Election 2016

We Are Witnessing the Last Election of the 20th Century (Hopefully)

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich-and their parties-are stuck in the past.

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Don't be distracted by the unbelievable clown show that was last night's Republican candidate's debate. Between the penis jokes and the talking-over and mad barking, all that was missing was smashing chairs over each other's head to raise it to the level of the old Morton Downey, Jr. or Geraldo talk shows. Maybe next time.

But the descent into junior-high antics among Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio (John Kasich exempted himself from the worst of it, to his credit as a human being) obscures a larger point, one not just about the Republican candidates but the Democratic ones too: We are witnessing what is hopefully the last election of the 20th century.

None of the remaining candidates has injected anything that can be considered modern or relevant to the challenges we face today as a country, as an economy, as a society. They are doggedly reading from exactly the same playbook that their parties had set in stone by the 1980s (at the very latest). Despite massive changes in technology, communication, globalization, and so much more, it's forever 1993, 1983 or even 1973 for Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Sanders, and Clinton.

Consider the Republicans first. Their basic approach to goosing the economy is to cut taxes and, in unspecified ways, cut regulations (including all those the Republican Party and George W. Bush ushered in earlier in the century). None of them has seriously discussed systematic spending cuts, especially of the old-age entitlement programs such as Medicare, which blow up the federal budget more than anything else. Yes, they all pay lip service to repealing every jot and tittle of Obamacare, but none dares to say that even before that, the federal government was spending close to half of every health-care dollar in the country and that maintaining an unlimited, single-payer health-care system for everyone over 65 (i.e., Medicare) is flatly unsustainable. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has at various points talked about replacing endless streams of money with "premium support" but such a plan is, first, only hypothetical, and second, scheduled to always kick in the year after that other year—you know, that one way, way, way out there on the horizon. When it comes to Social Security, a morally bankrupt program as well as a fiscally bankrupt one, Republicans flipped their wigs when Barack Obama suggested tying cost of living increases to the inflation of goods rather than the inflation of wages

So too, of course, did Democrats (especially Bernie Sanders, who insists we should be expanding Social Security's scope and largress), but they're supposed to act that way, right? There was a time not so very long ago when Republicans or fiscal conservatives more broadly questioned old-age entitlements. Indeed, Ronald Reagan in the early 1960s railed against mandatory Social Security (he suggested it should be a voluntary program) and called Medicare nothing less than "socialized medicine" (which it sort of is). By the end of his time in power, though, he called saving the shaky finances of these big-government programs "the highest priority of my administration" and pushed through the payroll-tax hikes to prove it. Today's GOP remains firmly in that place, coming up with plans to raise taxes and the relatively young and relatively poor in order to maintain benefits for the relatively old and realtively wealthy. Yes, there will be some means-testing and the eligibility age will creep upwards slowly, but the status quo will not just be maintained but celebrated as a Republican accomplishment. Indeed, one of the main Republican arguments against Obamacare was that it would "steal" money from Medicare.

In terms of defense spending, military intervention, and national security issues, only one Republican candidate—Rand Paul—offered a variation from a celebration of hawkishness and elective wars as the very definition of American exceptionalism. Paul was attacked roundly for minor deviations, including the radical idea that the United States need not be involved everywhere around the globe all the time. As last night's debate suggests, there is no room left in the GOP for candidates who would break with the ultra-expensive and utterly disastrous foreign policy in this century we've seen under Republican and Democratic presidents. All the candidates, to varying degrees, pledged boots on the ground, more rockets, boats, battles, you name it. Jimmy Carter's figurative corpse was exhumed (possibly because Obama is, well, pretty interventionist) and kicked around for a while as Reagan was invoked as a shining city on a hill or something. When it comes to a surveillance state, consider the uniform affirmative answers to whether Apple should unlock its products whenever the state demands it. Of course, they all say (as does Hillary Clinton). Of course, Edward Snowden is a traitor (Clnton agrees on this too), less because of what he might have given to foreign governments (there's no evidence that he's done anything of the sort) and more because he showed the government to be lying to its citizens. 

When it comes to social issues—"culture war" issues, conservatives sometimes call them—the GOP is the party of the past. John Kasich, the least gargoylish (?) of the GOP candidates last night, couldn't simply admit that being anti-gay is kind of fucked-up or that the debate over same-sex marriage is over. Republicans are quick to paint the refusal to follow or expand anti-discrimination laws as a case of "religious freedom," but would any of them defend a baker not serving blacks or Latinos because the government has declared businesses a "public accommodation"? There may be indeed be a libertarian principle involved in all this—nobody should be forced to do business with anyone if they don't want to—but it is impossible to escape the conclusion that lots of conservative Republicans are simply prejudiced against gays. That might be for religious reasons or psychological reasons or whatever, and they might even have a First Amendment right to not bake cakes for same-sex weddings. But let's be honest: Being weirded out by homosexuality is so last century. The same goes for things like pot legalization, the last stand of the drug war which has been an offense against individual rights that has corrupted countless law enforcement agents over the years and perverted everything from prison sentences to foreign policy to education. Like some Japanese infantryman left on a Pacific island for decades after World War II, the GOP soldiers on under Just Say Noorders issued by Nancy Reagan while sitting in Mr. T's lap.

And then there is immigration, which has become for conservatives and Republicans the litmus-test issue that abortion once was. To be a legitimate conservative these days, you must be against immigrants, legal and illegal. Indeed, one of the great sticking points for Donald Trump is his supposed softness on the issue (despite his declarations in favor of mass deportations and 45-foot or 50-foot walls on the country's southern border). National Review, the flagship conservative journal, has been overtly hostile to immigrants since the 1990s; rarely does a kind word about immigrants appear in its pages. Where Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush once famously debated just how important illegal immigrants were to the U.S. economy (seriously: watch this if you haven't seen it yet), Republicans are now wedded to impenetrable border-control and work-permit schemes that went out of fashion with the collapse of the German Democratic Republic.

