Alabama

Alabama Senate Election Shouldn't Be a Binary Choice

The two-party system isn't responsive to consumer (voter) needs.

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Dan Anderson/ZUMA Press/Newscom

The Alabama Senate special election is less than two weeks away, and voters will have just two names on the ballot, Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore.

And although there's just one race on the ballot, Alabamans will still have the option to fill in a vote for "straight party."

That option, used in general elections by voters who decide based purely on party affiliation, illustrates the structural problem with democratic politics in the U.S.

Revelations about Roy Moore over the last month concerning accusations of inappropriate sexual contact with minors in the 1970s, which led many high-profile Republicans to rescind their endorsements, have left many Republican voters unenthusiastic about their choices.

Although the state Republican party could withdraw Moore's name (meaning if he won, the election would not be valid), election law prohibits the replacement of a name less than 76 days before the election.

Even worse, independent and third party candidates had to file by August 15, nearly four months before the election.

There are at least four write-in candidates vying to provide voters another option in the special election, the most prominent of them being Lee Busby, a Marine colonel who was an aide to John Kelly when he served in Iraq.

"I have no idea if the allegations against him true or not, but I don't see anything within his experience as a judge that qualifies him for the job," Busby said of Moore to The Daily Beast. "Alabama is not happy with the two choices we have down here. They are not appealing."

None of these is more than an afterthought, leaving the democratic process in Alabama woefully unresponsive to voter demand. American consumers don't accept binary choices in almost any other sphere. Even with rivalries like McDonald's vs. Burger King or Coke vs. Pepsi consumers spend billions of dollars on many other fast food and soft drink companies.

As Moore's problems pile up—two weeks ago Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Moore wasn't fit to serve in the Senate and said he wouldn't rule out expelling him—his support remains relatively steady.

While Jones led by five points in one poll earlier this months, and Moore's Real Clear Politics polling average lead is just one point, the latest polling suggests that even as Moore's unfavorability rating ticks upward, he maintains a five to 10 point lead.

Conservatives concerned about the crass turn the Republican party has taken, like those at the National Review, say Moore never should have received the nomination.

The Democrats' reticence to make an example of either Sen. Al Franken or Rep. John Conyers could be helping Moore hold on to support. Both have been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, and their resignations or expulsions would not put their party's control of their seats at immediate risk.

Many of Moore's supporters, particularly evangelicals, may be sticking with him over concerns about abortion. At National Review, Alexandra Desanctis describes Jones as an abortion "zealot."

In the end, the vast majority of Alabamans who bother to vote (and it won't be a lot of them—fewer than 600,000 of the more than 3 million registered voters in the state came out for the primary, and the general is less than two weeks before Christmas), will go with Moore or Jones.

It's not hard to imagine partisan politics eventually resembling the 1996 Halloween Simpsons scene where, faced with the prospect of choosing between two space aliens in control of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, voters still refused to consider a real human, Ross Perot.

While some progressives argue for compulsory voting, were "none of the above" available, many political offices might remain vacant.

How little voting matters, as Katherine Mangu-Ward explains, makes the predicament all the more disheartening. Moore is a deeply flawed candidate many conservatives will say they feel compelled to vote for because the other option is a Democrat. It represents a huge moral compromise for the smallest pay-off.

If government didn't have so much control over us, the clowns we send to Washington wouldn't matter. So long as it does voting, especially for a choice outside two such badly flawed major parties, remains vital.

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  1. And although there’s just one race on the ballot, Alabamans will still have the option to fill in a vote for “straight party.”

    Nice, Ed. RACIST *and* SEXIST in one sentence!

    1. Options for straight ticket voting are probably in the standard ballot design that does really anticipate only one race. Changing the ballot designs has a tendency to open up the process to lawsuits. There is much incentive to leave it be if it is not outright broken.

      And again, vuctory in a democracy being 50% plus one encourages a binary choice, otherwise you are ruled by pluralities.

      1. I suppose “vuctory” is a combination of “we won” and “we’re f*cked.”

        1. Possibly, or my fingers are not optimized for typing on a phone.

          1. No, I like it, the concept needs a word – it’s not quite like a Pyrrhic victory since it means you get your objective but you’re screwed anyway.

