Monthly Archives: August 2012

Say What Now?

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Some of you may recall when, back in 2007, GOP-darling and all around queen of crazy town, Ann Coulter, said that, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat [sic] president.” If not for the picture making the rounds on Facebook, I would have remained blissfully forgetful of this festering pile of twit-shit. If not for the present state of insanity in which the GOP is presently residing, I’d not even bother to entertain this resurrected cadaver of stupid. But with all of the hate being directed at women, especially the anti-women plank in the GOP’s 2012 platform, her comment is, it pains me to say, more relevant now than it was when she first said it.

On the surface, what she’s saying is that the overwhelming majority of women vote Democrat and that for the Republicans to truly gain control of the nation would require that women not be allowed to vote. As laughable as this sounds coming from a woman whose own right to vote would be stripped, the implications are frightening, dangerous, and insulting.

It is insulting because, in Coulter’s opinion, women only vote for Democrats because women, especially single women, are stupid and lazy. Single, liberal women, according to Ann, vote for Democrats because Democrats “give” them things like health care, food stamps, and aid for services like day-care. Never mind the fact that such services are essential to single moms and working-class families, who typically live either dangerously close to the poverty line, teetering just on its very narrow edge, or desperately below it, because who needs facts when they get in the way of making snap judgments on people? What Coulter’s comments imply is that the Democratic party would fall without the female vote because men (read “real” men) do not vote for social programs. Social programs, which are designed to assist those for whom the system has been a disgusting failure, are a sign of weakness; they’re for lazy people who refuse to work (never mind, again, that the poverty rate is climbing, making it harder and harder for the poor to find gainful employment or support themselves). Only a pansie-ass (read, woman or less-than-manly man) would dare to be concerned with assisting the less fortunate.

The implication that it is a weakness to be concerned about and care for those who struggle to make ends meet, for those who are living in poverty, and for those who are sick is insulting. It’s insulting to those living in these situations and to those fighting to fix them. It is not a weakness to care about others, to provide programs to help people to put food on their tables, to seek medical care, to put a roof over their heads, or to acquire an education.  Compassion is a strength. It’s a marker of higher thought and a requirement of a civilized society. It is also insulting because this woman, and I use that term lightly for her, seems to honestly think that women cannot be trusted to vote.

It’s dangerous because it would set the US back decades, centuries even. Nearly every single progressive social program, from Medicare to Labor Laws to Civil Rights to Women’s rights (this has an interesting history, though, so to learn more follow the hyper-link) to environmental protections, has been sponsored and/or passed, in large part, by liberals and Democrats (especially in the past thirty years). And the majority of these programs were and have been supported by female voters, most of whom tend to be liberal. If women couldn’t vote, if the GOP had all or most of the power, then most of these programs would likely be gone or, at the very least, greatly diminished in scope and power. Just look at the GOP’s 2012 platform (seriously, read this shit, what you don’t know will hurt you): end medicare (that is exactly what the voucher program they’re proposing will do), make gay-marriage illegal, outlaw all abortions with no exceptions for rape and/or incest, weaken (if not completely destroy) Unions, tear down the wall of separation between church and state, and essentially dismantle the EPA, among a slew of other policies that will be detrimental to the progress of this nation and that are hostile to anyone who is not a wealthy, white, heterosexual male.

If this is the America that the GOP wants, then just imagine if the conductors of the train of human progress in this nation (liberals and women) were no longer a strong presence in politics. I feel ill just thinking about it. Just imagine if women could not vote. Imagine once again being wholly dependent upon men, specifically conservative men, to make any and all political decisions. It’s an awful thought. I shudder to think of all of the people living in poverty without access to health care, food, and shelter. I cringe at the thought of all of the women forced into back alley clinics, risking injury or death, to abort a pregnancy she does not want, either because birth control is once again illegal or because rape is now “just another form of conception.