Watching last night's debate was thus appalling on multiple levels, but especially for the simple fact that it might just have well taken place 20, 30, or even 40 years ago. Yes, Donald Trump has brought something new to contemporary politics, especially on the Republican side. But no, new ideas and approaches to governance are not among the things he carries. The Republican Party, for all its success at winning gerrymandered House districts and controlling state legislatures and governors' mansions (where politics are less ideological and more pragmatic), is like a classic rock band that is playing hokier and hokier tunes to smaller and smaller crowds. Sensing this, the candidates for president are fighting onstage for more time in the shrinking spotlight. The one thing they won't do—can't do—is start writing new tunes that might connect with a world that has moved on without them

Virtually all of the above can (and should) be directed at the Democrats, too. They too are old and wizened (their two remaining candidates have more than 140 years of wisdom between them!). But they are sad and pathetic in ways specific to themselves, too.

Like the Occupy Movement he draws some strength from, Bernie Sanders is an emanation of old-style class-warfare that has never played well in America (even in the Depression, for christ's sake) because the simple fact is that life is relatively good for most people here, at least in material terms. Sanders has already defined himself downward from a socialist to a social democrat but all he really is a redistrubitionist on steroids. Apparently unaware that the federal budget is already overwhelmingly spent on transfer payments of one sort or another (sometimes called entitlements), he wants to, what, increase the percentage from 66 percent of the budget to 85 percent or maybe 90 percent?

College should be free, well, because free is good. Never mind that average in-state tuition and fees at four-year schools come to about $9,400 a year before any financial aid is given (grants, loans, discounts) or that the 36 percent of households headed by 20-to-40 year-olds that have college loans has a median debt total of just $8,500 (or that the median borrower has consistently spent just 3 to 4 percent of their monthly income on loan payments for the past 25 years). The federal government actually spends more on welfare programs—about $700 billion a year—than it does on defense ($600 billion). Maybe that next $100 billion will be the game-changer, right?

Like Trump, Sanders is keying into a widespread fear and anxiety that the "system" or the "game" is rigged. His answer, which is older than he is himself, is to promise to rig the game the right way. You'll get everything you want and need, he tells people, and we'll make the "billionaires" pay for it all. And by billionaires, of course, he means all of us. We already cannot pay for our current spending without taking on more debt, which ultimately correlates with slower economic growth. Even progressive economists have pointed out that Sanders' plans are not just expensive but flat-out unaffordable.

There is, at last, Hillary Clinton, whose debate performances have revolved around her resume, which is indeed long and varied. Her achievements, on the other hand, are less inspiring and she is running openly as a continuation of Barack Obama's presidency. Obama seems himself stuck in the past, in a time when American liberals still had cultural, policy, and intellectual inferiority complexes regarding Europe. He instinctively reaches for a Euro-state '74 solution to whatever ails us and his faith in bureaucrats is almost charming. Assuming an easy ascent to the Democratic nomination, Clinton spent the early part of her campaign both conducting a national "listening tour" and reintroducing herself to an American public despite having been first lady for eight years, a senator for eight years, and secretary of state for four.

Out of all the candidates, Democratic or Republican, Clinton is arguably the most centrist on economic issues, though she has tacked left to step on Sanders' toes. Hence, she eventually came out against the Keystone XL pipeline and dissed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which she promoted as secretary of state). But as senator from New York (or as she sometimes like to say, "Wall Street"), she is no stranger to market forces, even as she unconvincingly claims that the financial sector is scared of her. While representing the Empire State, for instance, she routinely put through patches for the alternative minimum tax, which hits high-income individuals living in the New York metro area. Alas for those of us who see a need for a different foreign policy, Clinton is centrist when it comes to military intervention. Which is to say that she is "an urepentant warmonger" who still refuses to admit that things went poorly during her tenure at State and, in fact, for most of this century.

To say she brings no new vision to economic or foreign policy isn't to say she isn't dragging old baggage everwhere she goes. As Matt Welch wrote in a recent Reason cover story, Clinton has been remarkably predictable when it comes to regulating speech and technology

She has consistently backed government intrusions into communications devices, from content-filtering V-chips on television sets to anti-encryption back doors on iPhones. She has established as her litmus test for Supreme Court nominees a commitment to overturn 2010's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which a 5–4 majority overturned on grounds that "the censorship we now confront is vast in its reach" a federally enforced cable TV ban of a documentary film attacking a certain politician named Hillary Rodham Clinton. Several other laws that Clinton championed, including the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), were opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and struck down by the Supreme Court as violations of the First Amendment. And she has grasped the flimsiest reeds of evidence to lay at least partial blame on artistic expression for everything from playground fighting styles to the Columbine massacre to, most infamously, the murder of four U.S. personnel in Libya.

Perhaps all we need to know about the two remaining Democratic candidates for president is that each relentlessly attacks Uber, the ride-sharing system that has revolutionized not just taxi service but changed the way we think about personal transportation. In this sort of reflexive dismissal of the new, they are not so different from their Republican counterparts, who are similarly quick to denounce developments that they find appalling.

Does anyone doubt we need a new operating system for politics? Even amidst a bad-to-awful economy (caused in no small part to government action), the quality of lives are improving. We are able to live more like we choose, and we are more able to choose who we want to be. The world is never short of problems, but we have never been so rich with solutions and the ability to figure our ways out of the boxes we've built in our personal lives, our cultural lives, our work lives. As Edward Snowden recently told Reason, "The individual is more powerful today than they have ever been in the past." No wonder that Republican and Democratic candidates are so nervous, so jumpy, so mired in a past when politics controlled more of our lives and mattered more to us.

We are not evacuating politics because there are not political problems to solve. We are leaving politics—especially as defined by the Republicans and Democrats—behind because we can, just like we left the broadcast networks and the Big Three automakers and the Top 40 as soon as we could. Everywhere but our politics, things are getting better.

If there's anything to be hopeful about after watching last night's debate, it's that we are witnessing the implosion of one of the major parties. Its fracture may provide the occasion for all of us to not just contemplate a different set of politics but to insist on a way of thinking about the present that isn't overwhelmed by the failures of the past.

NEXT: The Biggest Sex-Trafficking Bust in FBI History Was Totally Bogus

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  1. This piece reminds me of complaint you hear from time to time: “How can people still think this way? It’s 2016”, as if human stupidity has an expiration date.

    1. Or the world forever progresses towards a more free future. The world has often regressed into less free states. And most of humanity has been tribal in its thinking for all of history. The new internationalist man operating above borders is no more likely to arise than the new socialist man working for the collective.