            1. Or maybe it *is* a Pyrrhic victory, but the term needs to be updated for people who don’t know who Pyrrhic was.

              1. Not quite a Pyrrhic victory. Did Pyrrhus get fucked on the battlefield after he won?

                1. “Another such victory, and I am fucked!”

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                go? to tech tab for work detail,,, http://www.onlinecareer10.com

  2. Even worse, independent and third party candidates had to file by August 15, nearly four months before the election.

    I’m beginning to suspect the timing of the Moore revelations was not coincidence.

    1. Quit trying to misdirect blame with your silly conspiracy theories.

      Reminds me of the time the Russians stole the election by tricking everyone with their fake memes.

      1. I have no horse in that race. Everyone knew what Moore had been up to, apparently, yet the GOP let him stroll on up the ladder and journalists let him be until just the right time.

  3. Oh look, another article about Roy Moore. Why isn’t RAISIN publishing any articles about Bob Menendez and John Conyers’ being up for re election in 2018? Or Al Franken being up in 2020? Could it be because they are in the tank for pierogiecrats? I can’t think of any other raisin.

    1. Almost got me. Was about to post a link to a story about the two of them from, like, Monday

      1. Ed, you should never feel compelled to defend yourself to partisan morons in the comments.

        1. Don’t discourage writer participation in the comments section. How else are we to receive validation that we exist?

    2. Mock your political enemies all you want Hugh, but never, ever associate the culinary beauty that is the pierogi.

      1. *** with some meaningless American political election. Pierogies are too pure for that.

      2. The world always needs more dishes that are just potatoes cooked in grease! I’m not sure i’m being sarcastic, either.

      3. I would certainly vote vote for a pierogiecrat, unless they insisted on potato over kraut.

    3. Which one of those men touched little girls in the vagina and forced them to touch their erections?

      1. According to Federal Prosecutors, the answer is Menendez

      2. If we’re going by relative ages and relative power, that would be Bill Clinton.

        1. Amoral lunatics, all of you.

            1. That’s a great porn movie.

          1. That does not mean much coming from a political utilitarian.

            1. Everyone is a utilitarian. Some people are just stupid.

              1. So why are you using amorality as a criticism?

                1. Being a utilitarian doesn’t mean being amoral. Being John means being amoral.

                  1. Valuing what “works” over what is right is thw definition if amorality. Amoral behavior the heart of utilitarian decision making.

                    1. So what is right is electing a child predator to the US senate? What am I missing here?

                    2. You have never cared about rightness before. Why should anyone believe you care about it now?

                    3. Why should anyone believe Tony about anything, period?

                      If he claimed the sky was blue, I’d go check.

    4. I desperately want Moore to win. Just the sheer number of establishment statist assholes of both parties who will have an ulcer over seating him as a US senator makes it all worthwhile.

  4. I’m liking Moore less and less, but as hinted above, the timing of the revelations (if revelations they are, and not made up) seems designed to make it so that viable alternatives to the Democrat are ruled out.

    I seem to recall in New Jersey, the Dem candidate had some sort of last-minute scandal so the Dems simply replaced him. The Republicans suggested this was sharp dealing, and maybe it was since it seems reserved only for Dems.

    1. I remember well the Democrats sniveling that if they were not allowed to replace their incumbent it would be a danger to democracy as the voters were not given a vusble choice.

      1. “Viable”

        Dammit.

        1. Another Vuctory for typos.

    2. Good Lord. If this was all about the timing, then the accusers would have been much better served by waiting until just a week before the election, like with the Bush drunk driving revelations in 2000.

      1. But then it would’ve obviously been politically timed! THINK!

        1. Oh right. I forgot to consider the Washington Post’s seventh-dimensional chess game that’s clearly going on here. They publish a story (that they know to be false of course, just to destroy a Republican), but they don’t do it a week before the election when it would have maximum impact, they do it about 6 weeks before, so as to make it look like they aren’t as devious as they really are! Brilliant! That Soros/Bezos conspiracy plan is working out wonderfully I see!

          1. More like, they didn’t develop an interest in Moore’s scandals when he was defying the feds because they figured he’d just get shot down (which he was), but when it looked like he might *be* the feds, the urgency of defeating him increased.

            And of course the stories might be true, or they might not be. The key is to give more than a week for them to sink in.

