Progress Michigan http://www.progressmichigan.org No corporate money. Just uncompromised progressive politics for Michigan. Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:42:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Thoughts on Ferguson http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/thoughts-ferguson/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/thoughts-ferguson/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:23:56 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37612 As I sat and watched the events unfold in Ferguson last night I was filled with many emotions. As a parent, my first thoughts were with Michael Brown’s family and the pain they’re enduring as they not only bury their son, but as they received word that their son’s killer would not be brought to […]

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As I sat and watched the events unfold in Ferguson last night I was filled with many emotions. As a parent, my first thoughts were with Michael Brown’s family and the pain they’re enduring as they not only bury their son, but as they received word that their son’s killer would not be brought to trial.

My emotions were clouded with feelings of guilt and hopelessness. As outraged as I was by the decision in Ferguson, I couldn’t find the words to express it. I, like many white people I know who truly care about justice and equality for all, didn’t know what to say or do. I imagine it feels like the few white people in the photographs of the Selma marches, embarrassed and distraught by the actions of a few who believed they were superior, but determined to be a part of the solution.

I have never been more aware of the fact that the color of my skin means that my rights will be respected more than others than in the past few years. The deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown have made me think more and more about the role race plays in our everyday lives. I thought about my friend who has two biracial sons that are close in age to my son. More specifically, I thought about the challenges they will face in life that my white son will never experience, just because of the color of their skin. Then I felt helpless because I had no idea what I needed to do to make a change. In this line of work, usually when there is a problem we look for a legislative solution, or provide public pressure to change a policy, but racism is so deeply engrained in this country that we have to change more than a law or an elected official.

I wasn’t in Ferguson when Michael Brown was killed and I have no firsthand knowledge of what happened that day. Many fall into this same category, and yet, as we heard the decision of the Grand Jury, we immediately felt that justice was not served. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised by the decision, but I had been hopeful, like many others, that just once we would get it right.

I was hopeful that we could show the value for human life, a black life, brown life or white life. The color before the word shouldn’t matter. As Americans we’re supposed to value all life.

America is great because upon your birth you are given the same opportunity to succeed no matter the color of your skin, sexual orientation or disability status – or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.

In America, we want our kids, all kids, to have it better than we had. Sadly, my delusion that we live in a country where everyone is treated equally faded to the stark reality that America has not yet moved past deep-rooted racism that prevents that dream from being a reality. It only takes a quick perusal of the comments sections on most posts about President Obama to see what I mean.

The first part of fixing this problem has to be recognizing that we have a problem. I hope that if there is any good that comes from Ferguson it is the recognition that we need to have honest conversations about race in this country. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary.

Until Congress and state legislatures, cities and towns have leadership that reflect the diversity of our communities we cannot truly move past the injustices that continues to plague black America. Until we are willing to have the hard conversations that make many of us uncomfortable, discrimination will continue. I join the chorus of voices saying this must end. Black lives matter, Brown lives matter, ALL lives matter.

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25,000 and Counting http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/25000-counting/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/25000-counting/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 21:39:19 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37610 As one of Michigan’s most trusted watchdog groups, we have worked hard to hold the Snyder administration accountable for managing the contract between Aramark and the Department of Corrections. To that end, we submitted a FOIA request on September 12th asking for all documents related to the contract. It’s two-plus months later and we’re still […]

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As one of Michigan’s most trusted watchdog groups, we have worked hard to hold the Snyder administration accountable for managing the contract between Aramark and the Department of Corrections. To that end, we submitted a FOIA request on September 12th asking for all documents related to the contract.

It’s two-plus months later and we’re still waiting for answers. I have been in constant contact with officials in Corrections since we first requested the information. I was first told that the documents would be ready in October and then told that they would be ready right after the election. The delay was because there were over 4,000 pages to review. Just last week, I was told that the number had swelled to 15,000 pages and today I was told that the documents related to the contract are over 25,000 pages long.

There are a lot of questions that need to be asked regarding timeframes for responses and the massive cost associated with public records requests. Should it cost a citizen thousands of dollars to keep tabs on a $145 million dollar contract that benefits an out-of-state corporation? Should it take months to get answers?