      1. Rothbard had a good critique of the Whig theory of history (and science ftm) which suggested things were always improving

      2. And most all of humanity has been tribal in its thinking for all of history.

        Personally, I think this is more accurate.

        1. Your kind WOULD say that.

    2. It is the current year.

      1. But, sadly, its still populated by the same old people.

  2. I’m really excited about our libertarian future.

    1. Yes. Nothing like pot legalization and — is it Fair Tax? – to mobilize the hedge funds and the disenchanted electorate and carry us into the future.

  3. How can anyone look at what is going on in Europe now and conclude that open borders are the politics of the future? If there is anything that is going to end in the future it is the idea of open borders and these huge integrated supra national areas like the EU. The future is going to be a return to nationalism and local sovereignty.

    That of course a very bad thing from the transnatonalist Libertarian perspective. It is, however, good or bad reality.

    1. Short term, you are correct.

      Long term, you are insanely wrong.

      1. Like Tundra said above , its a cycle. But with increased freedom of movement at each peak. For the short term, we are in a decreasing part of the cycle.

        Like with global temp. We may be a short term warming, but the next ice age will win out.

      2. I guess it depends on how you define “long term”. And since a situation of open borders and freedom has never really existed or if it did hasn’t for a long time.

        I feel pretty confident that whatever the “long term” is that I am insanely wrong about is well past my lifetime.

        1. I was thinking short term as 10-50 years.

          1. Oh ok – so long-term is when we are all dead.

            That’s the best sort of central planning – when we decide what the world of our grandchildren will look like and they have no choice in the matter.

      3. Long term, you are insanely wrong.

        I don’t think so, myself. People are fundamentally territorial and tribal animals. They will have turf, and they will defend that turf, and they will be suspicious of outsiders. “A world without borders” is a utopian fantasy.

        And not even a good one, IMO.

        1. Agreed. How any libertarian can fantasize that you can have open borders without some unelected bureaucracy like the EU ascending and removing more and more of your freedoms is beyond me. It’s not like we’re ever going to have this wonderful, care free world where everyone can go wherever he or she wants and we all sing kumbayah.

          The US is supposed to take an unlimited number of Mexicans, many of whom freely admit to coming here for the benefits staunch libertarians profess to despise, yet I can end up in a nasty Mexican jail for god knows how long for trying the same thing in reverse. I guess the US really does have some moral obligation to ignore our laws instead of doing the hard work of changing them if people disagree.

    2. Pat Buchanan has been playing that tune for as long as I remember and yet the sky is still where it’s always been.

      1. It doesn’t seem to be still there in Europe. The EU is finished and there is a political revolution going on over the migrant flow.

        1. So immigrants are destroying Europe by…provoking unreasonable panic in the natives?

          1. Are the natives “panicing”? I’m not seeing that.

          2. No. They are destroying the EU and ending the delusion that you could create a super state run by bureaucrats. What is happening in Europe is the public reasserting nationalism. And good or bad, it is the absolute opposite of what reason considers the politics of the future.

            1. With the exception of Hungary and Poland, no nationalist have won elections. There’s a bit of fear mongering when we hear that the EU is about to elect the New Nazi party. It hasn’t happened yet.

              The EU will likely implode but it will be because of economic issues more than social ones.

              As Thatcher said, the problem with socialism is that you run out of other peoples money. That’s happened. The welfare state as they know it is over.

              1. With the exception of Hungary and Poland, no nationalist have won elections

                Give it time. And even if they don’t, it will only be because the existing parties become more nationalist to reflect public opinion.

                And while those issues you list are certainly part of the reason the EU is going to break up, the trigger for it breaking up is the migrant crisis. It is entirely possible that the EU would have staggered on despite its unpopularity had the migrant crisis not occurred. It is the migrant crisis that has caused the European public to conclude the EU can no longer go on.

                One way or another, open borders are finished in Europe. Given that, I can’t see how you can say that open borders and free trade are the politics of the future. They appear to be the politics of the past.

                1. Watch the Brexit vote and accompanying shenanigans.

                  I think that will be where the disconnect of the transnational elites and their lumpen subjects will be highlighted in a big way in the near term.

                  Keep in mind, also, that at this point nationalists are the outsiders, trying to break into a tightly controlled system. The fact they lose elections doesn’t necessarily mean they lack broad support; it could just mean the the transnational elites retain enough control to keep control.

              2. Immigration is playing into that too. When natives are going without so the government can provide bennies for xenos, it hurts political support for globalist socialism.

              3. The welfare state as they know it is over.

                Precisely. So let’s hurry up and bring as many illegal immigrants in so they can sign up for welfare benefits. Oh, no, wait…I forgot that they give us something on the order of one tenth of one percent economic growth. Nevermind. That’ll make up for all the Bernie Sanders types having a permanent underclass to elect them from now until rapture.

                1. The idea that illegal immigrants come over for welfare falls into the category of dated arguments Nick’s article talks about. The numbers just aren’t there. It is obvious why many native born Americans think that is what they are doing, as a native born person is much more likely to stop (or never start) working to get those entitlements, and project that tendency onto undocumented aliens. But the sad fact is that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants come to work, and picking pears or flipping burgers isn’t something native born Americans are willing to do apparently.

    3. Yes. It’s the libertarian open borders types who are stuck in the past. “Immigration was good in the past, so it always will be!” The concepts of marginal utility and supply and demand never seem to get applied here. But guess what? More is not always better, and more labor drives down wages. Plus, the issues of a broke welfare state, the downsides of multiculturalism, and the fact that one particular religion is at war with the world and planning to take it over.

      1. Or maybe utilitarian concerns arent considered at all.

        My arguments for freedomof movement are entirely deontological.

      2. The concepts of marginal utility and supply and demand never seem to get applied here.

        Why would libertarians apply those ideas to immigration policy?

        1. They could be consequentialists.

          1. They could be consequentialists, but not ones interested in maximizing liberty.

            1. You could say the same about natural-rights deontological libertarians with vague statements like that though.

              1. (I’m assuming you’re joking around by using ideas like “maximizing” here as a critique)

      3. “Marginal utility” and “supply and demand” for who? For you? You think that’s the right way to look at immigration? How do I benefit from immigration, how does the State benefit from immigration, not how does the immigrant benefit from immigration? That’s pretty fucked up.

