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Mon May 2, 2016, 02:15 AM

Incremental Progess is No Progress at All

Against Fortress Liberalism

For forty years, liberals have accepted defeat and called it “incremental progress.” Bernie Sanders offers a different way forward.
by Matt Karp

The primary campaign between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has produced the most direct ideological battle the Democratic Party has seen in a generation. It’s not just the policy differences that separate Sanders’s blunt social-democratic platform from Clinton’s neoliberal grab bag. The two candidates embody clashing theories of politics — alternative visions of how to achieve progressive goals within the American political system.

The Bernie Sanders model of change has all the subtlety of an index finger raised high above a debate podium. Lay out a bold, unapologetic vision of reform that speaks directly to people’s basic needs. Connect that vision to existing popular struggles, while mobilizing a broad and passionate coalition to support it (#NotMeUs). Ride this wave of democratic energy to overwhelm right-wing opposition and enact major structural reforms.

The Hillary Clinton model of change, on the other hand, begins not with policy or people but with a politician. Choose an experienced, practical leader who explicitly rejects unrealistic goals. Rally around that leader’s personal qualifications, while defending past achievements and stressing the value of party loyalty (#ImWithHer). Draw on the leader’s expertise to grind away at Congress and accumulate incremental victories that add up to significant reform.


https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/04/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-dnc-primary-moderates/

Excellent analysis.

43 replies, 1311 views

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Arrow 43 replies Author Time Post
Reply Incremental Progess is No Progress at All (Original post)
pmorlan1 May 2016 OP
w4rma May 2016 #1
BootinUp May 2016 #16
qdouble May 2016 #2
uponit7771 May 2016 #26
auntpurl May 2016 #31
bjo59 May 2016 #3
pmorlan1 May 2016 #5
qdouble May 2016 #4
pmorlan1 May 2016 #7
qdouble May 2016 #9
dreamnightwind May 2016 #12
qdouble May 2016 #14
dreamnightwind May 2016 #15
qdouble May 2016 #18
dreamnightwind May 2016 #19
qdouble May 2016 #20
dreamnightwind May 2016 #21
qdouble May 2016 #25
Arneoker May 2016 #30
pmorlan1 May 2016 #41
dreamnightwind May 2016 #42
pmorlan1 May 2016 #43
Arneoker May 2016 #29
Arneoker May 2016 #28
mythology May 2016 #32
silvershadow May 2016 #6
The Second Stone May 2016 #8
qdouble May 2016 #10
pmorlan1 May 2016 #11
The Second Stone May 2016 #13
NurseJackie May 2016 #33
msongs May 2016 #22
The Second Stone May 2016 #39
BootinUp May 2016 #17
moriah May 2016 #23
NurseJackie May 2016 #34
Lisa D May 2016 #35
uponit7771 May 2016 #24
Hoyt May 2016 #27
pnwmom May 2016 #36
Gothmog May 2016 #37
DebDoo May 2016 #38
Live and Learn May 2016 #40

Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:17 AM

1. As the 1% vacuum up more resources, it's been incremental regress. (nt)

 

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Response to w4rma (Reply #1)

Mon May 2, 2016, 03:19 AM

16. That is definitely a huge factor

The pukes are so like puppets on strings now, and I used to think it was bad 20 or so years ago.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:24 AM

2. OP doesn't know how laws are made apparently.

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Response to qdouble (Reply #2)

Mon May 2, 2016, 05:26 AM

26. +1, " Ride this wave of democratic energy to overwhelm right-wing opposition" ..wtf is that?!

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Response to qdouble (Reply #2)

Mon May 2, 2016, 06:37 AM

31. I so agree.

I am genuinely surprised by how few people supporting Bernie Sanders on this site seem to understand how government actually functions.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:26 AM

3. Fantastic article.

It's also heartbreaking... there are enough voters in this country who don't really get what is going on to blindly walk us all off the cliff. I really feel this election could be our last chance to turn things around - to stop the corporate take over of the world or at least slow it down.