    3. Broadly speaking, the question is “does the ballot slot belong the person, or to the party?”

      If it belongs to the person, then yeah, the party shouldn’t be able to change it as they will. If it belongs to the party though, then it should absolutely be able to choose someone that represents the party.

      Different states do it differently though, and in too many cases the state has inserted itself into how the political parties function that compromise their status as independent entities.

      So it’s not “reserved for Dems”, it’s “depends on state law”.

    4. “I seem to recall in New Jersey, the Dem candidate had some sort of last-minute scandal so the Dems simply replaced him. The Republicans suggested this was sharp dealing, and maybe it was since it seems reserved only for Dems.”

      Bob Torricelli had to drop out of his re-election campaign because of rampant and obvious corruption(later allowed to slide by Democrat officials). The NJ Supreme court(Democrat controlled) allowed the Dems to replace his name with Lautenberg because ‘otherwise there would be no choice on the ballot’–despite the fact that there were seven other candidates running for the seat. ‘No choice’ to Democrats means ‘no Democrat running’

  5. “Alabama Senate Election Shouldn’t Be a Binary Choice”

    And here I was getting all excited at the thought that maybe Reason was going to join in the call to repeal the 17th Amendment.

    1. I read that before the 17th Amendment, the system of electing Senators was incorrigibly broken and…never mind.

  6. What if I told you that all choices are binary?

  7. Democrats work hard to get the worst Republican on the ballot, and then complain that the worst Republican is on the ballot.

    Crocodile tears.

    Nothing prevented third parties from running in this election.

    Nothing prevented voters from selecting a different Republican in the primary.

    The endless complaints about having only two choices in the election deliberately ignore the primary process.

    There were ELEVEN candidates in the Republican primary, including a congressmen and the sitting, appointed senator. There was a primary, a runoff and now the general election. NINE candidates ran in the Democratic primary. You cannot seriously argue that the voters didn’t have enough choice.

    1. Well, I had no choice, because I do not live in that state. Yet whichever statist is elected, he will have direct and negative impact on my life.

      1. Such is the nature of a representative republic. Your complaint us worth the electrons it is writtenon.

    2. So is that the new line, that Trump is the fault of Democrats? Hey, I’ve seen worse.

      1. No Tony, Trump is the gift of the Democrats. Thanks to Trump Hillary is not President and the country avoided a catastrophe. If Democrats want to take credit for that, all I can say is Thank you.

        1. Is it that you want all of our leaders to be sexual predators, or is that just a coincidence?

          1. Clinton supporter against sexual predators. That is still so funny.

            1. Whom did Hillary Clinton molest?

              1. Lady Liberty.

              2. The good names of her husband’s victims.

              3. Both Clintons are predators. Not sure if they’re into kids like you though Tony.

      2. Hillary supported Trump for the same reason republicans supported Obama. They figured there was no way they could lose to that clown.

        1. I don’t think any Republicans supported Obama in the 08 Primary.

          1. There was some primary crossover, if i recall. Obama’s opponent was, after all, Herself.

          2. I believe Limbaugh encoraged crissover voting for Obama in 2008, after the GOP nomination had been locked up.

            1. For Clinton actually but at least you got the two candidates right which is good for a reason comment.

              1. My memory did not entirely serve. Mea culpa.

      3. Published November 7, 2016

        They Always Wanted Trump: Inside Team Clinton’s year-long struggle to find a strategy against the opponent they were most eager to face.

        http://www.politico.com/magazi…..ump-214428

        So to take Bush down, Clinton’s team drew up a plan to pump Trump up.

        Clinton aides finally started to see Trump as more than a tool to destroy Bush. In fact, Mook took him so seriously that his team’s internal, if informal, guidance was to hold fire on Trump during the primary and resist the urge to distribute any of the opposition research the Democrats were scrambling to amass against him.

        1. That just shows how stupid and out of touch they were.

        2. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

      4. I think some of the blame has to go to Dems, yes. If their best offerings are Clinton and Sanders, they deserved to lose.

        Plenty of blame left over for the Reps, of course. If they’d acted with the slightest hint of principle or integrity over the previous several years, Trump would have been laughed off the stage as he deserved.