        1. “”Marginal utility” and “supply and demand” for who? For you? You think that’s the right way to look at immigration? How do I benefit from immigration, how does the State benefit from immigration, not how does the immigrant benefit from immigration? That’s pretty fucked up.”

          Couldn’t this argument be used to justify welfare and all sorts of non-libertarian things? (I’m not saying it’s a poor argument just looking at it’s potential)

      4. Why, yes, certainly! Juche is clearly the wave of the future. None of that ridiculous immigration or international trade nonsense to interfere in our path to a glorious future in the path our Dear Leader!

      5. More labor can only drive down the cost of labor in the short term (18 to 24 months maximum) or if you increase the ratio of workers to non workers.

        This is because those additional laborers are also additional consumers so more labor also means more production and more sales and therefore more income to spread around.

        The actual risk from completely open immigration actually has little to do with jobs but rather prices in capital goods with very long lead times to increase the stock of, primarily roads but also certain consumables like clean water, energy, and fuel.

        If America just dropped all immigration restrictions tomorrow and in the next year 50 million immigrated here the jobs issue would be sorted out quickly and while there might be a short term dip in wages by the end of the following year wages would be back in line with where they are now. On the other hand it will take us more than a decade to build housing for 50 million immigrants and 20 years or more to build sufficient new electric power plants, waste water treatment plants, oil refining capacity, and roads to meet the needs of those 50 million new people.

        1. Now normally you would say the invisible hand of the free market would then convince most of those people to return home but in this case there are other considerations beyond just financial ones and the majority would stay because of the political freedom that is simply lacking in their prior homelands.

          So yes, completely unlimited immigration to the US has the potential to be a disaster, but the “Deyre Steelin ar jerbs” claims are just the fears of economic ignoramuses who know that they don’t actually have any usable skills to offer on the job market.

          1. One other important note.

            On the job front immigration is utterly irrelevant because american workers are already in direct competition with any potential immigrants for their jobs. Whether those people actually come here or stay there changes nothing.

            1. This is a point that needs to be better understood.

              I think you are overstating a little, Rasilio, because there are other factors at work. Nonetheless, multinationals can choose between bringing workers here, or taking the factory there. Ultimately, preserving jobs against foreign competition would require capital controls.

            2. That assumes that the only thing in play is the local labor force. Once upon a time, you could argue that the legal climate in America would tip the scales in our favor.

          2. “”Deyre Steelin ar jerbs” claims are just the fears of economic ignoramuses”

            The stealing jobs argument is not nearly as compelling as the other one – that they’re signing up for entitlement benefits and, not only avoiding income tax, they’re receiving “earned income” credit. I have yet to see anyone (libertarian or not) who can point to a reputable study that demonstrates that the supposed boost to our economy from illegal immigration outweighs the current and future burdens of the benefits and those who push them getting elected forever.

        2. This is because those additional laborers are also additional consumers so more labor also means more production and more sales and therefore more income to spread around.

          On a small scale, I’m sure you are right.

          On a large scale, I’m not so sure. We’ve been reading how the British economy has been importing lots of workers, and the British workers are taking it in the ass. And have been for much longer than 18 – 24 months.

        3. If those workers save up their money and remit it to their home country, then they aren’t necessarily contributing to consumption, at least not fully.

    4. How can anyone look at what is going on in Europe now and conclude that open borders are the politics of the future?

      I missed that part of the article. Where does it imply that open borders are the politics of the future?

      1. Shh. It’s one of those days where everything has to tie back to immigration policy.

      2. And then there is immigration, which has become for conservatives and Republicans the litmus-test issue that abortion once was. To be a legitimate conservative these days, you must be against immigrants, legal and illegal. Indeed, one of the great sticking points for Donald Trump is his supposed softness on the issue (despite his declarations in favor of mass deportations and 45-foot or 50-foot walls on the country’s southern border). National Review, the flagship conservative journal, has been overtly hostile to immigrants since the 1990s; rarely does a kind word about immigrants appear in its pages. Where Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush once famously debated just how important illegal immigrants were to the U.S. economy (seriously: watch this if you haven’t seen it yet), Republicans are now wedded to impenetrable border-control and work-permit schemes that went out of fashion with the collapse of the German Democratic Republic.

        Is that not in the version you are reading? Or do you think it is saying closed borders are part of the future?

        1. Are “open borders” the only alternative to being “against immigrants, legal and illegal”?

          1. If you take reason at its word, yes. For example, Trump says that he wants to admit more legal immigrants. He just wants to stop the flow of illegal ones. Yet, he is still help of as the exemplar of the politics of the past. So, I don’t see how anything short of open borders is acceptable.

            1. For example, Trump says that he wants to admit more legal immigrants.

              You sure about that?

              1. Yes. I am. I have heard him say it.

                1. Did you also hear his people walk it back bout 15 minutes later? Because that’s what happened last night.

                  1. “Did you also hear his people walk it back about 15 minutes later?”

                    I love how so many Reason rats tell is that we’re supposed to hate Trump and take everything he says on the campaign trail as gospel…until it suits their argument to point out that he walked back a comment.

                    This is all campaign trail BS. He’s not going to nuke people, he’s not going to impose a 45% tariff on the Chinese, and he’s not going to round up the Mexicans. What he WILL do, which is long overdue, will be to shake up the orthodoxies (Republican, PC, etc).

    5. I can’t believe Nick deliberately brought Germany into a border discussion.

      And Nick, being uncomfortable about gays is so last century? I have a feeling a lot of Western gays are going to wish they were living in the late 20th century once they get a dose of the 7th century thanks to your open borders.

      1. Nick totally reads religious Muslims out of the future. They will have no influence on the politics of immigration or how society views gays.

        In some ways it is profoundly racist. If you are a religious Muslim reading Nick’s article you can reasonably conclude that Nick is saying you have no place in the future. Nick of course doesn’t believe that. He just avoids the issue by pretending it doesn’t exist. Nick and really the entire reason staff cannot account for the existence of religious Muslims. So, they pretend there is no such thing and that “Muslim” is a racial characteristic rather than a set of beliefs and a culture.