It’s frightening because this is a woman saying this. Whatever you think of Ann, and I personally do not think very highly of her, the idea that a politically active woman would sooner relinquish her own right to vote than suffer care of the poor, sick, and disabled is a scary thought. Regardless of personal ideology on polarizing issues, such as gay rights or abortion, on the issues of suffrage and equal protection under the law we women need to stand together. There was a time in this country in which a married woman could not own property, enter into contracts, maintain custody of her children, seek a university education, enter most professions, have a line of credit, wear pants (that’s right, women were not allowed to wear pants), seek a no-fault divorce to escape an abusive husband, the list goes on (read this and this). The majority of the improvements in the legal status of women in this country resulted after we got the vote.

That a woman would suggest that the nation, and by extension its women, would be better off if those same women couldn’t vote denies the very real struggles and sufferings of our fore-mothers. Worse, it makes a mockery of everything they endured to lift up themselves, to end the state of chattelry in which they’d been kept, and to ensure that their daughters and all subsequent generations would never be subjected to the powerlessness that they and their own fore-mothers had been forced to endure.

Seriously, Ann? Say what now? Would you truly want to take the vote away from women, from yourself? You might be willing to return to the dark ages, to be once again the property of the men in you life; but I like being free. Free to vote, free to seek an education, free to choose if and when I become a mother, free to own the fruits of my labor, and free to wear pants.

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Through the Gates of Hell and Back Again

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I grew up in the 1980s and came of age in the 1990’s, in the midst of third-wave of feminism. The generations of women who had come before me had fought, with such bravery and determination, enduring prison and abuse, to win me the right to vote and to have access to family planning service, including access to safe and legal abortions should I need it. I took these things for granted. I mistakenly believed that society, at least the majority thereof, had progressed to such a point on human, civil, and women’s rights (all one in the same in my opinion) that no one would ever dare to drag us back through the gates of hell  and lock us behind them once more.

To my fore-mothers and fathers, who struggled and fought and suffered so that I could have a full say in my own life, I am sorry for my complacency. But I am awake now. I have heard the battle cry of the misogynists, from every corner of this nation, as they fight to rob me of my hard won autonomy.  I was foolish to believe that rights, once won, could not be so easily over-turned. As a student of history, I should know better. I am sorry. It will not happen again.

I admit, that over the course of the past two years, the ferocity and determination at which the GOP and the anti-choicers have come at women’s rights has left me a bit fatigued. It seems as if every time I turn around some half-wit, wanna-be-king of the world is saying something horrible. If it’s not Todd Akin saying that there are two kinds of rape (the “legitimate” kind and “you asked for it” kind) and only one of them can get you pregnant, or VP candidate Raul Ryan claiming that rape is just a “form of conception,” or Tom Smith insisting that getting pregnant from rape is akin to getting pregnant out of wedlock; then it’s the average anti-choicer calling abortion murder (and by extension women who have them and doctors who perform them, murderers) and telling women, as one person said to me just two days ago, “[choice] has nothing to do with what you do with your body. Its what you do to another body simply residing in yours.” To make matters even worse, as if the stupid and sexist things these people say aren’t bad enough, over the course of the past two years, the GOP has introduced 916 anti-choice bills all across the country and the official GOP platform for 2012 states that abortion should be illegal in all cases, including rape and incest.

The level of dipshittery being displayed is so mindbogglingly stupid, so sole-witheringly terrifying, it’s utterly and deeply depressing and tiresome. And I’m tired. I’m tired of arguing with people who refuse to see reason. I’m tired of arguing with people who honestly believe that they have a right to tell women when and how they can and should become mothers. I’m tired of trying to explain to these people that while they’re entitled to their personal opinions within the confines of their personal lives, they do not have the right to force anyone else to live by their personal paradigms. I’m tired of the hateful and cruel and evil (yes, evil) words and actions being hurled at women.

I’m tired. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. But I will not give in. I will not back down, there’s too much at stake. I will stand. I will crawl. I will drag myself across the fires of hell if I must and will not rest until the gates of hell have been broken down. Until the rights my forebearers fought so hard to secure are clad in titanium and set in stone, I will continue to fight back for as long as it takes. The point at which you feel you can fight no longer is the point at which you must fight harder. This is more than fight for rights, it’s a fight for survival.

