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GOTV And Why We Do It

This blog post was cross posted from the Madison Project’s blog.

This past election cycle the Madison Project endorsed and worked in many races from Idaho to Pennsylvania, California to Georgia, and states in between. From direct candidate support to bundling money for our endorsed candidates to radio ads and GOTV work, our support runs the spectrum of what it takes to get good conservatives elected to office.

During the 2014 election we had the opportunity we were pleased to work with Peter Baergen, a young homeschooler who loves politics, in Kentucky and Mississippi some of the GOTV Campaigns that Madison Project funded in 2014. We believe that training the youth of today in effective procedure and planning will produce better leaders for tomorrow.

Below is his recounting of his experience with us (thanks for doing this, Peter!).

 

“5 days. 42 students. Over 18,000 voters contacted and an initial victory of less than 1,400 votes.

Those are the numbers that resulted from a Madison Project student get-out-the-vote effort that I helped organize in Mississippi in early June of 2014, supporting constitutional conservative Chris McDaniel for U.S. Senate in his primary election race against 36-year incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran.  In less then a week, we worked with 42 middle and high school students to knock on doors in the Jackson, MS area, contacting nearly twenty thousand voters in an election that Chris McDaniel would initially win by less than 1,400 votes.

With Madison Project staffers and voter contact software Campaign Sidekick we connected with the Republican primary voters most likely to support Chris McDaniel.  Each morning, we gathered for breakfast and an update about the day’s plans before dividing into smaller teams and climbing into minivans, ready to hit the road.

Armed with walk lists, literature, and plenty of bottled water, we spent the majority of our time knocking on doors and talking to voters about why Chris McDaniel was the best candidate for the United States Senate.  Each evening, we’d gather together again to hear any updates on the race and tell stories from the day — like the time that one of our guys knocked on a door that, unknown to him, had already been knocked on by a different team.  A man answered the door and, referring to the team that had been there earlier, commented, “If you see them, tell them I’m sorry… but I had such fun giving them a hard time!”

He was, he added, a strong supporter of Chris McDaniel.

McDaniel, a state senator, faced an uphill battle against an entrenched incumbent and the Republican establishment in Mississippi.  However, with the help of the Madison Project and other groups, he overcame the political establishment in Mississippi and across the nation to force a six-term incumbent U.S. Senator into a runoff — a feat that gained nationwide attention and the chagrin and dismay of the liberal GOP Establishment.  It is generally acknowledged that had Democrats not been recruited to vote in the “open primary” run-off election by the Haley Barbour and his nephews, Chris McDaniel would have won the run-off as well.

The students that we worked with for this campaign, as well as other get-out-the-vote efforts funded by the Madison Project, were young conservatives concerned about the direction our nation is headed and willing to work hard to change it.  After our work in Mississippi, they are still eager (many of them even more eager!) to make a difference — but now, they have valuable knowledge on how they can most effectively use their time and energy to make a difference.  They have experienced what it takes to make a Get-Out-The-Vote operation work — from the phone calls and walk lists to the yard signs and Facebook posts.  They have seen the attacks and manipulative tactics, and learned how to effectively combat them.  Many of them returned to put their new-found knowledge to work within a few weeks of the primary campaign, joining us for our efforts in the run-off election on June 24.

This is how elections are won — by informed and engaged citizens interacting one-on-one with voters on doorsteps across America, answering their questions and asking for their vote.  The Madison Project is doing great work across the country, building a strong ground game for the conservative movement — a ground game that is vital if we want to elect principled, constitutional conservatives to public office.”

If you would like to help fund our GOTV efforts with great kids like Peter, click here to make a donation today. Early money means we can hit the ground earlier in key races and states!

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How To Save Your Country In 5 Minutes, Episode #2

How do you build political strength from the ground up? The Madison Project’s Drew Ryun discusses this in Episode #2 of How To Save Your Country In 5 Minutes.

 

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How To Save Your County In 5 Minutes, Episode #1

Today the Madison Project is launching a new series of weekly podcasts titled, “How To Save Your Country In 5 Minutes.”