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Response to bjo59 (Reply #3)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:30 AM

5. Thank you

I think they are spot on in this piece which is why I wanted to share it. If you care about the direction of the country it's well worth the time to read it. Some will agree and some will disagree. Hopefully they will at least read it.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:28 AM

4. I also find it funny

How people point to FDR when we reject that single payer and free college for all is possible to pass in the current climate, as if these things were laws beforehand that we somehow lost. There are many areas in which the country has indeed incrementally moved to the left on...but now we're somehow pretending that the democratic party was once ruled by socialists and had laws that are radically different than what we have now passed?

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Response to qdouble (Reply #4)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:33 AM

7. Did you read the piece?

Do you think Social Security or Medicare could be passed incrementally?

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Response to pmorlan1 (Reply #7)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:42 AM

9. We'd have to substantiate what exactly is "incremental" and what is not

from reading posts on here, incremental change basically means anything less than everything you want. Social Security and Medicare still leave large gaps in social issues that need to be dealt with or we wouldn't be campaigning for additional change now.

I just thoroughly reject the notion that if we don't get all the change we want, that making some positive change is somehow worse than nothing at all or going in the opposite direction.

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Response to qdouble (Reply #9)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:59 AM

12. Straw-man

Nobody here is claiming we have to get everything we want. We have to fight for it, and that's how we make progress, not by electing corporatists who tell us they're for it but never fight for it and behind closed doors tell corporations whose side they're really on.

We are close to nominating a candidate who is on the wrong side of virtually every major issue we are up against, campaign rhetoric aside. We'll get a small bone or two if she is elected, the corporate interests will get the world. That's not progress, and there's no time anymore, climate change is going crazy and passing more tipping points, people are jobless and hopeless, or working without hope of ever getting ahead, while our party pushes job and wage-killing trade agreements. That's not progress.

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #12)

Mon May 2, 2016, 03:09 AM

14. It's not a strawman...

if You claim that making incremental progress is no progress at all, you're shifting the reality of the situation (i.e. progress = progress) to an alternate reality (i.e. not enough progress = no progress at all).

Real life doesn't work that way. There's been incremental progress with marijuana, gay rights, health care, energy, etc, etc... but it doesn't fit your narrative, so you'll have shit like the OP that creates an alternate reality in which no progress has taken place since FDR or some BS.

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Response to qdouble (Reply #14)

Mon May 2, 2016, 03:17 AM

15. It isn't progress because

we are losing so much more ground than we're gaining, and our own party is enabling it.

The energy progress you mention is beyond pathetic given the urgency of climate change. The health are progress you mention got access for more people but at the expense of locking in a guaranteed market and profits for a kleptocracy called the health insurance industry, a Republican idea that had been rejected when proposed by Republicans. Marijuana has made exactly zero progress on the federal level, despite overwhelming demand for them to do so. And Hillary doesn't support legalizing it anyway.

If you go forward 2 steps and go back 3, is that progress? Why no, it's not.

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #15)

Mon May 2, 2016, 03:29 AM

18. Making baby steps forward does not equal taking two steps back...

it's bad mathematics. The TRUTH of the situation is that we've made progress on energy, more people can access healthcare, the FED has backed down from marijuana enforcement and society is shifting to the left. Me and you can both agree that society/government should go even further to the left.

However, to suggest that we've gone forward two steps but have gone back 3, is to suggest that we're relying more and more on coal and we're getting worse on climate change/energy. It means that less Americans have access to healthcare... it means that America is becoming more conservative, etc... but these things are simply not true.

Incremental change = change. Simply because the degree of change is not as drastic as one would like doesn't mean you can repaint reality to make it seem like we're moving backwards.

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Response to qdouble (Reply #18)

Mon May 2, 2016, 03:46 AM

19. No it is to suggest we are rapidly losing to climate change

re the rest, net change = progress - regress, obviously.

A question for you, did you read the article in the OP? I'm in the process of reading it. It's long so takes awhile, worth it though.