Here is what we can promise. We will continue to work to hold the Snyder administration accountable. We will continue to keep the public informed when we get answers (I imagine we’ll find some noteworthy info in 25,000 pages of documents). Finally, we will invite supporters of open, accountable government to join us in calling for the type of FOIA reform that will allow citizens to hold their government accountable.

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This Week in Progress http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/week-progress-30/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/week-progress-30/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:21:50 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37602 This Week in Progressive Blogging: Eclectablog: Constitutionality of Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager law headed to federal court Eclectablog: Everything that’s wrong with the debate over marriage equality in one screenshot Democracy Tree: The Detroit News Overstates the Value of Privatization TWIP Clips: #ImmigrationAction The biggest news of the week has been President Barack Obama’s announcement […]

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This Week in Progressive Blogging:

Eclectablog: Constitutionality of Michigan’s anti-democratic Emergency Manager law headed to federal court

Eclectablog: Everything that’s wrong with the debate over marriage equality in one screenshot

Democracy Tree: The Detroit News Overstates the Value of Privatization

TWIP Clips:

#ImmigrationAction

The biggest news of the week has been President Barack Obama’s announcement that he’ll be taking executive action to temporarily address our nation’s broken immigration system.

Here are some facts on the plan:

Immigration Graphic

We applaud the President’s actions and are thrilled for the tens of thousands of Michiganders and their families who can finally breathe a sigh of relief that they will no longer have to live in fear of deportation.

The President also sent conservatives who are challenging him on his priorities and legal authority a very strong message:

Reactions to #ImmigrationAction

Here is a sampling of some of the reactions to the President’s announcement. The progressive community was rightly thrilled by the action, but we all know that more needs to be done.
Attorney General Bill Schuette (via Facebook):

“America must have a hopeful immigration policy, a policy of inclusion not exclusion. America’s door of opportunity must be open to new citizens. The door to America’s unique experiment of freedom and enterprise must be open and welcoming to new Americans.

“However, President Obama seems to be more interested in gamesmanship and litigation than working on bipartisan solutions to immigration reform. By ignoring Congress and stretching Executive Orders beyond Constitutional limits, President Obama is clearly playing politics instead of providing lawful solutions to immigration challenges. The result is gridlock and lawsuits, just what the American people voted against in 2014.”

Schuette’s language is painfully ironic considering that his extremist past has been riddled with nothing but political “gamesmanship” and “litigation” that is not only expensive, but hurts Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder: Silent
This is not a joke. Our Governor, who has consistently said he supported immigration reform and touted immigration as an economic engine, is silent on the fact that tens of thousands of Michiganders will soon be able to come out of the shadows. There wasn’t a single tweet, Facebook post or statement sent from what I’ve seen. If I’m wrong, someone please let me know.

Is this a party issue? Or does Gov. Snyder not actually care about immigrant families?

Here are some other reactions:

Michigan lawmakers respond to President Obama’s immigration plan

Forget The Pundits: Reactions To Obama’s Speech From The Immigrants Who Are Actually Impacted

Now Fox & Friends Is Upset That Obama Is Quoting Scripture
(I found this one particularly shameful.)

The Absolute Worst Reactions To Obama’s Immigration Action

Progressive Reads:

Critics blast Michigan electoral reform plan

Undocumented immigrants in Detroit cheer Obama plan

President Obama’s executive action on immigration gives Southwest Michigan’s Hispanic community relief, hope

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Progress Michigan Applauds President Obama’s Immigration Action http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/progress-michigan-applauds-president-obamas-immigration-action/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/progress-michigan-applauds-president-obamas-immigration-action/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 01:27:32 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37600 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan  November 20, 2014 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Progress Michigan Applauds President Obama’s Immigration Action Executive action announcement small step toward comprehensive immigration reform MICHIGAN — Progress Michigan released the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s announcement regarding executive action on immigration. “While the President’s actions won’t completely fix our […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan 

November 20, 2014

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Progress Michigan Applauds President Obama’s Immigration Action

Executive action announcement small step toward comprehensive immigration reform

MICHIGAN — Progress Michigan released the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s announcement regarding executive action on immigration.