        1. I have yet to hear anyone explain why Trump is any worse than any other Republican other than that he says mean things on Twitter. Indeed, Trump is likely much better on reducing the regulatory state than any Republican outside of Paul or maybe Cruz. Does anyone honestly believe Bush or Rubio or Kasiech would not be gleefully expanding the regulatory state right now if they were President? I sure don’t.

          1. Besides political incorrectness as you noted, they seem really upset about “the wall”, a proposal to enforce a border that is already established and protected by law. so their complaint amounts to little more than a weak complaint about efficiency and the distasteful symbolism of having a wall versus the really big fence that’s there currently.

            Otherwise the main complaints seems to be over fantasyland things like imagining he will round up and gas all muslims.

          2. Trump doesn’t just lie like the Clintons do, he shits on the very notion of truth. Remember how during the Detroit GOP debate he said that American soldiers should commit war crimes by killing the families of enemy combatants? Probably not, because he’s said 100 more things all of which are more stupid and outrageous since then.

            1. Okay, he says mean things you don’t like. Big fucking deal. Name something he has done in office that is any worse or different than what any other Republican would do?

              You are just proving my point. I really don’t’ care that he offends your delicate sensibilities. Who gives a shit what he said in some GOP debate everyone forgot the next day? He has been in office for a year. If that is all you have, you might as well just admit he is the best Republican president since Reagan.

      5. That’s not new. Folks have been saying that since mid 2015.

  8. There is not a binary choice. I am pretty sure Alabama law allows write-in candidates. There is nothing stopping the voters in Alabama from voting for a third choice. They just choose not to do so. Whatever you think of that choice, the fact that they are making it is pretty strong evidence that the two party system is giving them what they want. The author of this article just doesn’t like what they want.

    The problem isn’t the two party system. The problem is most people are not libertarians and are not going to vote for one. Pretending otherwise isn’t going to help change that.

    1. This is the rare case of a unitary choice. There is no plausible argument for voting for a child raper. Sucks to be a Republican in Alabama, but life isn’t always fair, especially when you nominate a theocratic kid fucker for the ticket.

      1. Neither Mendendez nor Bill Clinton are running for Senate in Alabama as far as I know. If the Democrats wanted a rapist to be a Senator, they should have gotten one of them to run. I don’t know what else to tell you Tony.

        1. You’re right, so why are you bringing them up?

          1. Because we were talking about kiddie rapers spaz.

      2. If Tony was as good at begging on the street corner as he is begging the question, he could retire.

      3. A child raper? Tony, I didn’t know you were running for office.

    2. The majority of Alabama voters probably won’t even vote in this election. Tell us again how the two-party system is catering to the desires of *all* the voters.

      1. An election, by definition, is not going to cater to the desires of all the voters. It is not intended to, nor is it possible or desirable to do that.

        1. Pretty much that. You only get one choice. Elections are nothing but a pure exhibition of concept of stated preference versus revealed preference.

        2. No, but it could likely cater to the desires of at least a majority of voters with more than just 2 candidates on the ballot.

        3. I’d think voters’ desires, by definition, are desirable.

          1. The large amount of candidates in the GOP presidential primary is one of the reasons the anti-trump voters and were unable to coalesce around a single candidate. Plurality rules will get you weird results often, and it will not be your kind of weirdness.

            1. I’m just speaking about definitions.

            2. If only there was a non-governmental entity in control of the nominating process that could exert control over the process to ensure that the eventual nominee does reflect what the party’s members want.

              But the Democrat and Republican parties got enmeshed with state governments long ago, so who knows.

      2. The majority of voters may have already voted and lost.

        There were A LOT of candidates on all sides of the primary, winnowed to 4 in the runoff, and 2 in the special.

        That’s how it works–eventually if you use any kind of winnowing process, it’s gonna come down to two, two candidates, maybe two parties(unless you’re in a state where the Dems have figured out how to stop that from happening)–no matter how many candidates or parties you start with.

        And it’s done that way because we have issues with someone getting 50%+1 of the vote and winning–we’d explode if someone got 33 and a third percent plus one and was declared the victor.