        1. You seem to think that Islam not only will not change, but is incapable of changing. It wasn’t so long ago that the pendulum in much of the Middle East was away from ultra-conservative expressions of Islam – many of which are longstanding cultural proclivities that keep surfacing from time to time, proclivities that date from pagan times.

          1. You seem to think that Islam not only will not change, but is incapable of changing.

            I don’t think that. It can and likely will change. I see no reason why it will necessarily change for the better or even if it did it would change into something that fits with Nick’s vision of the future.

            Islam is much more regressive today that it was even 30 years ago. In the 1970s, even in places like Afghanistan or Egypt, head scarfs were something old bitties wore. Now Muslim women wear them or worse even in places like Turkey or the West.

            Muslim countries, even progressive ones like Indonesia or Turkey are much more oppressive today than they were in the 1970s. Worse, the converts in the west tend to be the most radical. Maybe this trend will reverse but I don’t see any reason to say it will with any authority.

            A more Muslim world is likely to be a more intolerant world, especially when compared to the “we love gays and trannies and thing those who don’t are wierd” world that Nick thinks will be the future.

            1. There is that. Its a fallacy to think that any future evolution of Islam will be more Western/liberal.

              Look at pictures of MENA after WWII through the 60s. It looks a lot more Western and liberal than it does now. The Islamic Reformation that everybody pines for may actually be Wahhabism and fundamentalism. That’s certainly been the trajectory for the past generation or two.

              1. Religions that give up their ideals and evolve towards western liberal ideals, die. Look at what has happened to the mainline Protestant Churches? They all got liberal and accepting and people stopped going to them. People don’t join religions to taught relativism. They join religions to get answers. And uncompromising religions do that. Mushy “everyone is wonderful” religions don’t.

                1. Socialism is death, period. For the soul, or truth and science, for enterprise, for culture, for basic survival and reproduction.

                2. That’s an interesting take. Care to expound on that more?

                  Note: not /sarc

            2. “Islam is much more regressive today that it was even 30 years ago. In the 1970s, even in places like Afghanistan or Egypt, head scarfs were something old bitties wore.”

              That is because Islam was kept at bay by brutal secular dictators like the Shah and Saddam Hussein. Islam has always been a backwards culture. Note that I do not call it a religion, because it’s much more than that. It’s a complete system of life (politics, education, economics, law, communication) and it’s all informed by a religion not known for its tolerance of other beliefs or customs.

              Islam has always been the way it is now. Are ther exceptions? Sure, but mostly they’re Muslims who were born and/or raised in the west. I don’t see the same tolerance of our way of life in a lot of the people flooding Europe. And I don’t want to wait 3 generations for them to start wanting to change. I’ll be dead by then and my children and grandchildren may still be dealing with the problem.

  4. [Insert “Libertarian Moment” joke here]

    1. You can make it last longer if you think about baseball.

  5. “…the level of the old Morton Downey, Jr. or Geraldo talk shows.”

    I was thinking more like professional wrestling. Maybe it’s time to go full Idiocracy and draft Jesse Ventura as a third party candidate.

    1. Just wait until Honey Boo Boo grows up.

    2. He said if Sanders loses he wants to run for the Libertarian party. He had a Che Guavara shirt on when he made the announcement.

  6. You know how people who love WWE wrestling don’t really give a shit when you tell them it’s all fake scripted showmanship? Yeah, it’s like that. People just want a good guy to root for and a bad guy to hate. There really isn’t more to politics than that.

    1. “Let’s go Trump!, Trump sucks!”

    2. Pro wrestling is a soap operas for men, NTTAWWT.

      1. My 5’7″ 98 lb son has dreams of being a pro wrestler one day. It’s pretty funny.

        1. There’s always Lucha.

        2. I was about that build through high school. The wrestling team really wanted me to join, I would have been one of three or four people in the class, and was 6 feet tall.

      2. Comic books are soap operas for men.

    3. They do not give a shit because they know what it is and that is what they want. It is a live action soap opera for guys and not even really pretending to be an actual sport.

      1. You weenies need to know your goddamned roles!

        Austin 3:16.

  7. You know how people who love WWE wrestling don’t really give a shit when you tell them it’s all fake scripted showmanship? Yeah, it’s like that. People just want a good guy to root for and a bad guy to hate. There really isn’t more to politics than that.

    1. HA! I squirreled my own post.

      SUCK IT SQUIRRELS!

  8. Aren’t “open borders” a 19th century thing though (not completely, of course), is the future retro? (eternal return, flat circle…)

  9. This election is the globalists v. the non-globalist. If you support globalization (the various “free” trade agreements, immigration, international organizations like the UN and their various pet causes (global warming) then you’re a globalist. If you’re protected from the consequences of globalization (you have a public sector union job, are an academic or highly educated, or are the beneficiary of transfer payments) then you’re a globalist. If you’re an immigrant legal or otherwise or employ immigrants legal or otherwise then you’re a globalist.

    Nick has lost the thread.

    1. What if you don’t support free trade agreements, the UN, or the protectionist welfare state, but believe that the global economy is a great thing on balance even if it hurts some people economically in the short term?

      1. Then you’re just an asshole.

        (So, basically most people here.)

      2. Then your suffering from some significant cognitive dissonance because your world view doesn’t jive with what is possible in the current political climate.

        1. I’ll just point out that all the disagreement between various libertarian factions fall into the paradigm. Cosmos like globalization and support it. Yokels dislike it. The same is true for factions within the major parties. Red state Republicans like welfare, guns, God and hate immigrants. RINO’s give lip-service to those beliefs but are basically Rockefeller Republicans at heart. Some Dems hate the evil corporations and multi-nationals while loving the brown people. Clinton Dems are in the bag for Goldman Sachs.

          Think Britain exiting the EU; Think white flight; It’s all about EXIT. Or, as a libertarian should term it – free association.

          It’s the same breakdown across party lines – include libertarian.

          It is the conflict of the 21st century and Nick missed it completely.

      3. What if you don’t support free trade agreements, the UN, or the protectionist welfare state,

        If I had a free trade agreement to support, I would.