An open letter to Anti-Choicers

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Dear Anti-choicers (aka pro-lifers),

Stop. Stop it right now. Yeah, you with your holier-than-thou, pseudo-moralistic, self-righteous stare. Knock it off. Stop trying to dictate the actions, choices,  and lifestyles of consenting adults. You there, who decries the alleged evils of big government, stop supporting people who want to control the lives of consenting individuals. You’re speaking from both sides of your mouth and you sound like a hypocritical dipshit. Oh yeah, I said it. Until you have to deal with ass-nuggets, like yourselves, treating your body like public property, you haven’t a clue what “big government” really is or what it really means to have your rights infringed upon.

Too harsh? Too bad. Quite frankly, I have had enough of you and your lies. You claim to want to “save” the unborn. Great. But what about the already born? Where are you for them? Where are you to save the already living, breathing children, huh? Where are you for the nearly 21,000 children, worldwide, who die from poverty each day? Where are you for the 72 million children, all around the world, who do not have access to education? Where were you for the nearly 2 million children who have, in the past decade, died as a result of war; or the millions more who are living in war-torn nations, in fear of death or injury? There is far more to “saving a life” than merely preventing abortion. And until you’re willing to tackle the horrors of this world that rob the already living of their lives, that inhibits them from having a good life, then you’re not pro-life and you need to stop pretending to be.

In truth the majority of you are anti-choice. You have no desire to preserve life, you merely want to control the bodies of women. I tell you now, stop it! You anti-choicers need to get over yourselves and stop trying to dictate the personal lives of other consenting adults. I demand that you get out of my private life, especially my uterus; it’s mine and your personal beliefs are not welcome in it. It is my life and my choice, in the end it is I who will have to live with the consequences of my actions not you, so go away and leave our bodies alone.

To the anti-choicers out there who are men, I have this to say: It is so easy for you, you who has never and will never be faced with the full responsibility of pregnancy, to act as if you have the right answers. You do not, nor will you ever, know what it is truly like to carry a developing life inside of you and to have to face all of the fear, uncertainty, and (for those of us who choose to become mothers) hope that comes with it. You are free to impregnate and leave, but it is the woman who must, by sheer force of biology, carry the full burden of pregnancy with her. I have been asked by some amongst you why it is that being a man keeps you from having a right to decide? Well let me ask you this, why does being a woman force me to not have a choice as to whether or not I become and/or remain pregnant if I do not want to? Does being a born a woman forever preclude any personal autonomy or right to choose my own destiny?

To all of you anti-choicers I say that unless you have to bear the burden, unless you have to endure the pain, you can take your opinion and cram it. Your personal opinion has no place in my private life, or anyone else’s. You are not my father or my mother, you are not my sister or my brother, you are not my friend, nor are you my husband; therefore what you think I should do with my personal life, with my body, is of no consequence to me and I don’t want you telling me, or the women I know and love, what we can and cannot do with our lives and our bodies.

Sincerely,
Karen~ wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and -always- woman.

Confession of an Unaborted Fetus

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What annoys me most about the anti-choice (or as they like to call themselves, “pro-life”) camp, is that in their fight to “save” embryos and fetuses, which they believe are people, from abortion, they assume that the resulting person will embrace life and be grateful for it. This assumption itself also assumes, wrongly so, that every parent will love and nurture their child and that every child will be born into a family that can and will provide for them. Anti-choicers live in a fantasy world of their own imagining; a world in which they ignore the hard truths of the real world, a world filled with poverty, neglect, and abuse.

Truth be told, I would love to live in the world that anti-choicers pretend exists; a world in which every embryo would become a baby who would be welcomed and loved and taken care of. But I do not, instead I live in this world; a world in which millions of children are born into homes that are trapped in poverty or into homes where one or both parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol. In this world, every year millions of children suffer from neglect and/or abuse, be it sexual, emotional, or physical. In this world, every day thousands of children die of diseases from lack of healthcare, from starvation or malnutrition, or from war.

I wonder if anti-choicers have ever once stopped in their self-righteous crusade to consider whether or not these children would have preferred abortion to birth. In all of the rhetoric about the sanctity of life, have they ever once contemplated the quality of the life that unaborted embryos and fetuses might one day live? I don’t think they ever really have. I wonder that if they knew that there were people in this world right now, who, if given a choice, would have preferred abortion to a life of pain and suffering, if they would put as much effort into making the world a better place as they do into filling it with more people?