“While the President’s actions won’t completely fix our broken immigration system, this step will help keep families together and build stronger Michigan communities,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “The President’s plan gives a new level of hope to individuals and families who have been living in constant fear and uncertainty. Michigan can only reach its full potential when every Michigander feels safe and welcomed, which is what we fight for every day at Progress Michigan. We applaud the President’s decision to act and we urge Congress to follow the President’s lead on the issue and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

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This Week in Progress http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/week-progress-29/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/week-progress-29/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 21:38:52 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37590 Lame Duck has begun…hold on! This Week in PM Blogging: Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management Not everyone is lauding the Plan of Adjustment that ended Detroit’s bankruptcy. Apathy is a Dangerous Course Last Tuesday’s election marked Michigan’s worst midterm voter turnout in 24 years. Exclusive Inclusivity LGB? Something is missing here… Conservative legislators introduced a bill […]

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Lame Duck has begun…hold on!

This Week in PM Blogging:

Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management

Not everyone is lauding the Plan of Adjustment that ended Detroit’s bankruptcy.

Apathy is a Dangerous Course

Last Tuesday’s election marked Michigan’s worst midterm voter turnout in 24 years.

Exclusive Inclusivity

LGB? Something is missing here…

Conservative legislators introduced a bill this week that would add language to the Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act that leaves out the transgender community completely.

The Dismantling of Detroit

Detroit’s Plan of Adjustment bodes well for the financial elite but Detroit citizens are getting a raw deal.

TWIP Clips:

Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act Amendment

This week, an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was introduced that doesn’t protect transgender people from discrimination. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which allows the use of religion to justify discrimination, was also introduced.

Progressive Reads

Michigan Advocates Push for Paid Sick Day Legislation

“Advocacy groups for low-wage earners held a news conference at the Michigan Capitol on Thursday. It was designed to be a launching point for the organizations to organize around the issue in the next two-year legislative session that starts in January.”

US, China Unveil Ambitious Climate Change Goals

“This is, in my view, the most important bilateral climate announcement ever.”

“I Could Krushchev You”: 9 Shocking Allegations From the Don Blankenship Indictment

“But the 43-page indictment tells a different story—in which Massey employees devised secret codes to thwart safety inspectors, and workers risked drowning while laboring in flooded mines that lacked even the minimum safety precautions.”

 

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The Dismantling of Detroit http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/dismantling-detroit/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/dismantling-detroit/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 20:05:33 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37584 By Matthew Kovac While politicians and CEOs celebrate the approval of Detroit’s Plan of Adjustment, and the mainstream media parrots their line to the public, the real story of the bankruptcy deal has yet to be written. The court proceedings may be over, but the harm inflicted by the city’s austerity and privatization measures is […]

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By Matthew Kovac

While politicians and CEOs celebrate the approval of Detroit’s Plan of Adjustment, and the mainstream media parrots their line to the public, the real story of the bankruptcy deal has yet to be written. The court proceedings may be over, but the harm inflicted by the city’s austerity and privatization measures is only beginning.

It’s worth remembering that the bankruptcy, triggered by decades of legislators taking money intended for city residents to fill holes in the state budget, was not inevitable. It was a pre-determined policy decision. As the Metro Times reported: “Documents later surfaced showing [law firm] Jones Day was already preparing documents related to a Detroit bankruptcy even as Gov. Snyder was saying it was only a last resort.” The declaration of financial emergency allowed the administration to appoint an unelected, unaccountable official empowered to carry out its pro-corporate agenda.

The origin of this story is critical to understanding what’s happening now in Detroit, which can only be described as a massive transfer of public wealth into private hands. As activists with Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management recently wrote: “In order to buy off financial speculators like Syncora or FGIC, the city has been forced to cede valuable riverfront property, downtown land, garages, and, of course, cold cash.” That’s to say nothing of the cool $200 million in legal and consulting fees that the plan’s architects stand to make on their way out the door.

