Higher Education – University Funding – Course Delivery Threats

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Presently we see results of neo-liberal policies in education, including higher education and universities having budgets cut, with research, course content and study choices manipulated through favouring STEM over liberal arts of humanities.

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether focused upon climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes.

 

Excerpts from Inside Story Australia:

 

The four-and-a-half-decade higher education squeeze

 

Rodney Tiffen 17 JUNE 2020

 

Calls for universities to reduce their reliance on international students ignore the incentives created by successive governments

 

‘It’s a long time — forty-five years in fact — since government funding of tertiary education peaked in Australia at 1.5 per cent of GDP. These days, the government contributes 0.8 per cent, or just over half that proportion. Back in 1975, around 277,000 students were enrolled in higher education; by 2016, the number had increased fivefold to 1.46 million.

 

Those figures capture the essential story of Australian universities over the past forty-five years: massive growth combined with declining public investment.

 

The suddenness of the Coronavirus pandemic has hit Australian universities very hard, but the acuteness of their problems has been greatly exacerbated by trends that have been building for decades. The federal government has offered much less support to universities than to other deeply affected parts of the economy, and many conservative commentators have used this as yet another occasion to criticise the sector.

 

Backbench Liberal senator James Paterson (graduate of the Koch affiliated IPA), for instance, says that “universities have not done themselves many favours in recent years,” as if reacting to the diminishing level of public support, especially from his own party, has not been a central driver of the strategies for survival universities have had to adopt.

 

Over the period 1989 to 2017, domestic student enrolments more than doubled, according to former Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, yet the federal government’s contribution to operating costs rose only by a third. Between 1995 and 2005, when OECD governments increased their contributions to tertiary education by an average of 49.4 per cent after inflation, the Howard government provided no real increase at all.

 

As Glyn Davis wrote before the pandemic, “By withdrawing public funding, government has deeded Australia a university system that relies heavily on the families of Asia. If our neighbours tire of cross-subsidising Australian students, the number of local places would shrink rapidly.”

 

The pandemic has thrown university budgets into chaos. No other sector so badly affected by the coronavirus has been treated with so little sympathy, let alone tangible support. It seems the government’s cultural antipathy to universities overrides all else…..

 

There has been an ever present battle over universities and education, not just in Australia on funding, nor recently but in the past e.g. Milton Friedman in 1955 essay “The role of government in education” for the minds and wiring of students.  

 

In some places it is normal for fringe right wing parties new to a governing coalition to request seemingly unrelated portfolios of defence, home affairs, and education…..  Control of the latter gives control over curriculum content and the hidden curriculum; Jane Mayer describes (in ‘Dark Money’, as does MacLean ‘Democracy in Chains) the machinations going on in US (and further) by radical right libertarian donors to not just change what people think, but how they think… (or not).

 

Over generations there has been a move to more liberal student versus teacher and authority centred learning, both overtly and via the hidden curriculum.

 

Hence the curriculum is based on freedom, discovery, experience and creativity, as opposed to engaging with a pre-existing body of knowledge to which the teacher is an authoritative and wise guide.

 

(Liberals, Libertarians and Educational Theory – Lindsay Paterson, 2008)

 

MacLean (like Mayer) has also upset the libertarians:

 

Stealth Attack on Liberal Scholar? Historian alleges coordinated criticism of her latest book, which is critical of radical right, from many who have received Koch funding.

 

Collusion, alternative facts, shadowy billionaires: the words sound ripped from the political headlines, but they also describe the controversy surrounding Duke University historian Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking)….

 

…..Some nevertheless say they worry that swarm-style attacks on progressive scholars’ works — especially in an era of online harassment of professors and plummeting public trust in academe — could become a new normal. MacLean, they say, is the victim of just such an effort.

 

But taking advantage of student centred or liberal approaches can go both ways.  Such antipathy towards the humanities and scholarship does not preclude the likes of Kochs promoting their own ideology through funding academic schools’ programs or research, think tanks and lobbying MPs to promote their ideology e.g. George Mason University, many GOP politicians and think tanks (globally) affiliated through their Atlas Network, e.g. IPA Institute of Public Affairs in Australia promotes climate change denialism. (from Crikey Australia).