  9. Binary choices? I’d settle for primates.

  10. The history of parliamentary governments with more than two parties ALSO blows chunks. France, for example.

    Third parties exist. Yes, they are loaded down with excessive requirements to get on the ballot. That, sad to say, is inevitable; an artifact of human nature. However, they also have some responsibility for their poor showing. They tend to get bogged down in details. They won’t play the game as written, and then change it; they want the people who are running the game to change it for them. The list goes on.

    This is the system we have. Win some legislatures, work up to governorships, get a foothold in Congress, and then and only then make strike for the Presidency. Or admit you are perpetual also-rans.

    1. What happens in parliamentary systems is that small fringe parties end up with grossly disproportionate power because they often end up being the deciding vote between two larger parties competing for power. I can understand how Libertarians would find such a system appealing but I fail to see why anyone else would.

      1. Yeah, I can’t imagine why anyone would like a system that allows a finer granularity in choosing representation that matches their interests.

        1. But it doesn’t match their interests. Allowing a fringe party that commands maybe 4% of the vote have an enormous say in parliament because their two seats are the difference between a majority and a minority for one of the big parties does not represent anyone’s interests but that 4%. Great for the small parties but very bad for the majority of people who wind up catering to them.

          1. We’re talking about the senate dude. 2% of the senate represents 0.0018% of the population (Wyoming) while another 2% of the senate represents 12.12% of the population (California).

            So I think I’m gonna have to beg forgiveness, but I don’t find that “but 4% could be the tie-breaker!” to be terribly convincing.

            That said, why shouldn’t the margins be the tie-breaker on a close issue? If you have three parties, two that make up 48% of the populace and legislature and one that makes up 4% of the populace and legislature, and the two big parties are opposed, then the small party being the tie-breaker kind of makes sense. And it’s no different in the “catering” effect then how the handful of politicians willing to cross aisles to vote for the other side end up being “catered” to.

            Really, why are you so threatened by the notion that 4% of the population might be represented by 4% of legislative representatives?

            1. You don’t find it convincing because you don’t know anything about politics in places like Isreal and Italy. If you did, you would understand what I mean.

              And the Senate was never intended to represent the population. The words the United States, mean something. The US is a collection of sovereign states. The Senate is there to ensure those sovereigns and by extension, those regions are properly represented. Without the Senate, people in small population states would become essentially ruled colonies with no real say in the federal government. Indeed, thanks to Baker v. Carr, one of the worst and least known Supreme Court Cases in the last 50 years, this is exactly what happens in most states. Rural areas in states like Massachusetts and Maryland have no say in their state government. Baker v. Car outlawed the existence of geographic-based legislatures in the name of one man one vote in the process effectively disenfranchised large areas of the country. If you live in a place like Western Maryland, you are ruled by Baltimore and the DC suburbs. Your communities’ values and interests mean nothing at the state level because you don’t have the votes.

            2. The US was given a near perfect Republican system. The only places where the US has failed is when it moved away from that system by doing things like electing Senators by popular vote.

              1. You don’t find it convincing because you don’t know anything about politics in places like Isreal and Italy.
                Nope. I don’t find it convincing because unlike you I’m not threatened by democracy and can accept that others will make decisions I think are wrong. I hate to admit it, but I’m more of an optimist then you on this matter.

                As for the rest… kind of irrelevant. It’s 2017 dude, move on already. Federalism died in 1864. The rest has just been out-gassing as it rots.

                1. Nope. I don’t find it convincing because unlike you I’m not threatened by democracy and can accept that others will make decisions I think are wrong. I hate to admit it, but I’m more of an optimist then you on this matter.

                  We don’t have a democracy. We have a Republic. There is a difference. This country has never been a pure democracy and no one with any sense would want it to be.

                  Again, you don’t know anything about how parliamentary systems actually work. And you seem not to be interested in learning. I am sorry but shit you pull out of your ass because you want it to be true is neither enlightening nor convincing.

  11. Who would vote on a politician based on whether he’s going to sexually assault people? That might affect, what, 1 or 2 people a week? Everything the politician does in his official capacity’s going to affect more people.

    Not only that, but many voters positively would want to elect a thief if s/he cuts them in on the loot.