As the title suggests, each podcast is only 5 minutes in length, but in each one we will give listeners actionable items that they can do each day to turn this country around. From policy to politics, this series will be your one stop shop.

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Vetting Candidates

Even Tea Party Candidates Lie

Candidates Lie

Most of us have done a very limited amount of vetting candidates, though of course we size them up all the time. But there is a difference between choosing among a group of candidates from their media presentation and actually vetting them. Vetting is a systematic process for discovering the strengths and weaknesses of individual candidates before offering them assistance.

The process of vetting is especially important to Precinct Committemen, who are the ultimate grassroots activists. As members of political parties, committeemen (or precinct captains, delegates, or whatever they are called in your state) are the first line of defense in keeping the bad actors out of politics — and in identifying good public servants, as well.

I divide the key factors in vetting a candidate into Commitment, Policy, and Retail Politics categories. In breaking down those factors, realize that they are related and often in conflict, so don’t get caught up in the categorization. A candidate sometimes will have to choose between his commitment to getting elected, to his principles and policies, and how to speak to a given set of voters on particular topics.

Another note before digging in: candidates lie. They forget, obfuscate, hedge, hide, engage in wishful thinking, and try to put the best face on things. A good vetting process is designed to alert both the candidate and the investigating committeeman to potential pitfalls. It is an essential part of filling local offices and developing a campaign strategy for the selected candidates.

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Getting Involved in Your Party

Glenn Reynolds, the famed Instapundit, wants people to know that they can make a difference nationally by getting involved locally. As linked by Ed Morrissey at HotAir, Reynolds notes:

You might join a political party — many small-government activists are trying to take over the Republican (and some even the Democratic) Party at the grassroots level and work from the bottom up, from the precinct to the state level.

It’s surprisingly easy to get involved in politics locally, and you can acquire responsibility and influence quite rapidly if you’re good with people and willing to put in the work.

The parties have a similar structure, mostly dictated by state law at this point. State chairs, district and county chairs, sometimes are separated by more layers from the grass roots level. But the grass roots is almost always something called a Precinct Committeeman.

The PCs are usually elected by the primary voters in a party. They in turn vote on the higher offices in a given party.  But here’s the big secret: nationwide, about half of these slots are empty. When empty, either fewer people vote for the higher offices, giving those who do vote more power, or the incumbent (e.g., county chairman) gets to vote for himself by proxy.

We at the Precinct Project have been trying to get principle-driven, constitutional conservatives to join the major pary of their choice by becoming Precinct Committeemen. Really, we don’t care which one you choose: both parties need to be more influenced by conservatives.

Browse about the site and you’ll see instructions for contacting your county chairman and offering to help.  Probably the chairman is overworked and underpaid, because he’s a volunteer, and will welcome the help. But if you get stonewalled, you can contact me (@lheal) or the Project main account (@PrecinctProject) on Twitter, and we’ll get to the bottom of things.

Despite what you may have heard, the parties are not the same. They are just weak, and controlled by incumbents who make the laws circumscribing what the parties can do. What is needed is for ordinary citizens to get off their couches and spend a couple of hours a month regenerating the party structures.  If we do that, the politicians will sit up and take notice, because we will engage the people in their government once again.

Originally published July 4, 2011.

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The Why and How of Party Reform

The purpose of a political party is to get out the vote for candidates who support a platform. We have allowed our parties to atrophy, so that rather than the parties controlling candidates, incumbents and candidates with money control the parties.

In particular, parties have not performed their get out the vote (GOTV) duties, so candidates have had to take up the slack. Usually the campaigns and parties coordinate poorly, so that some voters are never contacted while others, the more attractive voters, may be contacted even if they have already voted. Along with negative campaigning and an emphasis on appealing to moderate and independent voters, the lack of a party structure has led to low voter turnout.

These conditions have given us candidates, especially incumbents, who are not beholden to parties. They raise their own funds and each perform their own targeted GOTV. As a result, it has been said recently that a member of Congress is more likely to die in office than to lose a reelection bid.

The cure for all of these ills is to rebuild the parties from the ground up, starting with ideologically motivated Precinct Committeemen (PC).