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes, into the future…..

 

For more blogs and articles about Ageing democracy, Australian politics, career guidance, climate change, conservative, Covid-19, critical thinking, curriculum, demography, economics, environment, fossil fuel pollutiongovernment budgets, higher education teaching, instructional design, international education, international student, learning theory, nativism, pedagogy, political strategy, populist politics, science literacy, soft skills, student centred, VET vocational education and training, work skills and younger generations.

Create Growth for Society not Wealth for the Rich

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Much discussion of economic policies, business and government, especially in the Anglo world, revolves around monetarist or libertarian need for lower business and personal taxes, trickle down effect, few government services, smaller government and talk of individual prosperity.  However, the result has led to increasing indebtedness, more wealth for the already wealthy, more significant spread in the gini coefficient and sub-optimal economies.

 

From Inside Story:

 

Need growth? Scrap policies that favour rich people and monopolies

 

Adam Triggs 1 June 2020

 

Breaking self-perpetuating cycles of rising inequality will be key to Australia’s economic recovery

 

The American economy was stuck in a vicious cycle before Covid-19. With highly indebted poorer households spending less, demand was falling and economic growth had been weakened. To stimulate activity, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to make borrowing cheaper, resulting in even more debt and worry. And so the cycle started over again.

 

New research from economists Atif Mian, Ludwig Straub and Amir Sufi shows that this cycle is fuelled by inequality. Wealthy people have cornered a greater share of national income, and are saving more. Less well-off people are receiving a smaller share of income, and borrowing more. The resulting decline in interest rates has kept the cycle going.

 

It sounds eerily similar to the situation in Australia, and it’s not the only cycle that’s increasing inequality. A lack of competition between firms is having a similar effect: transferring wealth from poor consumers to rich shareholders. Breaking these self-perpetuating cycles will be critical to Australia’s economic recovery.

 

The nub of the problem is that rich people have a nasty habit: they save too much and spend too little. This isn’t necessarily a problem if their savings are invested in expanding businesses, creating jobs and contributing to economic activity. Sadly, though, Australia’s well-documented increase in inequality hasn’t been accompanied by an increase in investment. Quite the opposite: while inequality has grown, investment has flatlined.

 

Mian, Straub and Sufi’s research shows that this “savings glut of the rich,” as they call it, is creating as well as financing the debts of the non-rich. Too much saving and too little investment has depressed interest rates; and lower interest rates are fuelling debt levels among non-rich households, which are borrowing to keep up. For the first time, this research shows, the rise in the share of income taken by the rich can explain almost all of the increased household debt of the non-rich……

 

What to do?

 

Australia’s inequality problem isn’t new, but we are becoming increasingly aware of just how damaging it is economically, politically and socially. More alarmingly, we are learning how the macroeconomic and competition effects are creating self-perpetuating cycles of inequality. The recovery from Covid-19 will require deep structural reform to lift growth, and also presents an opportunity to break these cycles through holistic reform of tax, welfare and competition.

 

The tax system is too generous to the rich, and the welfare system is too mean to the poor…..

 

We can also change the welfare system to directly reduce poverty and thus inequality…..

 

To boost competition, the government should reform the laws that shield many industries from competition — including those in airlines, pharmacies, coastal shipping, the legal profession and the medical profession……

 

The laws regulating mergers and acquisitions should be tightened to guarantee more scrutiny of proposed mergers in industries that are already concentrated…….

 

Past epidemics have one thing in common: they made inequality worse. There’s no reason to think Covid-19 will be any different. The Australian economy can’t afford to snap back to old habits. 

 

For more articles about Australian politics, business strategy, consumer behaviour, economics, finance, GDP growth, global trade, small business and strategic management.

 

Impact of EU Regulations and Standards on Global Markets

The Brussels Effect – The EU’s Impact upon Global Markets

In her important new book, Columbia Law professor Anu Bradford argues the EU remains an influential superpower that shapes the world in its image. By promulgating regulations that shape the international business environment, elevating standards worldwide, and leading to a notable Europeanization of many important aspects of global commerce, the EU has managed to shape policy in areas such as data privacy, consumer health and safety, environmental protection, antitrust, and online hate speech.