Surely, at this moment, many of you are thinking that it is highly unlikely, if not wholly impossible, for anyone to think that abortion would have been the better choice for them, and their mothers. But I assure you, there are.  I personally know a few people who feel this way. And I admit that I am among them; something I have voiced to very few people. It is not that I do not love my life, because I do. I have much, especially now, for which to be grateful: a loving and supportive husband, a wonderful and darling child, friends who make me laugh and who are always there for me when I need them, a chance to pursue my dreams of being an Historian, and a roof over my head and food on my table. But I endured *a lot* of pain and suffering to get to where I am today; mostly at the hands of a mother who was not fit to be one. Had she aborted  me I would never have had to watch her self-destruct and drag our family down with her. It took years for me to come to terms with the past; and there are times at which I still struggle to not feel angry and sad because of what my mother put us all through. The repercussions of her terrible choices, of her self-loathing and self-centeredness, have affected not only my life but the lives of my own family as well. For this I cannot even bear to have her in my life because even the mere sight of her makes me want to scream at her, to list every ill that has befallen me and those whom I now love as a result of her actions.

I love my life, especially now that I have a family of my own and am becoming the person I had hoped I could be. But a lot of how I have lived my life up to now, the determination to make something of myself and to never let anything break me, comes in part from a need to prove that I am not nor will I ever be her. I’ve gotten better at living for me and for those whom I love, rather than to spite my pain and its source; but that desire to spite it all is still there, deep down, and I doubt it will ever go away completely. Although, I hope it will because I’d rather live life for love and happiness than to spite the pain and self-doubt my mother caused me to feel.

Do not confuse my stating that I think abortion would have saved me from suffering with an adolescent’s temper-tantrum exclamation of,  “I wish I’d never been born,” or with a depressant’s suicidal tendencies. It is not a wish, it is an expression of understanding that life is about more than quantity, more than mere existence; it is about living a good and happy life. And yes, life is not without it’s hardships, but there is a profound difference between difficulty and suffering. Moreover, believing that abortion would have saved me from suffering is not a confession that I want to die because I don’t want to die. I am here now and I have established relationships with people whom I would never want to make suffer the pain of me ending my own life nor would I want to stop living a life that has, because of the choices I have made throughout it, become better and even mostly happy.  Suicide would end a life already established and would hurt the people whom I have come to know and love; whereas having been aborted would have prevented that life from having ever existed at all. I would not know this life. The people in it would never have known or loved me, nor would I have known or loved them. I would simply have never existed. Period. But, since I am here, I will live life to its fullest and I will love, and learn, and be the best human being I can possibly be.

This confession is not to be misconstrued that I think life is a curse because I do not. Life can be, and for many people *is,* wonderful. However, for many of those of us who walk this earth right now, life is pain; often more pain than wonder. We are starving to death. We are living in nations ravaged by war. We are watching one or both parents fall deeper and deeper into addiction (and more often than not depression and attempts at suicide). We are being or have been sexually abused, physically beaten, or emotionally battered. We have been diagnosed with diseases that will prevent us from ever becoming adults. For many of us life is a constant effort to find the aspects of it that make it worth living. Some of us eventually find those aspects and cling to them like a life preserver; holding on to them with every ounce of our being, often worried that they will slip away and plunge us back into the abyss of pain that we fought so hard to not drown in.

I would like for anti-choicers to consider this when they insist that every life is a gift. I would like for anti-choicers to recognize that life, for many of the embryos and fetuses they hope to “save,” will be filled with unimaginable suffering and pain, and that, if they truly wish to “save” life, they start improving its quality while they concern themselves with its quantity.

If there is a sanctity to life, as so many people claim, shouldn’t it be about ensuring that everyone can live the best one possible? I think so.

The Plague of Fear

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It seems to be common concept today, that the world has become a place of greed, selfishness, and violence; that racism and biggotry are alive and well, and that the people have become far too complacent to make a difference.