The function of a PC is slightly different from a campaign’s precinct captain:

  • The PC’s first job is to find a replacement, then a team
  • PCs need to develop ongoing relationships with voters using data tools for casual contacts, online interaction, door-knocks and phone calls
  • The PC is a farmer, growing a crop of voters a little bit at a time
  • Every voter (even outside party) should know how to contact the PC
  • Success for a PC lies in improvement, not just in winning the precinct
  • Each PC should be self-sufficient in funding

If the PCs and various levels of the hierarchy were all doing their jobs, campaigns would not need to do GOTV and could focus on messaging and publicity.

One of the key functions of a PC is to catch a voter’s eye at the convenience store or at church and remind them, sometimes with just a nod in an off-year, that he or she is a voter. That ongoing relationship is the difference between a campaign precinct captain and a PC. The campaign harvests what the PC sows.

Originally posted August 11, 2011..

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A Trifecta of Tools for Victory (Part I of III)

An entire suite of exciting new tools have become available to Republicans, and if deployed, will mean a much wider margin of victory in 2012 than we would otherwise see – indeed, these tools may be critical for victory in 2012 at all.

Article I in this series will discuss the major release of rVotes.com.  Article II will tell you about Nationbuilder.com, and article III will discuss PrecinctProject.us.

Background
Almost everyone recalls the massive web site/campaign management tool, Obama for America (OFA), that was a major factor in Obama’s 2008 victory.  The day after election day, the site was renamed Organizing for America (OFA).  Today, both domain names redirect you to barackobama.com, the president’s current 2012 campaign site.  Note that during the interim since Obama’s election, OFA (as Organizing for America), has continued to build on the historically strong online activist presence that we witnessed in 2007/2008.

Although the system is pervasive and massive, and performs many, many campaign functions required for victory, what drew public attention at first was the web site’s ability to quickly draw in hordes of activist volunteers (some 400,000) via the web, engage them online, and immediately make them productive online in promoting a campaign victory.

Both LadyImpactOhio (here and here as well) and I took a look at the system before and after the campaign.  While LIO’s research was much more thorough than mine,  my own research was conducted prior to the election as I succeeded in contributing a small amount to the Obama campaign with a credit card (and a foreign billing address) to confirm the campaign was purposely engaged in the criminal activity of accepting foreign contributions.  LIO’s vigorous research was much more comprehensive.

The system, built up over nearly a decade from it’s precursors known variously as Catalist, Voter Activiation Network (VAN) and VoteBuilder, became OFA.

OFA was not just used to elect candidates, it was used extensively to organize and mobilize support for passage of Obamacare and other measures.

One of the key strengths of OFA is it’s ability to share data among many activist organizations such as the campaigns, ACORN, SEIU, Planned Parenthood, etc.

The Republicans correctly perceived it as a real threat.  It was.

Predictably, the RNC, once so seriously threatened by this array of tools, wants to put it’s head in the sand when offered the very same tool today: rVotes.  That’s a story for another series of articles.  No matter, the state GOPs and Tea Parties will be deploying this system as soon that they can wrap their minds around it and evaluate it, and that’s a major task in and of itself.

As we’ve examined rVotes carefully around the backwaters of the internet for the past few weeks, I’ve gotten in the habit of telling newcomers to the topic that it will take you over a week of casual reading to wrap your mind around everything that rVotes can do for a political effort and its allies.  That’s no exaggeration.

rVotes is already deployed in Rhode Island, and GOP state chair Ken McKay is reportedly ecstatic with it, as it has  already won the RI GOP one election they thought was unlikely.  I’ve heard of moves afoot to get rVotes implemented in AZ, CA, MI and MN.  Other states will soon follow.

Emerging as rVotes.com
rVotes and even its precursor, VAN are products of capitalism.   The software was written by venturesome capitalist programmers with the intent of future profit.   (I hope this is encouraging news to you, Dear Reader, as this is a conservative web site.)    The Democrats paid up first.   When Steve Adler, the original VAN programmer decided to leave VAN in 2005, in order to get other elements of the settlement he wanted (such as taking his source code with him) he had to agree to a 5 year non-compete clause.

He has now emerged from that non-compete provision, and is making his software (with 5 years of improvements) available to Republicans.