 

The Brussels Effect shows how the EU has acquired such power, why multinational companies use EU standards as global standards, and why the EU’s role as the world’s regulator is likely to outlive its gradual economic decline, extending the EU’s influence long into the future.

 

From Politico EU on The Brussels Effect:
THE BRUSSELS EFFECT: Anu Bradford, a professor at Columbia Law School, wrote the book on EU influence — literally. In early 2020, she published “The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World.” It details how the European Union manages to unilaterally regulate the global market.

 

“All the EU needs to do is to regulate [its internal] single market, and it is then the global companies that globalize those EU rules,” she told me during a pre-coronavirus trip to Brussels in early March. The most obvious example of this phenomenon, she said, is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

 

Global influence: As international awareness of the EU’s regulatory power has grown, there’s been “a massive increase in the presence of foreign companies in Brussels” and their efforts to lobby institutions, said Bradford. “Because when you think about it, if you manage to influence the regulatory process in the EU, you can influence the regulations across the world.”

 

Despite the increased international lobbying effort, “we don’t see that lobbying [has] led to weak regulations,” according to Bradford. She contrasts this with the U.S. where corporate influence often undermines U.S. regulations. She chalks up this difference to the comparatively stronger influence of civil society in the legislative and rule-making process in the EU.

 

Bradford said this leads to “a more balanced outcome in the end, but certainly there is an awareness and attempt on behalf of the corporations to influence the outcomes.”

 

Civil society strength: Alberto Alemanno, founder of civil society NGO The Good Lobby, offers a slightly different view. He says that corporate influence in the EU, as well as the U.S., “is on average more successful in bureaucratic arenas” compared to NGOs and citizen groups. But, he added, “the different role EU civil society plays in shaping policymaking may have more to do with institutional features (EU technocratic apparatus’ incentives to engage with civil society, European Parliament’s increased power, lesser role of money in politics) than with NGOs’ inherent strength.”

 

And what about the coronavirus? Of course, Bradford’s “Brussels effect” will be tested by the pandemic. She believes that “unless globalization comes to a drastic halt (which it likely will not), the Brussels Effect will continue,” she wrote to me more recently via email.

 

But she is monitoring a few developments. This includes whether the crisis leads to more or less regulation, depending on whether there is an appetite for more or less EU after things settle down.

 

She also believes the technocratic nature of EU rule-making “insulates it to some degree from the crises.” But the uncertainty and disruption “will likely slow down the regulatory process in the immediate future.” This includes the EU’s new digital strategy, where the crisis may force officials to rethink its regulation of data and technology more broadly.

 

For more related blogs and articles on the EU European Union, economics, environment,  digital marketing and the EU GDPR click through.

Using Government Debt in COVID-19 Crisis

After decades of neo-liberalism, especially the Anglo world, with demands to cut budgets, taxes and government services due to supposed unaffordable and unsustainable government debt, the truth is otherwise. Australia has relatively low government debt of little over 40% of GDP while household debt has become high and possibly unsustainable at more than 120%.

 

However, with the COVID-19 crisis and historically low interest rates, Australia is an excellent position to use debt attractive globally, in supporting the economy, not unlike the GFC period Labor government’s Keynesian money drop which allowed Australia to be less affected than most economies and not going into recession.

 

Following is an excellent article summarising the benefits and countering the supposed negatives of using debt in challenging times.

 

From Inside Story:

 

Before anyone asks: no, Australia does not have a debt problem

 

ADAM TRIGGS

 

30 MARCH 2020

 

And that means government spending is overwhelmingly beneficial in these crisis conditions.

 

Much is uncertain about the Covid-19 crisis, but two things are clear: government debt is about to become much bigger, and there’ll be no shortage of commentators who will say that’s a problem.

 

G20 governments have collectively announced more than $5 trillion in fiscal stimulus, with more to come. The Australian government’s measures, including yesterday’s $130 billion spending package, are broadly in line with other countries. So should we be worried about the consequent growth in government debt?