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #19)

Mon May 2, 2016, 03:58 AM

20. I read it and take it to be specious/populist rhetoric at best

Bottom up, youthful and exuberant politics has it's moments in time...and there are indeed times when we have a lot of change and times when there's very little change....but a lot of this is simply glamorization and nostalgia. Politics is often boring and local and hard fought.

Also, people who advocate incremental change aren't completely adverse to dramatic change, so the article and this argument in general, just creates a false dichotomy.

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Response to qdouble (Reply #20)

Mon May 2, 2016, 04:04 AM

21. Not really, no

It is not a false dichotomy, though I'm not surprised you want to present it as such. Corporate politicians and populists are not working towards the same interests. And we are in the most urgent of times, no time for corporatists, and no time for arguing with Brock's minions. Good bye.

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #21)

Mon May 2, 2016, 05:25 AM

25. Every election is always the "most urgent of times"

It's chicken little, reactionary politics of the political extremes. Sorry, the world isn't black and white....and no America won't crumble since your candidate doesn't get elected. However, if naming anyone who doesn't agree with you "Brock's minions" makes you feel good about yourself, fine. Your ilk will continue to pout in the corner while the adults carry on with business as usual.

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #19)

Mon May 2, 2016, 06:24 AM

30. Climate change is indeed very serious, probably more than we thought

But the renewables sector is exploding, so there is some hope. Of course, you could say that it is only exploding in increments.

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #19)

Mon May 2, 2016, 05:25 PM

41. Thanks

for all of your comments and I'm glad you liked the piece. I thought it was very interesting. But, it sure as hell touched a nerve among some here.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Reply #41)

Mon May 2, 2016, 05:31 PM

42. You're quite welcome

Thanks for the OP! I haven't gotten through the whole article, so much info so little time. But I've read a lot of it and it is interesting for sure, I'll try to finish it later. You're offending all the right people.

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #42)

Mon May 2, 2016, 06:07 PM

43. LOL

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #15)

Mon May 2, 2016, 05:36 AM

29. Oh gee, then I'll just drop my health insurance

because someone, somewhere is making a profit out of it. The healthcare benefits for my family and self are not nearly as important.

Of course ACA needs to be improved, just as Social Security and Medicare have been bolstered over the years.

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Response to dreamnightwind (Reply #12)

Mon May 2, 2016, 05:31 AM

28. How is not getting all that you want NOT incremental (assuming of course you even make progress)?

So much of the time the "That's a strawman argument," comment is a way of trying to have it both ways. And I am and at a loss to see how all of this largely meaningless rhetoric shows how Bernie Sanders would achieve substantially, if not radically, greater progress than Hillary Clinton, especially when rubber meets the road of goals meeting reality.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Reply #7)

Mon May 2, 2016, 07:26 AM

32. Given that Social Security was passed incrementally, yes I do

 

Here's a hint, when originally passed Social Security explicitly excluded blacks at the behest of southern Democrats.

Here are some other changes made to Social Security over the years:

https://www.ssa.gov/history/1950.html

August 28, 1950 The President signed the 1950 Social Security Amendments. This legislation extended coverage under the old-age and survivors insurance program to about 10 million more persons; it liberalized the eligibility conditions; it improved the retirement test; it provided wage credits of $160 a month for military service from September 1940 to July 1947; it increased benefits substantially; it raised the wage base for tax and benefit computation purposes; it provided a new contribution schedule; and it eliminated the 1944 provision authorizing appropriations to the trust fund from the General Treasury.

July 18, 1952 The Social Security Act of 1952 was signed into law by President Truman. It increased benefits under the old-age and survivors insurance program. It also extended the period of wage credits for military service through December 31, 1953; it liberalized the retirement test and raised the retirement test from $50 to $75 a month. Finally it changed, for a two year period, the grant formula for public assistance payments to make additional funds available to the States.