The weeks of investigation a large group has already performed in the backwaters of the internet leads me to anticipate a few possible early responses.  Before you respond with suspicious comments about top-down systems that ignore the grassroots from profiteering publishers, please take a careful look at rVotes licensing arrangements (I won’t go into them here).  As I noted above, many of us have been investigating and researching rVotes for weeks now – conference calls, news lists, etc., and have concluded that rVotes deserves a serious hearing from party, civic and Tea Party/912 leaders.

If you are suspicious of the rVotes principals intentions or motives, then I suspect in turn that no words of mine here could allay your suspicions.  Perform your own investigations and satisfy yourself one way or the other.

Yes, rVotes will seem expensive to early adopters.  The prospect of access to rVotes will also energize the grassroots to go out and simply raise that money now, so the real question becomes one of foregoing victory next year in your area while you wait for the investment price to come down.  Since grassroots Republicans can be formidable fundraisers, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to consider foregoing the victories that would otherwise accrue to local parties and Tea Parties.  After all, it’s only money, as Rebublicans are sometimes heard to say.

And the creators of a system this worthwhile in its support for our victories deserve to prosper.

Remember, the Democrats have been clobbering us with this system for 4-6 years.  That’s a very good track record.

This article does not say much about what rVotes actually does.   As I allude above, understanding rVotes is not a quick study.  Follow the links above to explore.  Do it when you have plenty of time.

Finally, as the creator of PROCINCT, I anticipate that others might ask or wonder,  ”why would you endorse a system or product that many would regard as a competitor to yours?”  Passage of time will prove that there will still be a place for PROCINCT.   So my reply would be simple and short:

For our efforts, for our way of thought, for our way of life, it’s about victory.

Ron Robinson is founder and creator of PROCINCT, is a GOP official/activist in Los Angeles county, a new media & activist blogger and a businessman.

Crossposted

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PC Power and Governance

It’s not just about getting out to walk the precincts.  If we are dissatisfied with what our party delivers to us and our to government, it’s on us to get involved with party governance and correct the party by governing it directly.   I’ve written much elsewhere just how much success this strategy is having in many states already – the party is changing!  You are needed to accelerate that change.

But most PCs are simply unaware of just how much governing power they possess – and we need to be training each other to use it, to wield it!

Governing the party

It turns out there is much more involved (or there can be) than just voting once every 2-4 years for your county chair, or state chair and national committee critters.  Much more than just being on the platform committee of your county or state.  Look at the second column from the left on the chart below – the column with a sampling of the local boards, commissions, agencies and authorities in your region.

As one of the local PCs in your community, you practically have first claim to sit on one or more of these boards and commissions if you make your interest known – and especially if your county or state chair makes a few calls to help you.  It may sometimes take some sharp elbow work, but it can be done, usually as easily as when you became a PC.

So we should be going after these various board, commission, agency and authority seats with a vengeance.

How your local power cascades and is magnified/leveraged. (click to enlarge in a new tab)

 

One caveat: the above chart by the third column from the left is talking solely about city/county employees, but your influence goes much farther than that as a member of a board or commission: you also influence vendors (may longime vendors with ‘sweet’ contracts) neeting attendees, and many more people than we can represent on the chart.

I’m not relating these facts out of any excess of scholarship or study.   I quite literally stumbled into the idea as a result of an invitation – an invitation that I suspect many readers here will envy, especially with the rapidly rising popularity of  organizations like True the Vote and voter fraud work.

I was invited to attend a meeting of VSAP, the LA County advisory board that will help choose the voting equipment we be using in LA in 2016.  At the meeting I asked to be appointed to the board, and suggested how I might help, and my offer was accepted.  Even though I work for the ‘opposition’ party compared to most in the room that day.

What’s your area of interest?  I’m betting you can find one in the second column above.  Then join in, in your local community, and contribute to the governance of your community as well as your party.

We often accuse our party leaders of being ‘too nice’.  Are we guilty of the same thing if we’re not ready to get into the rough and tumble of community and local party governance?  After all, we should not be calling on our leaders to engage in these difficult battles if we are not present on the battlefield to support them.