The irony here is that Detroit is indeed rising – but not in the way that jovial elites imagine. As the austerity regime continues to tighten its grip on workers by cutting pensions, ramping up foreclosures, and shutting off water to low-income residents, community organizations like D-REM and the People’s Water Board are stepping up their activism.

Not that public opinion will matter much to the numerous boards and commissions charged with overseeing the city for the foreseeable future. Indeed, despite the public outcry, one press report stated that “no significant critics” of the bankruptcy plan were left by October. It’s a telling reminder of how far removed Detroit is from democracy. Under technocratic rule, it’s the opinions of the financial elite – not Detroiters – that count.

It’s reminiscent of that old Bertolt Brecht line: “Would it not be easier/In that case for the government/To dissolve the people/And elect another?” But even that’s too generous. After all, in Gov. Snyder’s Michigan, such authorities aren’t elected – they’re appointed.

 

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Progress Michigan Responds to Jase Bolger’s Attempt to Codify Religious Discrimination Into Michigan Law http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/progress-michigan-responds-jase-bolgers-attempt-codify-religious-discrimination-michigan-law/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/progress-michigan-responds-jase-bolgers-attempt-codify-religious-discrimination-michigan-law/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 21:54:06 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37578 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News from Progress Michigan November 12, 2014 Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org Progress Michigan Responds to Jase Bolger’s Attempt to Codify Religious Discrimination Into Michigan Law LANSING — Progress Michigan released the following statement on the news that an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act has been introduced that doesn’t protect transgender people, […]

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan

November 12, 2014

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574sam@progressmichigan.org

Progress Michigan Responds to Jase Bolger’s Attempt to Codify Religious Discrimination Into Michigan Law

LANSING — Progress Michigan released the following statement on the news that an amendment to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act has been introduced that doesn’t protect transgender people, along with a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) bill, which allows the use of religion to justify discrimination.

GOP Rep. Frank Foster introduced the Elliott-Larsen Civil Right Act amendment and GOP House Speaker Jase Bolger plans to introduce the RFRA bill.

“By pushing for this type of legislation, Jase Bolger is endorsing the use of religion to discriminate, which obstructs the LGBT community in their struggle for equal rights,” said Hugh Madden, communications director for Progress Michigan. “Bolger is trying to redefine religious freedom to allow one’s religion to be imposed on others. Our nation was founded by those who fled the type of religious persecution that Jase Bolger wants codified into Michigan law.”

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Exclusive Inclusivity  http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/exclusive-inclusivity/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/exclusive-inclusivity/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 21:27:23 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37572 Today, conservative state legislators introduced a bill to amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act that leaves out the transgender community completely.  This is happening despite the fact that discrimination against transgender people is often more severe than that experienced by lesbian, gay and bisexual people. In the first four months of 2014, over 100 acts […]

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Today, conservative state legislators introduced a bill to amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act that leaves out the transgender community completely

This is happening despite the fact that discrimination against transgender people is often more severe than that experienced by lesbian, gay and bisexual people. In the first four months of 2014, over 100 acts of violence against transgender people have been reported. An 8-year-old boy was beaten to death by his father, two 16-year-olds were shot to death, and an 18-year-old suffered two violent attacks by a mob and survived, to name a few.

In June of this year, three young trans women – Kandy Hall, Yaz’min Shancez, and Tiffany Edwards – were murdered for no apparent reason other than because they were transgender.

On top of that, transgender people face a range of legal issues that LGB people rarely do: sex-segregated public restrooms and other facilities, dress codes that perpetuate traditional gender norms, and barriers to accessing appropriate health care.

This is the reality of life for transgender people in our country. 

2014 is becoming a year where the “T” in LGBTQ is beginning to get the national respect and admiration that has been long overdue. Transgender women like Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, Carmen Carerra, and CeCe McDonald are paving the way in the fight to end transgender discrimination by publicly telling their stories and speaking out against injustices facing the trans community.

At the same time, transgender people in Michigan and across the country can still be denied housing, jobs, and healthcare simply because of their gender identity.