        The UN is a cancerous excrescence on the world body politic.

        I despise the welfare state, but I don’t think you can have open borders and a welfare state. Get rid of the welfare state, and I will personally drive the bulldozer that takes down Border Patrol checkpoints.

        I believe any free market economy is a great thing on balance and will hurt some people economically in the short term. What we lack, especially globally, is a free market. Ask yourself if a global crony capitalist economy is a great thing on balance, etc., and see if your answer changes.

        1. Agreed on all points.

    2. I never figured you for a locovore, Lady B.

      1. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. I’m unprincipled in that way.

        1. What do they grow in NJ that is edible, though?

          1. We are aren’t called the Garden State for no reason. Do you people even have a growing season in the wilds of NH?

            1. No, like the Inuit, we subsist on raw fish, dried bear meat, and a few tundra berries during the summer solstice.

              1. What a healthy diet! No carbs or processed foods!

  10. “we are witnessing the implosion of one of the major parties”

    That may be true, but i don’t think its the one Nick thinks it is.

    I think the GOP is ‘changing’ (painfully, ugly, crying and screaming about it), while the Dems are actually the ones fragmenting while trying to pretend that its all going to be OK

    1. re: ‘evidence of implosion

    2. Could it be because somewhere deep in the GOP there is still a little bit of principle worth worrying about ?

      1. Political parties are just coalitions of different constituent interest groups. I don’t even know what your comment about “principle” means in context. Politics and ‘principles’ mix like Ice Cream and Asphalt.

        My point was that growth in turnout suggests that the GOP coalition is expanding, while the Dem coalition is shrinking.

        1. Ah. I misunderstood.

          I was thinking how if you have even a shred of principle left, there is some pain when things change. While the Dems are so far gone, what difference at this point does it make.

          1. “if you have even a shred of principle left, there is some pain when things change.”

            Political parties don’t “have” ideals so much as use them as marketing to keep their constituents together. when they stop working in that regard, they’re exchanged for new ones.

            The argument made in the previous thread was that Dems have effectively abandoned much of the ‘actual’ middle class. e.g.

            “Contemporary liberal Democrats are an alliance of educated, successful, self-actualized, urban professional elites…, ethnic- and race-based, often corrupt, urban political machines…, and the disenfranchised urban poor. … The New Liberalism has redifined liberal progressive politics from self-help on the part of citizens to charity for the disadvantaged “victim” groups performed by affluent liberal elites….. Fred Siegel calls this “the coalition of the overeducated and the undereducated.””

            The big-middle has been mostly ignored (while pandered to) by Dems. The GOP also neglected the anti-ideological middle by being too SoCon, and ineffectual on economic policy.

            People act surprised that ‘non-conservative Trump’ is winning such a large share of the GOP vote only because they fooled themselves into thinking that “most” of the GOP cared about those ‘conservative’ principles in the first place. He’s shed stuff that is less important (jesus, anti-gay) and sticks with what works (economic populism)

    3. If what we are seeing with Trump is the beginning of an exodus of white, working/middle class voters from the Dems, they may be the ones who are on the verge of implosion.

      They have been reduced in recent years to a barely-more-than-regional party that has held onto the White House. That’s not a strong base to build from.

      1. “If what we are seeing with Trump is the beginning of an exodus of white, working/middle class voters from the Dems, they may be the ones who are on the verge of implosion.”

        That’s sort of what i’m saying, but it needn’t be that monolithic or limited.

        ie. it doesn’t have to be “All ‘white working class’…etc. it can just be a fraction of the ‘big middle’ – which is a wide range of people who are not included the above-described “contemporary liberal constituencies”.

        And they’re not going to “switch to being republicans”, because the republican party is still far too culturally tied to a bunch of bullshit people don’t like. But they WILL vote for Trump and in the process help replace the old GOP with something more like a Jacksonian Populist party which exists in opposition to the Coastal Elites + Urban Machine politics of the Dems.

    4. Anyone who wants to shake things up on the Democrat side is going to have to have Trump’s lack of concern for being called a racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist, ableist, cisgendered jerk. All I see over there are jelly-spined buffoons like Martin O’Malley apologizing for saying all lives matter.

      It’ll take much longer for the Democrats to come to terms with their obsolescence than the it has for the Rebublicans.

  11. Nick Gillespie in 2020 when President Hillary Clinton is opposed by a Republican whose nativism makes Trump’s look mild by comparison–or (less likely) when President Trump is opposed by a Democrat to the left of Bernie Sanders: “OK, so *this* is the last election of the twentieth century. …”

    1. All we can know for sure is that it will be the most important election ever.

    2. 2024: Time to inject some fresh blood into politics. Vote Chelsea.

      1. Chelsea vs Jenna or Barbara?

        1. Not even close. Jenna or Barbara. Chelsea’s been porking up, and looking more like Webb Hubbell every day.

          Oh, you mean in an election?

        2. Sophia Loren

          The country will grow.

      2. 2024: Time to inject some fresh blood into politics. Kill a chicken. They are very funny for a few minutes with their heads cut off.

  12. If 21st century politics means Thunderdome, I’m for it.

    Full speed ahead! A glorious future awaits.

    1. My representatives must be willing to tear out and eat the still-beating hearts of their opponents.

  13. Oh, goody. More nativist fearmongering.

  14. More is not always better, and more labor drives down wages.

    FEEL THE BERN!

  15. What a great picture. Kasich and Rubio are trying to look comfortable, but Kasich is obviously uptight and Rubio doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Donald actually does look comfortable, but with a mix of nerdy and curmudgeonly. Cruz looks like the unpopular kid posing in his Mom’s full length mirror for his only daily dose of self-confidence.

    1. He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and gosh darn it people like him.

    2. Alt text: “Hey guys. We killed it tonight. These people are eating it up!”

  16. “you must be against immigrants, legal and illegal” Come on you fuck your article was fine till you ruined it with this typical anti-republican lie about republicans being against legal immigration. I have not heard of anyone against legal controlled immigration. Its always the lies of every group republican democrat or libertarians that makes people want to be independent.

    1. I have not heard of anyone against legal controlled immigration.

      Guess you didn’t watch last night’s debate.