I don’t have to tell you what the consequences for us are if we do not do this, right?

 

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Setting Forth the Strategy

Welcome to the Madison Project’s PrecinctProject.us!

You may have noticed that there is a nationwide movement afoot to regain control of our parties and govern our parties back in the direction that serves our country best.   If not, this is your introduction to Madison Project’s contribution to that movement.   A movement that encourages you to become active in the governance of your party by becoming a Precinct Committeeman (PC) in your neighborhood, then build on that to become involved in the governance of your county and state parties. I won’t tell you how right here, but to keep you reading, I will tell you that it’s very, very easy, and you can do it!

For the national conversation, we’ve settled on the term PC (for Precinct Committeeman), but it may be called something different in your state: alderman, precinct captain, precinct executive, central committee member.  The salient point is that a PC has a vote to govern the party at the level where they serve.  They vote for who is going to be county chair.  They vote in sub-committee meetings to choose candidates and settle party policy.   In short, they vote on the internal governance of their party.

A strategy so that our parties serve us

A strategy so that our parties serve us, not entrenched special interests

What is the movement’s purpose? To restore control of the party to the people. To ensure that the party serves the interests of citizens, and not entrenched interests in the state capitols and in Washington DC.

If you’ve ever experienced the sense that your party is out of control and nobody is really behind the steering wheel, then the sense you are feeling conforms exactly with reality. There’s a reason why this is true. Essentially, the parties are operating at half speed with little governance. This can be quantified, and has been quantified: nationwide, of all the voting seats available to govern the party, half are sitting empty. Unoccupied. Vacant.

Little wonder then, that we see our parties acting like unsupervised children. No “adults” are present at the party meetings to vote the party back to a sane course. In one party, out of roughly 181,000 precinct seats that vote at the county level, only about 90,000 of those seats are filled with voting members.   This represents an unprecedented opportunity for you to join in and help govern your party. Elect better county chairs. Elect better state chairs. Elect better National Committee people.  Guide and govern the elected leaders we already have in the party.

Our objective? Simple: to fill all those empty seats on the party committees, thus ensuring that better leaders become available to the party, and that they are elected to lead the party.

Who can participate? Anyone can participate and govern their party. I’m looking at you.

Why should I participate? Because you want to be effective in changing the direction of your party and thus your country. If you’re like me, you’ve written a lot of letters to your congressman in the last couple of years. Perhaps, like me, you engaged in a little fantasizing that your Congressman or a staffer would call you to discuss your thoughts and ideas. I’ve learned, since I became one, that if you are a PC or are otherwise involved in your county or state party governance, then you
will get that call from your congressman or his/her staffer.  ”Somehow” you become one of “the anointed” and voila, your phone calls are returned!

You see, elected officials pay careful attention to what party officials have to say to them.  And if you are a PC, you are indeed very much a party official.

An elected official may scoff when somebody mentions the word “primary” to them, but they are suddenly very very serious about listening if a PC utters the word “primary”.  Only a PC has the authority within the party to actually make a primary happen.  So if you want to drive an icy spike of fear into an elected official’s heart, first become a PC, then mention the possibility of a primary to that elected official.  You will notice that official suddenly becomes very attentive to your ideas.

Oh, and I think that official will begin to return your phone calls.  Quickly.

But there’s more. If you become a PC, you will quickly notice that there is a real power vacuum at the county and state level.   Remember I said half the governing, voting seats in the party are empty?   Well those empty seats exist also at the county and state levels.  Again, half or more of those voting seats are empty.  That means if you want one, you can get one.   As this movement has gathered steam, we’ve gotten many, many reports from beginners who went to their county organizing caucus for the first time and emerged as a district chair, and state delegate, and even county chair on their first day of party activism.   We’ve heard similar reports from many states and many counties.  If you simply go stand close to the party, the vacuum of empty seats will suck you in and place you in positions of genuine power to govern the party!

How do I get involved? Becoming active in governing your party is like joining any other civic organization.  First you find out where the meetings are and begin attending.  Introduce yourself to the local chair, vice-chair and secretary.  Find out where the party needs help and offer to help.  Voting positions are usually filled during primary elections or caucuses held every two to four years in most states, so here’s the money shot: your county chair can usually appoint you to a vacant voting seat, and it’s key that you quickly ask for such an appointment.