If conservative legislators cared at all about making Michigan an “inclusive” state, they wouldn’t introduce a bill that denies transgender people the same protections afforded to everyone else. 

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Tweet of the Day, every day http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/totd/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/totd/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 20:42:35 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37556 OK, you got us: not every day. But every weekday, we’ll be updating this thread with the most interesting, relevant, and entertaining Tweet of the Day. View archived Tweets of the Day here. The best part? We’re accepting nominations and you can join the fun! All you have to do is tag your Tweet with the hashtag […]

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OK, you got us: not every day. But every weekday, we’ll be updating this thread with the most interesting, relevant, and entertaining Tweet of the DayView archived Tweets of the Day here.

The best part? We’re accepting nominations and you can join the fun! All you have to do is tag your Tweet with the hashtag #MITOTD and we’ll include it in our mix of potential Tweets of the Day.

The prize? Pride. Notoriety. Respect.

Of course, we’ll also be perusing the Twitterverse for our favorite Tweets without the #MITOTD hashtag, so not including it doesn’t prevent one from being selected.

We’ll update the Tweet of the Day every weekday at 3:30 PM with an attendant Tweet and Facebook post letting folks know. We’ve included the first one with an explainer below, so enjoy and share this blog with your friends.

The #MITOTD for November 25, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 24, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 21, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 20, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 19, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 18, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 17, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 14, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 13, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 12, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 11, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 10, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 7, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 6, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 4, 2014:

The #MITOTD for November 3, 2014:

The #MITOTD for October 31, 2014:

The #MITOTD for October 30, 2014:

The #MITOTD for October 29, 2014:

The #MITOTD for October 28, 2014:

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Apathy is a Dangerous Course http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/apathy-dangerous-course/ http://www.progressmichigan.org/2014/11/apathy-dangerous-course/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:22:44 +0000 http://www.progressmichigan.org/?p=37549 By Brad O’Neil In the era of Citizens United and a gutted Voting Rights Act where corporations are people, money is speech, and legislators making it harder for people to vote are the new norm, voting is more important today than it ever has been. Apparently, Michiganders don’t agree. Michigan’s voter turnout last Tuesday was […]

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By Brad O’Neil

In the era of Citizens United and a gutted Voting Rights Act where corporations are people, money is speech, and legislators making it harder for people to vote are the new norm, voting is more important today than it ever has been.

Apparently, Michiganders don’t agree. Michigan’s voter turnout last Tuesday was the lowest it’s been in 24 years, just 41.6 percent. It was even worse nationally – 36.6 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot. That figure is forecasted to be the lowest national turnout since 1942, when many Americans couldn’t vote because they were fighting in a world war.

The question is, why didn’t people find it important to vote?

Some say they’re tired of both parties. Others simply claim that the system doesn’t work for them and they don’t see the purpose of participating. I understand those frustrations and I feel them myself, but forfeiting the right to vote can’t be a viable option. Our democratic system of government was designed for a citizenry that actually participates and if everyone voted in this country, things would look very different.

A silver lining can be found in state ballot measures. On issues ranging from women’s reproductive rights in Colorado and North Dakota to criminal background checks for gun purchases in Washington State, measures that were opposed by the same conservative candidates who were elected, passed by wide margins. Even initiatives to increase the minimum wage in the red states of Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota were all approved by voters.

When asked to voice their opinion on policy, the electorate has shown a willingness to educate themselves and vote with common sense and compassion. When asked to vote for politicians, they tune out.

Last week, I wrote that elections have consequences; we’re already starting to see them. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the incoming U.S. Senate Majority Leader, said that his top priority is rolling back Environmental Protection Agency regulations, including the implementation of new safeguards for coal-fired power plants that clean up our air. Sen. James Inhofe, a climate change denier who wrote a book titled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future” is in line to be the next Chairman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee when the GOP takes control of the Senate in a few months.

The political gridlock may be maddening, but the less engaged we are the worse it will become. Elections don’t operate in silos. Their effects are cumulative and if there’s anything to be learned from Tuesday’s results it’s that apathy is a dangerous course.

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