 

The answer is a clear and resounding no. Whether this new debt is justified depends on the benefit of the increased spending versus the cost of that spending and, in the current environment, the benefit is substantial while the costs are minimal.

 

Fiscal stimulus will avoid the current crisis turning into an economic catastrophe, a fact that appears to be well understood by the public. The lesson from the Great Depression is that my spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If we all stop spending at our local restaurants, the owners and workers in those restaurants lose their income. They spend less in other businesses, which lose their income too, producing a vicious downward spiral that ends in economic collapse. The solution is for the government and Reserve Bank to step in and substantially increase spending and support businesses to fill the gap until the private sector recovers.

 

Failing to expand government significantly would have catastrophic long-term consequences: huge increases in the number of unemployed people (many of whom will never work again), the destruction of thousands of healthy businesses (many of which will never recover), and the permanent destruction of income, wealth and the earning potential of our young people, to say nothing of increased suicides, increased mortality among the very young and very old, increased domestic violence, increased attacks on minority groups, the rise of political extremes and the increased probability of war. The benefits of increased spending are simply enormous.

 

Conversely, the costs of increased government spending are very low. These costs typically come in three forms.

 

The first is the potential for increased government spending to “crowd out” the private sector. When governments run budget deficits they are borrowing money from investors, money which is no longer going to other worthy investments. Increased demand on the limited pool of savings, in normal times, means higher interest rates (which make it more expensive for businesses to invest and households to borrow) and an appreciated exchange rate (making our exports more expensive than those from other countries). The increased government spending stimulates inflation, meaning higher prices for all of us. In normal times, then, increased government spending can hurt businesses, households and individuals.

 

But these are not normal times. Even before Covid-19 the world was awash with savings, which is why interest rates and inflation were so low. The current crisis means even more savings, even less demand for those savings and even lower interest rates and inflation, and an exchange rate that’s less responsive to increased government spending. Put simply, the costs of increased government spending in normal times do not apply.

 

The second potential cost of increased government spending is the future cost of paying interest on that debt. This is minimal in the current environment. The interest rate the Australian government pays on new debt is at its lowest level in history — just 0.8 per cent for money borrowed for ten years. Households and businesses can only dream of being able to borrow that cheaply. This is why it makes perfect sense for the burden of stimulating the economy to be placed on the government since it can borrow so much more easily and cheaply than households or businesses. This is also why it makes no sense to be asking households to access their superannuation (especially given they are already losing their jobs, taking wage cuts and watching their super balances plummet) or asking small businesses to take out loans (whether profit-contingent or otherwise). Stimulus should come from the lowest-cost supplier, and that’s the government.

 

Some might worry whether this increase in debt would mean higher taxes in the future, but there is no reason this needs to be the case. The reason a $10 million debt is a bigger problem for me than it is for Gina Rinehart is the same reason economists look at debt as a percentage of GDP — the denominator matters. The best strategy for reducing debt is to generate economic growth. The maths is simple. If the Australian economy resumes its long-run average growth rate after the current crisis, any increase in debt as a percentage of GDP will halve within twenty years. People would need to start having kids very early in life for this to become an intergenerational debt burden.

 

The third cost of increased government spending is that it can be unsustainable (meaning it can cause problems if that level of spending continues) or can destabilise financial markets. The sustainability of Australia’s current increase in spending is not a concern because it is temporary and doesn’t change the long-run growth rate of debt. Financial stability is not a concern given Australia’s debt is seen as a safe-haven by financial markets: this is why investors are willing to accept pathetically low interest rates for the honour of being able to finance our debt. Even if private investors stopped financing the government’s debt, or charged prohibitively high interest rates to do so, the Reserve Bank would take over that debt, safe in the knowledge that inflation is non-existent and the debt is denominated in our own currency.

 

All of this means that Australia won’t come out of this crisis with a debt problem. The International Monetary Fund ranks Australia’s fiscal position as being in the highest category possible, meaning there is ample room to substantially increase spending. The Australian government could increase debt by three-quarters of a trillion dollars — far more than anyone is suggesting — and still have less debt as a percentage of our economy than the average among its G20 peers.