The key to this entire mode of activism is to have your vote to govern your party, so don’t be shy about asking for that.  Later, you can appear at you local caucuses or stand for election to your seat (whichever method is used in your state) and win your seat in your own right.  But a vote cast by a member who received a vacancy appointment from your county chair is just as good as a vote won in the biennial caucuses.   It’s your right to vote to govern your party.   Use that vote.

There are many resources available to help you.

PrecinctProject.us, this site, which is intended to be a comprehensive hub, furnishing basic information and detailed information on each state, as well as information on other sites that may be helpful.   Different people prefer different styles for learning, so we try to direct you to a resource that will help you learn the way you want to learn.

theprecinctproject.wordpress.com – this is the oldest and original site for information on becoming a PC.  It’s like a quiet library where you can get links and information on your particular state on the process for becoming a PC.

ConcordProject.org – a wonderful media property with lots of videos and detailed information on the PC process on each state.

party.PROCINCT.net – PROCINCT’s distinctive offering is that you can ask questions and take part in discussions about becoming a PC.  Like Concord, PROCINCT also offers a wide array of videos and detailed state information.

If you are a leader or a highly engaged activist, we’d invite you to blog with us at any of these sites.   Click the contact link above or fill out the “Suggest a Resource or Tip” dialog below at right.

What’s the next step? Contact your local party and attend the next meeting!  Use the resources here and on the other sites (click on your state) to find out how to contact your county party, then attend the meetings and meet your local party officials.   Insist that your county chair appoint you to a vacancy if one exists so you can cast your vote in your local party.  Then seek a district or county or state post (which is easy) and cast your vote at that level.

Like any new movement – or any new facet of an existing movement, we’re engaged in a genuine adventure.  There is plenty of room for new leaders.   There is plenty of room for new activists who have new requirements to lay upon their party.  Like any new adventure, we are still supplementing the basic information on many states we do not have complete information on yet.   Most information we have on individual states was supplied by individuals like you who went through the process themselves and then told us about the process in their locale so we could document it for you here.  We’d invite you to help us (and others) in that same fashion if we are lacking some details on your state.  In any event, we can always answer questions and help mentor you through the process; we hope then that you will be willing to mentor others.  But please note well: the generic information we still have posted on some states is proven to work perfectly.  Every time.

Join us in this adventure of taking back our party.  Nothing will bring our politicians to heel faster than engaging in this process.   Nothing will change our parties and stiffen the backbones of our legislators more than citizen party officials demanding real change, real public service, and real adherence to constitutional principles.

 

Ron Robinson is founder of PROCINCT.net, a discussion web site that helps citizens become Precinct Committeemen (PCs) and provides walk lists to precinct captains doing GOTV work in their neighborhoods.  Ron also does public evangelism and alliance work in promoting PC activism in order to change his party.  He is a PC and party district chair in Los Angeles county.

 

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2010 Was the “Year of the Precinct Committeeman” in Arizona

I’d like conservatives to make 2011 be “The Year of the Precinct Committeeman” because, if that happens, conservatives will then be in a position to elect conservatives to the leadership posts inside their Party and be in the best position to get out the vote for the best conservative candidates in the all-important, traditionally-very-low-turnout primary elections.

In other words, conservatives would engineer a reclaiming of our government.

Many claim this is a “center-right” country. If that claim is true, no reason exists preventing us from electing majorities of conservatives to the state and federal legislatures.

No reason other than we conservatives are not using our political system.

No reason other than we conservatives are not using the best political tool we have to elect good, decent people to be our public servants.

No reason other than the fact that over half of the precinct committeeman slots in either party are, on average, vacant in every local party committee across America.

Bottom line: we would greatly increase our chances of replacing the corrupt incumbents, and electing good, decent people to be our elected public servants, if we conservatives would “invade” our respective local Party monthly committee meetings and go about the task of filling up the over 50 per cent of the precinct committeemen seats that are, on average, vacant. Want proof? Read on.

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