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jerryking : partisanship   10

Six rules for managing our era’s oversupply of non-stop news, high-decibel outrage
May 11, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | editorials.

Rule No. 1: You don’t need to have an opinion about everything. Shocking but true. ....It’s perfectly fair to say, “I don’t know enough to have an opinion on that," or, “I will leave that to others to debate,” or even, “Both sides have some good points.” You might not please everyone, but see Rule No. 2.

* Rule No. 2: You can’t please everyone. Get over it.

* Rule No. 3: Embrace ambivalence....often misinterpreted as indifference, or derided as indecision. In fact, the ability to entertain contradictory but animating ideas goes to the heart of what it means to be a mature and civilized human being. It’s also central to preserving political freedom. The most dangerous person in a democracy is the blind partisan who outsources her opinions to politicians or an ideology, and who sees those who don’t agree as enemies to be righteously chased from town by a torch-wielding mob. The biggest threat to such black-and-white partisanship is the person who keeps her mind open, is not blindly loyal to any one team and sees people with different opinions not as monsters to be slain but as human beings to be understood, especially when you disagree with them, and they disagree with you.

* Rule No. 4: When you take a stand, be forceful. While the process of reaching a conclusion should involve a lot of “on the one hand” and “on the other,” at some point you have to make a choice.

In a criminal trial, the decision to convict an accused person can only be taken if the evidence is persuasive beyond a reasonable doubt – in other words, if the evidence is irrefutable and the conclusion is certain. But in politics, business and life, most decisions must be taken under conditions that cannot meet that exacting standard. Reasonable doubts are reasonable. Only the extreme partisan is without them.

* Rule No. 5: Set your bottom line. How far are you willing to let another person go before you feel obliged to offer a counter-opinion? Not every take you hear deserves the energy required to argue against it. Sometimes, you have to just let people say things you don’t agree with. You might learn something.

And remember, just as there is no obligation to have an opinion on every subject, there is also no rule that says you must express your opinion every time the chance presents itself. But when someone or something does cross a line, sometimes you can’t hold back. It may be as lofty as a matter of justice, or a simple as a question of common sense, but there comes a moment when your opinion will matter.

* Rule No. 6: Opinions are not the same thing as empathy. Empathy is what makes it possible for people who disagree to live together in peace and harmony – to agreeably disagree. And in a multicultural, multireligious, multiracial, multiparty democracy, people are going to disagree about all sorts of things, all the time.

The world has enough opinions. What it really needs is more empathy. Without it, life isn’t possible.
21st._century  agreeably_disagree  ambivalence  commoditization_of_information  disagreements  disinformation  dual-consciousness  empathy  hard_choices  incivility  incompatibilities  indecision  information_overload  news  opinions  open_mind  outrage  partial_truths  partisanship  partisan_loyalty  political_spin  propaganda  rules_of_the_game 
may 2019 by jerryking
After the SNC-Lavalin affair, we must strip the influence of political staffers - The Globe and Mail
Omer Aziz was a policy adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

From the outside, our government is a democracy with duly elected parliamentarians. From the inside, it can feel like an autocracy, with power concentrated in very few hands. There is a single node of power and all the channels run through it. That’s why the Prime Minister’s Office is colloquially referred to as “the Centre.”....At Global Affairs Canada, political staffers meet regularly with stakeholders, including human-rights groups, corporate representatives and anyone else who might be affected by our policies, and signals regularly came from above on how to manoeuvre on a certain file. If a message comes from “the Centre” to your office, you can bet that everyone will drop everything and make sure they are meeting expectations. Refuse, and well – these people hold your future in their hands.

It would be no stretch to say that most of the important decisions made by the Canadian government are made by only a handful of people. This has led to preventable errors and bad policy outcomes such as Justin Trudeau’s India trip or the SNC-Lavalin affair. As with too much accumulated wealth, too much accumulated power is ultimately bad for democracy.

There are more than 600 political staffers in Ottawa. These jobs are not publicly advertised and are notoriously difficult to come by if you’re not already well-connected. It’s no wonder that diversity is such a problem in government – and this includes viewpoint diversity as much as ethnic and racial diversity.

Pull back the curtain and it turns out the people in the backrooms mostly resemble one another. Within the political staff itself, there exists a hierarchy, with senior staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office at the top. This is where the real decisions are made.

We need to seriously scale back the influence of political staffers and legislate what the parameters of their jobs really are......The biggest problem with concentrating political power is that it leads to hubris and arrogance, and eventually to critical errors. It leads people to believe that they can overstep boundaries in the name of the Boss.

Absolute power not only corrupts, it is fundamentally corrupting to the entire operation. This is not how a parliamentary system of government is supposed to work. These people are not the mafia. The government does not belong to them.

We could cut the number of staffers in half and Ottawa would run better than it does now. There should also be a formal, publicly acknowledged policy process so Canadians can trust that the system of democracy is working from within and decisions that might shape the future of the country for decades are not being made by a cloistered elite.
centralization  Ottawa  PMO  political_power  SNC-Lavalin  politicians  political_staffers  Canada  Canadian  government  institutions  partisanship  GoC 
february 2019 by jerryking
We cannot win if we do not like each other
May 6 2018 | Sunday Stabroek | by Ian McDonald.