 

Sadly, this will not prevent a flood of commentators and politicians in the coming months warning of an impending debt crisis in Australia. As soon as the health crisis shows the faintest sign of abating, or perhaps even before then, the government will face tremendous political pressure to cut spending and pay down debt. It is no doubt already facing calls to limit stimulus out of fears of future debt. To protect the living standards of Australians, it must withstand this deeply misguided advice.’

 

For more articles about Australian politics, populist politics, economics and government budgets click through.

Anglo Radical Right Libertarianism and Economics

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The Anglo world especially including the US, UK and Australia, and elsewhere, have been subjected to neo classical economics, monetarist etc. theories exemplified by demands for small government, low taxation, cuts to state services, low regulation etc., with unwitting support from conservative and other voters.

 

Nancy MacLean in ‘Democracy in Chains’ stumbled across odd bedfellows and links to discover this movement promoting nineteenth century economic ideology and eugenics.

 

Radical Right Libertarians – MacLean

Misinforming the Majority: A Deliberate Strategy of Right-Wing Libertarians
BY
Mark Karlin, Truthout
PUBLISHED
July 9, 2017

When and how were the seeds sown for the modern far-right’s takeover of American politics? Nancy MacLean reveals the deep and troubling roots of this secretive political establishment — and its decades-long plan to change the rules of democratic governance — in her new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Get your copy by making a donation to Truthout now!

 

Many individuals who follow politics and journalists think that the right-wing playbook began with the Koch brothers. However, in her groundbreaking book, Nancy MacLean traces their political strategy to a Southern economist who created the foundation for today’s libertarian oligarchy in the 1950s.

 

Mark Karlin: Can you summarize the importance of James McGill Buchanan to the development of the modern extreme right wing in the United States?

 

Nancy MacLean: The modern extreme right wing I’m talking about, just to be clear, is the libertarian movement that now sails under the Republican flag, particularly but not only the Freedom Caucus, yet goes back to the 1950s in both parties. President Eisenhower called them “stupid” and fashioned his approach — calling it modern Republicanism — as an antidote to them. Goldwater was their first presidential candidate. He bombed. Reagan, they believed, was going to enact their agenda. He didn’t. But beginning in the early 2000s, they became a force to be reckoned with. What had changed? The discovery by their chief funder, Charles Koch, of the approach developed by James McGill Buchanan for how to take apart the liberal state.

 

Buchanan studied economics at the University of Chicago and belonged to the same milieu as F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, but he used his training to analyze public life. And he supplied what no one else had: an operational strategy to vanquish the model of government they had been criticizing for decades — and prevent it from being recreated. It was Buchanan who taught Koch that for capitalism to thrive, democracy must be enchained.

 

Buchanan was a very smart man, the only winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics from the US South, in fact. But his life’s work was forever shaped by the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. He arrived in Virginia in 1956, just as the state’s leaders were goading the white South to fight the court’s ruling, a ruling he saw not through the lens of equal protection of the law for all citizens but rather as another wave in a rising tide of unwarranted and illegitimate federal interference in the affairs of the states that began with the New Deal. For him what was at stake was the sanctity of private property rights, with northern liberals telling southern owners how to spend their money and behave correctly. Given an institute to run on the campus of the University of Virginia, he promised to devote his academic career to understanding how the other side became so powerful and, ultimately, to figuring out an effective line of attack to break down what they had created and return to what he and the Virginia elite viewed as appropriate for America. In a nutshell, he studied the workings of the political process to figure out what was needed to deny ordinary people — white and Black — the ability to make claims on government at the expense of private property rights and the wishes of capitalists. And then he identified how to rejigger that political process not only to reverse the gains but also to prevent the system from ever reverting back.

 

Why, until your book, has his importance to the right wing been largely overlooked?

 

There are a few reasons Buchanan has been overlooked. One is that the Koch cause does not advertise his work, preferring to tout the sunnier primers of Hayek, Friedman and even Ayn Rand when recruiting. Buchanan is the advanced course, as it were, for the already committed. Another is that Buchanan did not seek the limelight like Friedman, so few on the left have even heard of him. I myself learned of him only by serendipity, in a footnote about the Virginia schools fight.