    1. Or, as was said in La. a few decades back, vote for the crook, not the kook.

      1. Suppose everything that is said about Moore is true. Then take politics out of it and imagine he is otherwise you ideal candidate whom you agree with on every important issue and his opponent the opposite. If both of these things were true, why should you vote for someone whose policies and votes in the Senate are going to be completely opposite of your interests and not Moore, someone whose votes and actions in office can be reliably said to be in accordance with your interests, over something Moore did 40 years ago no matter how hideous?

        Now if you think Moore is likely to do such things once in office, then maybe you say no figuring that you can’t risk the problems created by him doing that. But, even if you believe everything said against him, he hasn’t done any such thing in over 40 years. So, there is little reason to believe he will somehow regress if he is elected to the Senate.

        So, why refuse to vote for him? He has never been convicted of a crime. He is in no danger of being prosecuted for anything. What principle are you upholding by voting for him other than “I want politicians that I can be proud of supporting more than I want politicians who will do what is right for the country”? Also, if you don’t think Roy Moore should be a Senator, do you think he should be allowed to have any other job? If so, then what is so special about being a Senator versus being an attorney or an Indian Chief?

        1. Also, if you don’t think Roy Moore should be a Senator, do you think he should be allowed to have any other job? If so, then what is so special about being a Senator versus being an attorney or an Indian Chief?

          Broadly speaking, it’s because voters are on the “hiring committee”. Them being on this hiring committee and making a given decision (yay or nay) doesn’t preclude a different hiring committee from making a different decision.

          And if he’s such a foul and detestable man that no hiring committee wants to hire him? Well, that’s kind of his own fault, isn’t it?

          1. You are just begging the question. If you think the voters should not put him in the Senate, why should he be given any other job? And if he should, what is different about being a Senator.

            If you have an answer to that, give it. But don’t just restate the question.

            1. Nope, I answered just fine.

              Voters, by the nature of being voters, get to decide who to elect/hire/whatever. Choosing to not vote someone in doesn’t mean the person isn’t allowed to run again, for the same job or some other job. It just means they weren’t hired.

              So sure, there’s probably some people (many I imagine) that would refuse to hire Roy Moore to scrub their toilets. And as a person making a hiring decision, that’s their prerogative. You know, that “discrimination should be permitted” thing you’re so fond of?

              There’s also other people that would be more then happy to hire Moore for any number of jobs (he has his own charity, and he’s a darling of the So-Con activist groups). And they also get to make the decision to hire the guy.

              It’s perfectly acceptable and reasonable to say “I won’t vote for this guy or hire him to scrub my toilets, but I’m not prohibiting you from doing so”.

              1. It’s perfectly acceptable and reasonable to say “I won’t vote for this guy or hire him to scrub my toilets, but I’m not prohibiting you from doing so”.

                Sure it is but that is not what I am asking you. I am asking you why that is the case. What is different about being a Senator. Saying “sure you can say that” is not answering my question.

                Are you really this fucking stupid or are you just trolling me? If you are trolling me, haha you have made your point. If you are serious and you are this dense, how do you feed yourself?

    2. Plus, electing him is unlikely to affect how many people he sexually assaults. But to the extent it does affect it, keeping him busy w a job might reduce the time he has to sexually assault people.

      1. That job being to make laws that affect you and me.

  12. If you don’t want elections to be a binary choice, then advocate for replacing first-past-the-post with approval voting.

  13. Alabama spoiler votes for Wallace helped Nixon defeat the Dems. So God’s Own Prohibitionists immediately began pandering to the Klan the way they did in 1932. The Tea-totalitarian Party was the exact same thing. The soft machine war in Alabammy is a contest between Hitlers and Mussolinis. Pitiful.

  14. There is a libertarian running in this race as a write in. We started this campaign in September. Way before anyone else
    . Getting media coverage and our name out there has been a challenge. I have done 3 radio shows in bham, one radio show with Fox News Radio out of New york and done several appearances at festivals and one talk at Auburn University

    Would love to do a interview with Reason if y’all are up for it.

    http://www.writeinron.org
    Facebook. Ron Bishop for US Senate

  15. “Revelations about Roy Moore over the last month concerning accusations of inappropriate sexual contact with minors in the 1970s, which led many high-profile Republicans to rescind their endorsements, have left many Republican voters unenthusiastic about their choices.”

    Why?

    Because the Republican philosophy is none existent! At least not anymore.

  16. Perhaps, but it is what it is……deal with it!

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