I certainly agree that complacency is a very real and very prevalent problem. However, as for the rest, I cannot help but think that, for the most part, they are not as pervasive as we are lead to believe. I think “they” (the status quo, the powers that be, the “man behind the curtain”) want us to think this way because it divides us. When we are divided, we are weak and isolated and, as such, we are more easily prone to fear. And fear, to the corporatists and the religious right, is the most valuable of all emotions because it is the most easily manipulated; just look at our post 9/11 world for evidence of that: two wars, the Patriot Act, and a religious revivalism calling for a theocratic state. I think, that if we looked closer, we would see that much of what is coming across as selfishness, racism, and classism, is really more the manifestations of the fear that the corporatists and religious right have spent the better part of the past few decades cultivating and manipulating.

Now, this is not to say that there are not some truly selfish, racist, and/or classist people out there, because there are, I just think that they are the exception rather than the rule. When you look at the political rhetoric of the extreme and religious right (not always one in the same), you see how this is. Religious leaders, like Pat Robertson are clamoring about the impending doom of Sharia Law, while right-wing political leaders insist that illegal immigrants are stealing our jobs, raping our women, and getting our kids hooked on drugs. Everywhere you turn someone on the extreme right is telling us there is something to fear: the gays want to destroy marriage, the terrorist could be hiding anywhere and everywhere, Muslims want to undermine our Christian heritage, there’s a war on Christmas and Easter, the liberals want to take your guns!

Let us look at some of these thing for what they really are:
1) Immigrants, illegal or legal, are not stealing our jobs, the corporations are. Thanks to free trade agreements, such as NAFTA and the WTO, the US has lost 5.3 million jobs.

2) Illegal immigrants are not increasing crime; in fact, several studies have shown that, aside from the act of being here illigally, most of  these immigrants do not engage in violent or other criminal behavior.

3) Sharia Law is not coming to America. Nowhere in America, not in one place in this country, is Sharia Law being introduced let alone enforced. Ironically, though, the Christian right is attempting to impose their interpretations of Biblical law on the nation; for evidence of this all we need to look to is their adament stance against women’s reproductive health and LGTB rights.

4) There is no war on Christmas or Easter. We live a secular society, populated by people of many faiths; therefore, in an attempt to be fair, the media, the government, and the public in general avoid making blatantly religious statements that alienate large numbers of people.  We have religious freedom in this country and, as I wrote in a previous post, it is not just for Christians.  We are all free to practice what we believe and celebrate whatever holidays we choose.  There is no war on Christmas, Easter, or any other holiday the religious right hold dear.

5) Liberals are not trying to take away your guns. Firstly, some of the most stringent gun laws have been proposed by right-wing members of congress. Secondly, gun regulations, which aim to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those deemed mentally unstable, help keep the rest of us safe, they do not prevent law abiding, sane citizens from owning guns; something President Obama recognizes and respects.  I am a liberal, and I respect the Constitutional right for law-abiding and mentally stable citizens to own guns; and I know lots of liberals who think so as well.  

The status quo can only survive if we the people are too busy looking upon our neighbors with suspicion to notice that our freedoms, our livelihoods, and our dreams are turning to smoke and fading away. The status quo can only survive, or rather thrive, if we the people are too afraid of the allegedly impending doom to stand up and demand living wages, quality education, affordable and quality health care, a clean safe environment, an end to unjust wars, and social and economic justice for all. As long as we are afraid, the corporatists maintain their positions of power and continue to reap the benefits of it.

The solution? Well, it’s far easier than you think…the solution is us. If the people start working together, stop seeing each other as enemies and begin to recognize that we are all victims of the same corrupt system, we can begin to affect the change we all want….A government that is truly of, by, and for the people.

This post was originally written, on August 5, 2011, for another blog for which I write. Given the recent mass shootings, the mass turn-out in support of Chick-fil-A, and the general fearful sentiments expressed by people on both sides of the great political divide, I found this post particularly relevant and chose to publish it here. 

The New American “Other:” Why Islamophobia in America is Nothing New and Why We Must Stand Against It.

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I originally wrote this on December 19, 2011 for another blog for which I write, but in light of the recent shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, which claimed the lives of seven human beings, I felt the need to reblog it. The murder, Alex Wagner, mistook the Sikh’s for Muslims, whom he blames for 9/11.

