

Duration 5:07

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation raid on former U.S. president Donald Trump’s private home in Florida is likely to pump up Trump loyalists and prompt him to dive into the next presidential election soon, says Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson.

Republican politicians have largely closed ranks around the former president and threatened everything from defunding the FBI to grilling law enforcement at committee hearings.

They compared the raid to a foreign dictatorship tactic. They raised money off it, soliciting donations to fight alleged persecution. 

They channeled the rage of the grassroots supporters who idolize Trump, like one protester outside Mar-a-Lago who told Reuters on Tuesday: “You feel like you might be in Venezuela or China or Russia or even in Hitler’s Germany.”

Researchers of online chatter say the intensity of anger has spiked to levels resembling the environment before the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol.

It includes talk of murdering the judge who reportedly authorized the search warrant, along with the heads of the FBI and the attorney general.

Online calls for civil war

Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, said regular citizens are hearing from conservative opinion-makers that America is slipping into tyranny and they’ll be targeted next.

And the response, he said, has been an instant surge in violent rhetoric across multiple online platforms, especially smaller websites without teams of content moderators.

Former president Donald Trump gestures as he departs Trump Tower on Wednesday in New York, on his way to the New York attorney general’s office for a deposition in a civil investigation. (Julia Nikhinson/The Associated Press)

“It’s large amounts of people openly fantasizing about using violence to target their perceived enemies,” Friedfeld said in an interview. 

“People are saying they’re fed up, that it’s time for a civil war, that they have to fight back now, otherwise they’ll live in tyranny.”

One difference from Jan. 6, he said, is there’s no physical rallying point, no place for a mob to gather right now.

This is an aerial view of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday. (Steve Helbe/The Associated Press)

That will change if Trump ever gets charged.

A police lieutenant in one U.S. city told CBC News that colleagues are already having informal discussions about how to secure the courthouse if there’s a Trump-related case there.

‘Lock and load’

Friedfeld said it’s an obvious risk. He predicted that prosecutors would have their personal information leaked on the internet and would face a deluge of threats.

“Everyone on the prosecution will need to be protected,” he said. “Physical security is going to be paramount.… There will be people advocating for violence against the people trying to prosecute Trump.”

WATCH | What’s next for Trump following FBI raid?

What’s next for Trump following FBI raid?

2 days ago

Duration 6:58

Kelly Jane Torrance, an editor for the New York Post, and former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks weigh-in on the significance of the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s home, and what could come next for the former president.

Another researcher, Daniel Jones, said the inflammatory rhetoric comes from three groups.

One he describes as entertainers — media personalities who crave attention. In that category he includes Fox News prime-time shows excoriating “Biden’s FBI.”

Another he calls conspiracy theorists, Q-Anon types. 

“We’re seeing things like, ‘Lock and load.’ … ‘This is a civil war,'” said Jones, the lead investigator in the U.S. Senate’s report on torture in the CIA, and a researcher with the non-profit, non-partisan group Advance Democracy.

“[We’re seeing] direct threats against that judge [who reportedly signed the warrant]… [And stuff like], ‘Attorney General Merrick Garland should be executed and assassinated.'”

Republican calls for defunding FBI

The third and final group he identifies, the one he calls most disappointing, comprises mainstream politicians who should know better.

Some Republicans have been repeating Trump’s line that perhaps police planted evidence at his home.

It’s not just prime-time Republican talking heads calling for defunding the FBI. Even some members of Congress are talking that way.

That includes the Georgia Q-Anon peddling firebrand, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who told One America News Network she’s thrilled by how many of her lawmaker colleagues are siding with her.

“I usually fight with my Republican colleagues, because I don’t think they’re strong enough,” she said. 

“But I am hearing things that I am so happy to finally hear come out of their mouths. Because when we take back the majority and we are in control in the House of Representatives, we are going after the Department of Justice; we’re going after the FBI. We’ll control the budget that funds everybody’s program and everybody’s paycheques.”

‘A federal judge authorized this search’

Republicans on Capitol Hill say the outrage is not merely performative, as a public declaration of fealty to Trump in order to placate their grassroots.

They say they truly believe authorities, and the media, aggressively target conservatives while ignoring transgressions from Hunter Biden and Hillary Clinton.

The most senior Republican in the House of Representatives had a message about what his party will do if it wins a majority in this year’s midterm elections and gains power over congressional committees.

WATCH | Donald Trump pleads the Fifth Amendment before the New York State attorney general:

Donald Trump pleads the fifth amendment before the New York State attorney general

18 hours ago

Duration 5:09

Stacey Lee is a constitutional law expert from Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, she joins us to discuss the implications of Trump’s decision to plead the fifth in an ongoing civil investigation into his business practices as well as the fallout from the FBI raid on his Mar-A-Lago estate.

Party leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy said in a statement that he would call Garland to committee hearings and demand he preserve all documents about the case.

Another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, told Fox News that his party will scrutinize the actions of law enforcement.

“You better have explanations ready,” he said. “Because you cannot weaponize our institutions for political gain. That is the destruction of democracy.”

The eruption of outrage underscored the extent to which the Republicans are truly, deeply Donald Trump’s party now.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush’s attorney general offered his faint plea for people to trust law enforcement. 

“A federal judge authorized this search,” Gonzales told CBC. “That means something, as far as I’m concerned.”

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