September 1, 1954 The Social Security Act was amended to extend old-age and survivors insurance coverage to self-employed farmers, self-employed members of specified professions, additional farm and domestic employees; on a voluntary group basis to members of State and local Government retirement systems; and through election by individual ministers and members of religious orders, and protected the benefit rights of disabled persons through a disability freeze provision.

September 2, 1958 The Technical Amendments of 1958 were signed. They permitted a taxpayer who was 65 and disabled to deduct up to $15,000 in medical expenses instead of being subject to the normal ceilings.

More links here:

https://www.ssa.gov/history/chrono.html

So yes, obviously a program like Social Security was passed incrementally, because it was passed incrementally.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:31 AM

6. Not at this point, that's for sure. It would be like spitting into the ocean. In other words,

 

status quo.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:36 AM

8. All the success Bernie Sanders has ever had in getting legislation passed has been

 

in incremental amendments. If you think incrementalism has failed, tell that to the 40 million people who can now get medical coverage despite pre-existing conditions, or the LGBT people whose marriages are recognized and preformed in 50 states.

Those may mean nothing to you, but they are everything to those people.

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Response to The Second Stone (Reply #8)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:44 AM

10. +1

Most progress that comes out of a stable society is incremental.

There's plenty of signs that society is becoming less conservative and more progressive...but it doesn't fit the narrative of the far left so they ignore it.

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Response to The Second Stone (Reply #8)

Mon May 2, 2016, 02:45 AM

11. You Didn't Read this Piece, Did You?

Ironically it is university students themselves — less certain of their own class position than generations past — who have responded most warmly to his call for a revival of mass politics.

Unlike fortress liberals or professional elites, Sanders and his young backers recognize that the vital element in any progressive struggle is the ability to generate energy from the bottom up.

Indoor expertise without outdoor protest; shrewd deal-making without mass mobilization; mastery of details without popular momentum — these are the proper tools of conservative politics, and have been since at least the era of Metternich.

Democratic struggle requires something else. In this election season, Max Weber’s dictum that politics is “a strong and slow boring of hard boards” has frequently been dragooned into duty as a grave defense of Clintonian incrementalism.

But the most famous carpentry analogy in the history of politics does not offer complex instructions on how to assemble an IKEA wall cabinet. Instead it insists on the vigorous application of force through a simple machine. It is Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, who seems to understand that the only way to produce force is by multiplying mass and acceleration.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Reply #11)

Mon May 2, 2016, 03:03 AM

13. Yes, I read it, and your post is condescending and ignorant

 

it entirely mischaracterizes the success of the past generation of liberals, generally smears it and extols the virtues of of ideologies proven to be violent failures over and over again throughout history.

I will vote and speak and write against revolutionaries, socialists and jacobins in America my entire life. Get used to it.

You may think that the civil rights successes liberals have accomplished with the rights of racial and LGBT minorities are too incremental for your taste, but they are more than you will accomplished or will ever accomplish, which is nothing.

Condescend all you want. You are ignorant in both experience and book learning, and have so much hubris in your ignorance that you think the opposite is true.

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Response to The Second Stone (Reply #13)

Mon May 2, 2016, 07:27 AM

33. Excellent reply ... thank you!

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Response to pmorlan1 (Reply #11)

Mon May 2, 2016, 04:04 AM

22. university students are responding to the call of FREE stuff nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #22)

Mon May 2, 2016, 12:25 PM

39. I don't think Sanders is callling for "free stuff"

 

but rather spending priorities, without saying how he would allocate the money the government uses. I think that is a serious flaw in our particular system and over spending on military matters.

Neither health care nor education can be "free" in the sense that it does not have an allocation of resources. Both should be available to citizens and paid for largely through taxes.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 03:22 AM

17. I didn't read it all, but it llooked like the author left out Obama's terms and the ACA for example.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 04:35 AM

23. Say that when in 1996 no gay people could get married, but they can in 2016.

Say that when we have went from just a few states that allow MMJ to having two allowing it for recreational use legally.