      1. Maybe they’ve changed since but I recall them (or some of them, at least) supporting Rubio’s reform.

    2. Err go talk to about 2/3rds of the Republicans I know

  17. Who’s Bernie Sanders?

    Is he another person who’s not going to get to be president?

      1. My guess is that Comrade Hillary is the next one, followed by whatever VP her superdelegates pick.

  18. As soon as we give up the welfare state, I’ll be all for open borders.

  19. Why do we think future elections will be better? While I’m not an election scholar, the elections of previous presidents, while not friendly debates like often portrayed, did involve debate on issues far more. I don’t see any reason to believe we are moving in the right direction.

    Bush v. Gore didn’t seem bad (but I wasn’t old enough to vote).
    Bush v. Kerry was mostly “he’s a flip flopper”/”he’s a lackey for the rich”
    Obama v. McCain was mostly “hope and change”
    Obama v. Romney was mostly “Romney’s an evil 1%er and binders full of women LOL”
    This one so far has been “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN/TAKE ALL THE MONIES”

    1. Women in binders? I’m generally not into S&M but I would like to see the pics.

  20. like a classic rock band that is playing hokier and hokier tunes to smaller and smaller crowds

    The Rolling Stones are going to Cuba.

    Oh. Wait. I see what you mean.

    1. They still sell out stadiums. And so do a lot of other “classic rock” bands.

      1. Yes. But they still fall for “socialist paradise” which they have to subsidize.

        1. Sure, but so does Reason. When Obama said he was going to life the travel ban, reason fell all over themselves about the joys of visiting Cuba.

  21. Nick makes the assumption that religion will diminish in the future. I think that is utterly delusional. To believe that is true you have to believe that people can find meaning in themselves alone or can find meaning in some kind of a cult of tolerance and individuality. That is just not how most people are wired. If anything religion is going to be more important in the future as people increasingly become more and more dissatisfied with modern life and the religion of the self.

    I am not saying they are all going to go and become good Baptists. Sadly, we would lucky if they did. They are more likely going to find meaning by joining all sorts of extreme and intolerant groups. If you look at the people who actually become suicide bombers, for example. They are not poor, oppressed people striking out against the evils of imperialism or whatever. They are usually middle class and often highly educated and very much ‘integrated’ into modern society. Muhamad Atta was an engineer for example. They are people drawn to extremism because of the complete lack of meaning and sense of belonging given by the culture that Nick thinks is the future.

    1. I follow Obi Wan. I aspire to Jedihood.

      1. I said the religions of the future would be extreme. I didn’t say they wouldn’t be idiotic.

        1. Well I have studied a LOT of them. I have practiced Voodoo under a Voodoo master Ordun of Chicago – look him up. And the Jedi makes as much sense as any of them.

          “Listen to the Force” is the advice all religions give.

          BTW I was raised Orthodox Jew.

          1. Having to be told what to do is for the undisciplined.

          2. You may have studied them but I am not sure you understood them as well as you think you did.

            1. That is unknowable by you.

      2. Don’t follow Obi Wan. He’s a friggin liar.

    2. The SJW thing is basically a substitute religion.

      1. It is. And a particularly stupid and dangerous one.

        1. But the feeeeeeelz are soooo good!1!1!!!

    3. Once the bottom drops out, people will be getting buzzcuts and marching around for the state, growing cabbage for the state farm, or they’ll get religion again.

  22. A failure to celebrate hawkishness leads to decline. England 1945 on. An over celebration can do it too. Germany 1933 to 1945.

    To prove your big stick you have to exercise it. Sucks. But that is the nature of the beast. And humans are nothing if not beastly.

    1. You forgot nasty, brutish and short-fingered.

  23. Indeed, one of the main Republican arguments against Obamacare was that it would “steal” money from Medicare.

    To be fair, Medicare is like the 7th rail of politics. So there’s not cutting it.

    1. That argument is true. I don’t know why reason considers it some kind of illegitimate argument. The argument is that Obamacare takes money from medicare to give it to the poor. I frankly don’t see why the poor are any more entitled to that money than the old people. Reason for some reason thinks that old people are not entitled to object to the money going somewhere else. Apparently only the ideologically pure who demand an end to all government spending have a right to have their views heard.

  24. The same goes for things like pot legalization, the last stand of the drug war

    Can I get a clarification on this? ‘Cause where I live, the drug war is positively entrepreneurial.

    1. he last stand of the drug war

      Does Nick actually believe that legalizing pot will magically get people on board with ending the drug war? If he does, I want to know what drugs he is taking.

      1. Our betters have finally realized that if they give a nod to a ubiquitously used drug that was illegal in law (and stutteringly enforced) but pretty much used everywhere, they can keep the peasants distracted while they tighten the screws in nearly every other area of our lives.

        1. Pretty much. It is the whole “but I have porn and pot” argument that things are getting better. I swear to God some libertarians would agree to chattel slavery if they thought they would get free porn and pot.

          1. The porn is already free. The pot I have to pay for.

            Seriously though. Pot prohibition put a LOT of police state apparatus into being. It is evil.

            Trouble is – legalizing pot will not make that apparatus go away.

            1. Exactly or do anything about the other drugs that continue to be illegal.

            2. Pot prohibition put a LOT of police state apparatus into being. It is evil.

              Most of that apparatus was used for other stuff, though.

              Coke, heroin, pills etc. Especially at the street level. When I compare the number of people I know who smoke pot: lots, with the number of people I personally know who’ve been arrested for it: 0, that to me is a sign that the effort into busting people for it is probably pretty weak– uneven enforcement not withstanding.

  25. border-control and work-permit schemes that went out of fashion with the collapse of the German Democratic Republic.

    All while Europe, including Germany are scrambling to close their borders.

    1. Clearly racist bigotry directed against devout believers in suicide vests.

  26. who still refuses to admit that things went poorly during her tenure at State and, in fact, for most of this century.

    We’re only 16 years in, Nick, wait’ll you see the next 74!

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  29. The world is never short of problems, but we have never been so rich with solutions and the ability to figure our ways out of the boxes we’ve built in our personal lives, our cultural lives, our work lives.

    One of those solutions is Uber (stated a paragraph above).