When I was a schoolboy we had a games-master named Mr. Wilkinson who had served the College for all eternity. I suppose he must have been in his fi...
Guyana  Guyanese  partisanship  national_unity  factionalism  dissension  ethnic_divisions  politics  intolerance  incivility  mistrust  personal_animosity  personal_invective 
may 2018 by jerryking
The country is frighteningly polarized. This is why.
June 15, 2017 | The Washington Post | By Fareed Zakaria Opinion.

in the past few decades, people began to define themselves politically less by traditional economic issues than by identity — gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation. I would add to this mix social class, something rarely spoken of in the United States but a powerful determinant of how we see ourselves. Last year’s election had a lot to do with social class, with non-college-educated rural voters reacting against a professional, urban elite.....Today, everything becomes fodder for partisanship....Zakaria criticizes America’s mostly liberal colleges for silencing views they deem offensive, arguing that it was bad for the students and the country. The same holds for conservatives who try to mount campaigns to defund art that they deem offensive.....Instead of trying to silence, excommunicate and punish, let’s look at the other side and try to listen, engage and, when we must, disagree.
blue-collar  disagreements  political_polarization  Fareed_Zakaria  identity_politics  gender  race  rural  ethnicity  sexual_orientation  partisanship  Julius_Caesar  social_classes  voters  electorate  political_correctness 
june 2017 by jerryking
The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus - The New York Times
OCT. 13, 2015 | NYT | David Brooks.

The Republican Party’s capacity for effective self-governance degraded slowly, over the course of a long chain of rhetorical excesses, mental corruptions and philosophical betrayals. Basically, the party abandoned traditional conservatism for right-wing radicalism. Republicans came to see themselves as insurgents and revolutionaries, and every revolution tends toward anarchy and ends up devouring its own.
By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions....Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced....Politics is the process of making decisions amid diverse opinions. It involves conversation, calm deliberation, self-discipline, the capacity to listen to other points of view and balance valid but competing ideas and interests.

But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.
right-wing  David_Brooks  GOP  conservatism  Tea_Party  dysfunction  root_cause  Rush_Limbaugh  radicalization  mindsets  messiness  politics  compromise  rhetoric  listening  self-discipline  conversations  partisanship  political_polarization  partisan_warfare 
october 2015 by jerryking
It’s not too late for Harper to play the statesman - The Globe and Mail
LAWRENCE MARTIN
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Sep. 08, 2015

Why doesn’t Mr. Harper show some of the spirit of the Mandela occasion and appoint a blue-ribbon panel of former prime ministers to advise him on the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis? Given their experience, they could offer sound counsel. It would be an effective way of depoliticizing the issue. That’s what Canadians want. They’ve had their fill of overbearing political partisanship. In the face of a humanitarian crisis, they don’t need more of it.

For the Conservatives, a non-partisan approach makes perfect sense. Humanitarian issues are hardly their forte. They connote soft power. They fit the progressives’ playbook. The Liberals and New Democrats stand to gain.

But thus far, the government has reacted with its customary combative mentality.
Stephen_Harper  Lawrence_Martin  partisanship  Federal_Election_2015  leaders  leadership  statesmen  political_polarization  partisan_warfare  Syrian  refugee  crisis  playbooks 
september 2015 by jerryking
The root causes of Paul Calandra - The Globe and Mail
, Sep. 26 2014

Being Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, a vital job in our parliamentary democracy. Answering that person's questions is key!!!

The symptoms are chronic and the prognosis bleak, because this is a top-down problem. Successive prime ministers have hoarded power in their office and reduced cabinet members and government MPs to carbon-based rubber stamps. This is not a development that is specific to Mr. Harper – Jean Chrétien was no great decentralizer of prime ministerial power either – but Mr. Harper has taken it further than his predecessors. He is at risk of becoming more well known for the contempt of Parliament that has flourished under him than he is for his accomplishments as one of the country’s longest-serving prime ministers.
root_cause  Paul_Calandra  parliamentary_democracy  loyal_opposition  editorials  partisanship  Conservative_Party  House_of_Commons  Stephen_Harper 
september 2014 by jerryking
John Turner: a great defender of Parliament - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 06 2012,

But June 18 will be more than just an occasion to reminisce, as Mr. Turner is expected to expand on his brief remarks at a recent Public Policy Forum dinner where he was scathing about the state of Canada's Parliament.

He lamented the centralization of power in the Prime Minister's Office, and the erosion of the importance and independence of standing committees "that used to be a real element of democracy in the House of Commons." He condemned the Conservative's omnibus budget bill, reminding the audience that "the budget used to be related to taxation," and arguing the government's strategy is to hamper debate. He also cited the inheritance of Magna Carta, the charter of liberties, that a ruler's will is not arbitrary, and that the privileges of parliamentarians need to be protected.

"What we have in this country didn't happen by accident, democracy doesn't happen by accident," said Mr. Turner. "Let's fight for the restoration of the supremacy of Parliament in our democratic life."

It was more than partisanship, it was a heart-felt defence of Canada's parliamentary democracy by a great Canadian parliamentarian. June 18 promises to be interesting.
anniversaries  centralization  democracy  editorials  House_of_Commons  John_Turner  Magna_Carta  Parliament  parliamentary_democracy  partisanship  PMO  arbitrariness 
june 2012 by jerryking

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