Say that when ColoradoCare is on this year's ballot, allowing Colorado to pilot a single payer system very similar to Bernie's -- with the 2017 PPACA "state innovation waiver" that's set to go.

On edit: my very Progressive mother told me, when I turned 12 in 1992, that she would love me no matter who I loved, but that for my own sake she hoped I was straight because of the stigma and legal difficulties -- that I wouldn't be able to get married, have/adopt kids, etc. That she would always love me, she just didn't want to see her child be discriminated against and suffer.

Now, all a parent really has to say is "I'll love you no matter what."

Yes, incremental progress is progress.

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Response to moriah (Reply #23)

Mon May 2, 2016, 07:34 AM

34. Team Instant Gratification ...

... wants results as quickly as the get from the clicky clicky online polls.

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Response to moriah (Reply #23)

Mon May 2, 2016, 07:41 AM

35. Great post.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 05:20 AM

24. More basher sophistry, FDR had an 80% progressive congress... you want fast change get a congress

... that's that dominated by the left and you'll get it otherwise sit and complain some more.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 05:27 AM

27. Too bad we didn't get some incrementalism in 1994 with Hillarycare. We'd have a good system now.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 07:47 AM

36. Medicare has made incremental progress with a number of important changes over the years.

No one would say Medicare didn't represent progress.

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 09:27 AM

37. Kevin Drum-Here's Why I Never Warmed Up to Bernie Sanders

Sanders revolution was a bust and was never going to happen and the attacks of the Sanders followers on incrementialism were really sad and silly http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/04/heres-why-i-never-warmed-bernie-sanders

Bernie's explanation for everything he wants to do—his theory of change, or theory of governing, take your pick—is that we need a revolution in this country. The rich own everything. Income inequality is skyrocketing. The middle class is stagnating. The finance industry is out of control. Washington, DC, is paralyzed.....

Like it or not, you don't build a revolution on top of an economy like this. Period. If you want to get anything done, you're going to have to do it the old-fashioned way: through the slow boring of hard wood.

Why do I care about this? Because if you want to make a difference in this country, you need to be prepared for a very long, very frustrating slog. You have to buy off interest groups, compromise your ideals, and settle for half loaves—all the things that Bernie disdains as part of the corrupt mainstream establishment. In place of this he promises his followers we can get everything we want via a revolution that's never going to happen. And when that revolution inevitably fails, where do all his impressionable young followers go? Do they join up with the corrupt establishment and commit themselves to the slow boring of hard wood? Or do they give up?

I don't know, but my fear is that some of them will do the latter. And that's a damn shame. They've been conned by a guy who should know better, the same way dieters get conned by late-night miracle diets. When it doesn't work, they throw in the towel.

Most likely Bernie will have no lasting effect, and his followers will scatter in the usual way, with some doubling down on practical politics and others leaving for different callings. But there's a decent chance that Bernie's failure will result in a net increase of cynicism about politics, and that's the last thing we need. I hate the idea that we might lose even a few talented future leaders because they fell for Bernie's spiel and then got discouraged when it didn't pan out.

I'll grant that my pitch—and Hillary's and Barack Obama's—isn't very inspiring. Work your fingers to the bone for 30 years and you might get one or two significant pieces of legislation passed. Obviously you need inspiration too. But if you don't want your followers to give up in disgust, your inspiration needs to be in the service of goals that are at least attainable. By offering a chimera instead, Bernie has done the progressive movement no favors.

Sanders revolution was the cheap and sad way to get things done. In the real world one has to work hard to implement change but Sanders was not up to that task. Instead of actually getting things done, Sanders promised a magical revolution where major changes could be accomplished by magic and not by hard work.

Politics is hard work and relying on a magical revolution to change things does not work. I like living in the real world and I know that change involves hard work

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 09:42 AM

38. 2 steps back, 1 step forward - woohoo, we went a forward!

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Response to pmorlan1 (Original post)

Mon May 2, 2016, 12:35 PM

40. K&R nt

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