    These solutions end up perpetuating the awfulness that is modern politics. Sure Uber created a system that revolutionized the taxi system and the way we think about personal transportation, but it has had to come along with all kinds of pain for Uber in the realm of regulatory barriers and Union Graft.

    As a result, any small company that wants to compete with Uber will not only have to climb the mountain of regulatory barriers that Uber has been learning to navigate for the last five years, but also compete with Uber– who will no doubt be established as a kind of government-granted concessionaire due to regulatory capture.

    Sure, we may hate politics and politicians more than ever, but those same politicians are getting richer and more powerful in direct correlation with our hate of them.

    oderint dum metuant

    1. Yes. Uber just preyed the door open and slipped though but closing the door behind them. That is good for Uber. It is not however the same thing as breaking the door down, which is what Nick seems to think happened.

      Am I the only one who finds the attention reason gives Uber funny? It is a nice thing and all but in the grand scheme of things not exactly a big deal. Reason treats Uber like it is some kind of society changing invention on par with the internet or social media.

      1. Uber symbolizes something that is a big deal though. It symbolizes a way to decentralize services to a broad spectrum of people while providing an open-ended flexible employment platform. Uber, minus the regulations is a great window in to a really free market. It serves as a kind of red-letter example. But no, the world has not been rocked merely because there’s a new way for me to hail a cab. Uber is a classic example of people using existing systems to improve service.

        1. Uber is EXIT and that’s what people like about it.

      2. Sure, but implement a decentralized Uber through blockchain tech, and who exactly does the state go after?

  30. So, Nick, when will you announce your run for the White House, and your nation-wide speaking schedule to meet the 1.2% of the electorate that is expected to vote for you?

  31. Gary Johnson will end Obama’s racist war on drugs !!!

    1. Have you tried actually reading the literature from Republican Gary Johnson’s last election campaign? Is THIS a good time to be re-fielding an ineffective Republican impostor?

  32. You sitting the action out, Nick, even though Libertarians will have a candidate? How infantile. But good, sit it out. Outside of the improvement we won’t know the difference.

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  34. Yo i think legit we can claim Muse and the Chemical Brothers as libertarian, Plus Tool plus Chevelle. Tool obviously cuz Maynard is obscure and wants to be left alone, LIKE A TRUE LIBERTAIAN.

  35. maybe we should give the social libs more traction. they break throughl ecoomics sux. and no one likes itl

  36. i say this as an econ major and an mba and a trader.

  37. i want wide open borders as much as the next gut

  38. lets have wide open borders and wide open free trade!
    free markets free people. Anyone who wants to come can come. period

  39. it doesnt even matter what i want. people will trade. no matter what,
    This is the cornerstone of libertrianism. Reason be more pro trade.

  40. This is another good reason to support Austin Petersen. The entire panoply of looter candidates looks–at best–like a Gray Panthers convention and at worst like an Alzheimers/dementia clinic waiting room. The LP is already older than candidate JFK.

  41. This election isn’t anywhere close to being the end of old-time politics. Of course, that depends entirely on how one defines these things.

    From my point of view as an objectivist, e.g., a supporter of evidence or fact based politics based on an ideology designed to reduce unconscious distortion of facts and logic by personal biases, neither party in power is moving in the right direction. Democrats appear to be getting more liberal or subjective-ideological, while conservatives seem to be getting more conservative or subjective-ideological. The American public continues to further polarize.

    In other words, American politics continues to be more subjective religion-like than objective rational. Something that might reverse that trend resides with modern cognitive science, but unfortunately, translation of that knowledge into mainstream politics is nowhere is in sight. Until the mind set conducive to real change sinks in, Americans will continue to practice roughly the same brand of subjective, personal, morally intolerant ( http://dispol.blogspot.com/201…..eview.html ), religion-like politics that human societies have been practicing since humans invented politics tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago.

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  43. Time for Reason to move into the 21st century. Spending cuts, that is the specific ones, don’t get votes and never really have. They didn’t in the 80’s either. The adults who are supposed to watch these debates are in nursing homes. The only voters left are people who weren’t raised to cope with the world as it is and therefore look at politicians as bestowers of wealth and vitality whether they admit to it or not. Government was the problem in 1980, and it’s only exploded in size since then. A symposium of philosophers discussing such matters of great import aren’t getting any votes and aren’t going to fix anything. Meanwhile, we’ll drift towards another major economic downturn or political crisis, and then the fix will be in.

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  46. I don’t recall Cruz stooping to the Trump level, though the gravitational pull of the lowest common denominator is hard to resist. I imagine the awfulness would be much reduced absent Trump.

    Much else in the article illuminates the other national deficit, that of critical thinking. To wit:

    “Of course, Edward Snowden is a traitor (Clinton agrees on this too), less because of what he might have given to foreign governments (there’s no evidence that he’s done anything of the sort)…”

    It was reported that the Chinese and the Russians both took possession of his laptops and hard drives. I don’t think it was for safe keeping.

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  48. How sad that you defend Uber, which is a system of massive surveillance that tracks passengers and does not allow anonymity. A secondary wrong, and no accident, is that it pays drivers peanuts, which is why I call it “Guber”. Bankrolled by billionaires, it operates at a loss, trying to kill off its competition.

    I will never use Uber, because of the surveillance. For the moment, the older alternatives remain — but what if it kills them off?

    Please join in resisting Guber for the wrongs it does. See stallman.org/uber.html.

  49. Sanders says how he will pay for social programs: with a tax on financial transactions that will, as a beneficent side effect, reduce speculation and make financial markets less volatile. I think this is very good. Whatever your opinion of his proposal may be, you should not misrepresent it.

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  53. Summary: It doesn’t matter if Republicans have a good argument about same-sex marriage, they really just think gays are icky and are therefore bad people. It is extaordinarily difficult to conduct a debate if the other side insists on questioning your motives rather than your argument.

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  55. RE: We Are Witnessing the Last Election of the 20th Century (Hopefully)

    What a tragedy indeed!
    No more 20th century presidents.
    I don’t know about the rest of you fine people, but I miss such wonderful presidents as Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Tricky Dicky Nixon, Captain Clueless Carter, Buttbrain Bush I and Free Willy Clinton.
    Tears are streaking down my cheek as I write this.

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