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Media unload on Trump for saying he’d have run into Florida school

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Just as we’re having an intense conversation about mass shootings and gun control, the media are fixating on some remarks by President Trump that do nothing to advance the debate.

The president probably should have avoided the braggadocious comments, but this is the pattern we’ve seen so many times: Trump says something inartful, that causes a media eruption, and the underlying issue is overshadowed as the pundits race to their battle stations.

To me, the overriding question right now is whether Trump and Congress are going to actually do something in the wake of the Florida school shooting after the president put the issue at the top of the national agenda.

But the coverage took a sharp turn after Trump spoke to the semi-annual gathering of governors. As he denigrated the failure of deputy sheriffs to run into the Parkland high school as the gunman opened fire, the part of the Trump quote that many are using is this: “I really believe I’d run in, even if I didn’t have a weapon.”

Now that sounds like he’s casting himself as some kind of superhero, and was guaranteed to draw criticism.

But here’s the full context: “I really believe–you don’t know until you test it, but I think–I’d really believe I’d run into–even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would have done that too, because I know most of you. But the way they performed was really a disgrace.”

So what Trump was saying was that he was not more courageous than “most of the people in this room,” but still believes—though you never really know until confronted with a crisis—that he would have done more than the dormant deputies.

That was the lead of the New York Times story. The Washington Post ran a piece saying “here’s what he’s done in the face of danger”: accepting five Vietnam draft deferments (one of them for bone spurs) and appearing spooked when a man charged the stage at a campaign rally.

Others ran pieces on Trump critic Stephen Colbert mocking the president. USA Today’s headline: “Late night: Trump’s living in a ‘fantasy world’ for saying he’d have ‘run in’ to Fla. school.”

The Chicago Tribune’s headline: “Colbert to Trump: ‘What are you going to do, run in there and stab them with your bone spurs?'”

Did Trump open the door with his comments? Sure. But ultimately, who cares? It’s a hypothetical. We don’t hire presidents to risk their lives fighting crime.

The far more important question (covered by some) is how hard he will push the Hill do act on his gun proposals.

The president repeated his determination to ban bump stocks. He said again that the country needs “very strong” background checks (“If I see a sicko, I don’t want him having a gun”) and to reform mental institutions.

Trump continues to talk about arming trained teachers and others in school, although the other day he indicated that would be up to the states, which would mean no federal action.

But as some journalists pointed out, Trump did not mention his plan to raise the age limit on buying assault-style weapons like the AR-15 from 18 to 21. He said last week that the NRA would go along, but the group continues to oppose the idea. So is the president backing off?

In disclosing that he had lunch with top NRA officials, Trump told the governors “they’re on our side.” But he also said, “If they’re not with you, we have to fight them every once in a while. That’s OK.” (Sarah Sanders said yesterday her boss still supports raising age limits on some guns.)

If Trump, a vocal defender of the Second Amendment, does go up against the NRA, that would show a different kind of courage than running into a building under siege by a gunman.

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Brussels hatches anti-Brexit plot to target young Rejoiners in Britain – leaked document

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EU CHIEFS have drawn up plans to target Rejoiners in Britain with special outreach campaigns, Express.co.uk can reveal.

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Looking ahead, liberal groups try to keep young voters engaged

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WASHINGTON — At 17 years old, Lily Gardner, didn’t feel she had a choice but to get involved with politics, but she’s not betting that the world will keep pushing young people to become political.

“My generation on the whole is being forced at an early age to grapple with issues like the climate crisis, like systemic gun violence,” said Gardner, who lives in Kentucky. “That has forced us on the whole to become politicized.”

She couldn’t join the older members of her generation who voted in November at historically high levels. But she’s working to keep young people engaged as the Kentucky coordinator for the climate-focused Sunrise Movement, working on using grassroots groups to talk to young people instead of “political entities swooping in at convenient times.”

Democrats have historically been more successful when young people show up — 65 percent of voters under 24 backed President Joe Biden, according to exit polls. And instead of waiting until the next election — or hoping a figure like Donald Trump emerges to get young people involved — liberal groups are trying to keep the country’s youngest voters engaged.