Following September 11, 2001, as we went to war to battle terrorism in lands many of us couldn’t have pointed to on a map before hand, we also began to battle another enemy here at home. It’s an internal struggle with an internal enemy that wields a weapon that, unlike terrorism itself, has the power to destroy the nation we all love. The enemy is hatred, its weapon is the manipulation of fear, and it’s a struggle that affects us all.  In the weeks, months, and years since that clear, cool September morning, we have allowed hatred to manipulate our fears and to turn American against American, reciting rhetoric about who is a “real American,”  and to strip of us of our Constitutional rights, passing such laws as thePatriot Act and NDAA. Since that unexpected and heartbreaking morning, we have allowed our fellow Americans to suffer hate crimes and discrimination at the hands of bigots, to have their Constitutionally protected religious exercise threatened by xenophobes, and to be propagandized as the epitome of religious fanaticism. Since that mournful day we have created a new “other,” a new group of Americans to scapegoat and shun: The Muslim. And it is a shameful violation of our heritage.

Freedom of religion is a fundamental principal of the US. The Bill of Rights, especially the First Amendment, is the foundation upon which this nation was built; it is the reason the US became, and still is for many, the destination for immigrants from all over the world. When the Jews of Eastern Europe began suffering from the violent pogroms of the late 18th and early 19th century, those who fled chose America because they knew that here they’d find some measure of protection. When people, who dared to speak out against the abuses of their leaders in places like the USSR, Cuba, or Sierra Leone, sought refuge they came to the US where free-speech was protected.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve never been perfect. There have been times in the past, much like now, when we have forgotten what makes us a great nation; when a religious, ethnic, or political group was singled out, marginalized, and persecuted. For example, fear of Catholicism was one of the driving forces behind immigration quotas against  the number of certain European groups who could emigrate to the US; it was called National Origins Act of 1927, and it targeted Southern and Eastern Europeans, like the Italians, the Greeks, and the Polish, who were predominately Catholic. In fact, for much of our history Americans, who have been predominately protestant, willingly marginalized Catholics; hatred and distrust was so strong that JFK had to publicly promise that his allegiance lay with the US and not with the Pope. And during WWII, following the attack of Pearl Harbor, we allowed fear of being attacked again to give the government the power to round up over 100,000 Americans of Japanese decent,  across the West Coast, and place them in internment camps, violating their civil rights. Several times in our history we have, out of fear, allowed our free-speech to be limited; for example, during WWI, the fear of communism was so strong that we caved to it and allowed the US government, under the Espionage Act and the Sedition Act, to round up US citizens for simply voicing criticism of the government.

So, as you can see, this is not the first time we have faced this foe as a nation. It is not the first time that we have relented to it in the face of fear. But that does not make it ok, in fact it makes it worse. Why? Because we have been here and done this enough times to know better, to be better than what we have become. We have allowed xenophobia against Islam to erode so much of what makes this nation something of which to be proud, chief amongst them being the provisions of our First Amendment. Of this we should be ashamed and we should fight against it. This is why knowing our true history — the good, the bad, the triumphant, and the shameful – is so profoundly important. In learning from those times past we have the tools necessary to build an even stronger nation. In knowing the past we are less likely to repeat those mistakes with a new “other;” rather, we would be encouraged to strive even harder to protect the rights of *all* Americans and to endeavor to marginalize bigotry and hatred instead of our fellow citizens.

 

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Voting Day is just three months away.

Take Back America

Folks, it is now June, voting day is now FIVE months away. This election, like every election, is important. It is time that we all begin to start seriously considering for whom it is we are going to vote. Luckily, the era of the internet has made this task quite simple and there are now a plethora of sites that compile useful information about politicians to assist us in making well-informed choices.

I will not attempt to sway any of you toward any particular candidate; although, I am not above encouraging you all to take a left turn. 😉 I will, however, offer a bit of advice that I think is useful and deeply important; as you research the voting records and personal stances of the candidates, both incumbent and non, also look into from where and from whom their campaign contributions are coming. If we as a nation can…

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