 

How would you draw a line connecting Buchanan to the Koch brothers?

 

Charles Koch supplied the money, but it was James Buchanan who supplied the ideas that made the money effective. An MIT-trained engineer, Koch in the 1960s began to read political-economic theory based on the notion that free-reign capitalism (what others might call Dickensian capitalism) would justly reward the smart and hardworking and rightly punish those who failed to take responsibility for themselves or had lesser ability. He believed then and believes now that the market is the wisest and fairest form of governance, and one that, after a bitter era of adjustment, will produce untold prosperity, even peace. But after several failures, Koch came to realize that if the majority of Americans ever truly understood the full implications of his vision of the good society and were let in on what was in store for them, they would never support it. Indeed, they would actively oppose it.

 

So, Koch went in search of an operational strategy — what he has called a “technology” — of revolution that could get around this hurdle. He hunted for 30 years until he found that technology in Buchanan’s thought. From Buchanan, Koch learned that for the agenda to succeed, it had to be put in place in incremental steps, what Koch calls “interrelated plays”: many distinct yet mutually reinforcing changes of the rules that govern our nation. Koch’s team used Buchanan’s ideas to devise a roadmap for a radical transformation that could be carried out largely below the radar of the people, yet legally. The plan was (and is) to act on so many ostensibly separate fronts at once that those outside the cause would not realize the revolution underway until it was too late to undo it. Examples include laws to destroy unions without saying that is the true purpose, suppressing the votes of those most likely to support active government, using privatization to alter power relations — and, to lock it all in, Buchanan’s ultimate recommendation: a “constitutional revolution.”

 

Today, operatives funded by the Koch donor network operate through dozens upon dozens of organizations (hundreds, if you count the state and international groups), creating the impression that they are unconnected when they are really working together — the state ones are forced to share materials as a condition of their grants. For example, here are the names of 15 of the most important Koch-funded, Buchanan-savvy organizations each with its own assignment in the division of labor: There’s Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Mercatus Center, Americans for Tax Reform, Concerned Veterans of America, the Leadership Institute, Generation Opportunity, the Institute for Justice, the Independent Institute, the Club for Growth, the Donors Trust, Freedom Partners, Judicial Watch — whoops, that’s more than 15, and it’s not counting the over 60 other organizations in the State Policy Network. This cause operates through so many ostensibly separate organizations that its architects expect the rest of us will ignore all the small but extremely significant changes that cumulatively add up to revolutionary transformation. Gesturing to this, Tyler Cowen, Buchanan’s successor at George Mason University, even titled his blog “Marginal Revolution.”

 

In what way was Buchanan connected to white oligarchical racism?

 

Buchanan came up with his approach in the crucible of the civil rights era, as the most oligarchic state elite in the South faced the loss of its accustomed power. Interestingly, he almost never wrote explicitly about racial matters, but he did identify as a proud southern “country boy” and his center gave aid to Virginia’s reactionaries on both class and race matters. His heirs at George Mason University, his last home, have noted that Buchanan’s political economy is quite like that of John C. Calhoun, the antebellum South Carolina US Senator who, until Buchanan, was America’s most original theorist of how to constrict democracy so as to safeguard the wealth and power of an elite economic minority (in Calhoun’s case, large slaveholders). Buchanan arrived in Virginia just as Calhoun’s ideas were being excavated to stop the implementation of Brown, so the kinship was more than a coincidence. His vision of the right economic constitution owes much to Calhoun, whose ideas horrified James Madison, among others……

 

…..Having said that, though, I also believe that panic is the last thing we need. There is great strength to be found in the simple truth that Buchanan and Koch came up with the kind of strategy now in play precisely because they knew that the majority, if fully informed, would never support what they seek. So, the best thing that those who support a robust, non-plutocratic society can do is focus on patiently informing and activating that majority. And reminding all Americans that democracy is not something you can just assume will survive: It has to be fought for time and again. This is one of those moments.’

 

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