By the next presidential election, millennials will be entering their 40s, showing up to vote with kids instead of the youthful enthusiasm that helped Democrats in the 2010s.

The focus on young voters has turned to Generation Z.

It won’t be easy. Young people have always voted in lower numbers than their older cohorts. And with the oldest president in history sitting in the Oval Office, convincing them that the president and the party see their issues could be difficult.

The largest turnout of young people since the voting age was lowered to 18 — 52 percent to 55 percent of voters ages 18 to 29 — voted in the November election, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement at Tufts University estimates.

“As a country, we can do so much more to support young people to participate in democracy more than we do,” said Abby Keisa, the research center’s director of impact. She said the data found “that communities where young people vote, volunteer, help their neighbors and belong to groups or associations can be more prosperous and resilient places.”

Finding young people

Bushra Amiwala was 19 years old when she lost her first political campaign. Six months later, she ran again and won.

Amiwala thinks candidates and organizers like her are adapting to talk to young people.

“The way that we campaign is a huge testament to the shift that young people have been able to bring to the table,” said Amiwala, 23, who is a member of a school board in Chicago. “Social media is something that predominantly is used by young people, and mobilizing folks on there is something that, I think, is a tactic that young people championed and coined.”

But finding first-time voters can be tricky, because they often aren’t registered to vote and therefore aren’t on the rolls traditional political organizations use to find people.

Finding young voters of color, who face other systemic barriers to participation, can be even tougher.

Many of the inequalities and the shortage of civic engagement opportunities for younger people mirror the causes of other inequalities across the country, Keisa said. And unlike some other countries, the U.S. doesn’t have a civic and political framework set up to engage young people.

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That’s why groups like the Sunrise Movement are using other young people to do the outreach.

John Paul Mejia, 18, a spokesperson for the group, said he got involved in politics because “our future is on the line.”

He said blaming younger generations for not being more civically engaged is tired and misplaced.

“If organizations like ours — that actually hear the call of young people and are led by young people — didn’t engage them this electoral cycle, this election might have looked very different,” Mejia said.

‘Seeing through the bull’

Politics doesn’t stop after Election Day, and some organizations are trying to find ways to keep young people informed outside the rush of the political season.

A Starting Point, a video-based civic engagement organization, is trying to bring the politicians to young people in brief, straightforward videos that address policy debates. The videos feature Democrats and Republicans.

“We since found a way to try and demystify some of these issues, to make this arena a little more palatable for some people,” said Chris Evans, a co-founder of A Starting Point, who said about half of the platform’s users are under 24.

A Starting Point is growing the platform by directly connecting with young people through its new partnerships with the Close Up Foundation and Bridge USA. Both organizations work to engage young people in the classroom — discussing voting and civic engagement.

“There are a lot of issues that are ripe for young minds to explore, and again it’s not so much about whether or not the issues are directly affecting them today. It’s about getting them comfortable with it,” Evans said.

Mark Kassen, the other co-founder, said the organization will use its technology and expertise to create lessons for the classroom.

“One of the things that these last handful of election cycles show us is that there are a lot of people that just feel disconnected to the government,” Kassen said.

Groups like Brand New Congress have tried to pair young candidates with efforts to stoke energy among young voters, helping to elect members like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Cori Bush, D-Mo., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

“We’ve got a Congress that does not represent the age makeup of our nation,” said Robb Ryerse, the group’s executive director. Ryerse said the passion of youth is often dismissed as idealism.

But Mejia said idealism is exactly the kind of thing to keep young people engaged.

“Young people are seeing through the bull— right now … whether you’re a candidate who supports people or profit margins,” Mejia said.

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Sturgeon's IndyRef 2 plans rubbished by Gordon Brown 'People have other priorities'

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GORDON BROWN hit out at Nicola Sturgeon for pursuing her Scottish independence referendum hopes during the coronavirus pandemic.

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