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Sanders’ unprecedented call for ‘justice and peace’ marks decline of lobby’s power

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I make a point of not watching the Democratic debates—they’re simply too stressful for my system. I fear the yelling and name calling, there’s usually not much to learn anyway, and we have to be positioned to fry those bigger fish come November. Thursday was the same, but I’d had the TV on mute, just in case. And—this is critical—my brave friend Jamie, who does gird her loins and watch, texts throughout to keep me updated. When she texted that they were moving on to Israel/Palestine, the sound went on.

A moment not to be missed. Sanders:

“There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”

So obvious as to be banal, you say? Not in this context, when a candidate for president from one of the two major parties finally talks about justice and peace during a prime-time national debate—and then doesn’t back down. It’s unprecedented: as many in the audience cheered him on as cheered for Hillary.

Let’s be clear: no political candidate—not Democrat, not Republican—has ever ventured into this zone during a campaign for such high office. The article today by Jason Horowitz in the New York Times nails it, writing that Sanders said that Israel had

“every right in the world to destroy terrorism.” “But,” he said, “we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.” [And he stood by his use of the word “disproportionate.”]

The applause and cheers that accompanied Mr. Sanders’s answers — someone yelled “Free Palestine!” — might have been the most vocal signs yet of shifts in the Democratic Party. 

In a sense, Hillary’s pathetic blubbering of all the tired talking points is as much emblematic of the collapse of the ancien régime among Democrats as Bernie’s talk of justice and peace. There she was saying it was all Arafat’s fault for nixing the “holy Barak offer” (as Tamar used to call it), a self-serving, long ago discredited theory advanced by Bill C. and the Israelis. Or that Israel turned over the keys to Gaza in 2005– “They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people”– so they could have had a great little state. There’s she’s channeling Thomas Friedman’s nonsense that Gaza could have been a little Singapore once Gaza was no longer occupied (and had “the keys,” as Hillary put it so succinctly). It’s true that Gaza is no longer colonized in the technical sense, because in 2005 Sharon dismantled the settlements and removed the settlers, who had been a great burden on Israel. (And without the settlers in Gaza, Israel is free to bomb to its heart’s content.) 

But Gaza is as occupied as ever. And Hillary’s vocabulary doesn’t include the word “occupied.”

The bottom line: even before the debate and before this presidential campaign, unease over Israeli policies within the Democratic Party was rising. As Peter Beinart is quoted in the Times article, which is titled “Criticizing Israel, Bernie Sanders Highlights Split Among Jewish Democrats”:

“What Bernie said last night, and the crowd’s response, were a sign of things to come.”

And the Friends of the Israeli Occupation know it.

Eliot Engel, Democratic congressman from the Bronx, resorted to the desperate old name-calling, labeling Bernie’s comments, “disgraceful and reprehensible.” Further, Horowitz writes, 

Andy Bachman, a prominent Brooklyn progressive rabbi [but not really all that progressive], said the energetic applause at Mr. Sanders’s criticism of Israel “spoke to this growing rift in the Democratic Party — it was proof of a major crisis in the Jewish community that no major Jewish organization has resolved or figured out to handle.”

Some advice to those, including the liberal Zionists like Rabbi Bachman, who are wringing their hands over “how to handle” the crisis: as long as you view the crisis as something to be solved by hiring a better PR agency and writing some new talking points, you’ll never be able to “handle” it.

Let me channel Bill Clinton on this one: it’s about the policies, Stupid.

So yes, the change in public opinion in this country has been glacial, but it’s happening. Sanders actually spoke truths—and here’s the crux of it: he will live to tell. That’s the news. A lot of Democrats and younger Americans in general, including many Jews, are breaking out of the old stranglehold. And the Democratic old guard, slow on the uptake, needs to take note: AIPAC is essentially a Republican organization. There are those who say Bernie could afford to do this because he’s going to lose the primary in New York anyway. Who cares? He had to think it first. And then he had to say it. And he did.

Does this major change in discourse (and more) mean there’s a rosy future ahead for Israel and Palestine? Alas, no. The Israelis just this week announced more settlement construction. They are as determined as ever to go careening over that cliff.
Nevertheless, it’s been fully ten years since John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt published their groundbreaking “The Israel Lobby” in the London Review of Books in March 2006 (
And here we are. Today’s Israel lobby is no longer the lethal third rail of American politics. And everyone knows it.
In the words of the great Sam Cooke (in the 1964 song that became an anthem of the civil rights movement), “A Change Is Gonna’ Come” (
Ilene Cohen

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41 Responses

  1. wondering jew on April 16, 2016, 2:36 pm

    I would divide the period since 67 as follows:
    til 73 and the yom kippur war.
    Til 78 and the peace with egypt.
    Til 82 and the war in lebanon.
    Til 87 and the first intifada.
    Til 93 and the handshake on the white house lawn.
    Til 2000: failed camp David talks, 2nd intifada followed in 2001 by sept. 11, followed by the war in iraq.
    Til 2006 sharon suffers stroke.
    I would not attempt to measure aipac’s strength, but rather focus upon the inconclusive nature of resolution 242. The gist of 242 negotiate and solve it, without specific parameters or certainly ambiguous enough language to let the resolution remain a text, an unimplemented text for 48 plus years.
    If we admit that the cold war was the basic cause for the US tilt towards crafting a text rather than a course of action, I think we get closer to the truth. Yes nixon’s 1st sect’y of state Rogers was interested in a resolution, but the real power was with kissinger to whom a resolution of the conflict made little sense in cold war terms. (Kissinger played chess with the conflict, it fit into his game as another hot spot where leverage could be exerted and an advantage gained). The post cold war world which began in 90-91 with the first Gulf War on the other hand is really an unclear period compared to the bipolar superpower conflict, this new world has a new dynamic. So support for Israel is 1. dependent on the chaos of the Arab world ,but 2. otherwise not a natural part of an overall strategy, because post cold war there is no comprehensive overall strategy.
    Aipac thus has to prove that support for Israel fits into a plan, when there is in fact no plan. Then we are left with “democracy” “common values” both of which are not a strattegy, but more like groping for a strategy and undercut by the post 67 occupation. Aipac’s job is either impossible (no overarching strategy to mesh with) or very difficult (a disenfranchised population explained as a temporary problem in it 49th year. ) so don’t blame the lobby: blame history and the occupation.

    • talknic on April 16, 2016, 10:07 pm

      @ yonah fredman April 16, 2016, 2:36 pm

      “I would divide the period since 67 as follows:”

      Not include 1966? Let me guess why not

      “Til 78 and the peace with egypt” Where for peace Israel withdrew from all territory sovereign to Egypt, per UNSC 242

      “I would not attempt to measure aipac’s strength, but rather focus upon the inconclusive nature of resolution 242.”

      Inconclusive because of one thing! Israel has yet to withdraw from all non-Israeli territories occupied in the so called ’67 war

      “The gist of 242 negotiate and solve it, without specific parameters or certainly ambiguous enough language to let the resolution remain a text, an unimplemented text for 48 plus years”

      Bullsh*t!. There’s a Peace treaty with Egypt because Israel agreed to have “respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of ” … Egypt … ” and (its) right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force; ” by withdrawing from all Egyptian territory and there’s a peace Treaty with Jordan. Both were implemented per UNSC res 242.

      ” don’t blame the lobby: blame history and the occupation”

      A) The lobby are an arm of Zionist Federation who decided to colonize Palestine in 1897. B) Without the lobby there’d be no US veto in the UNSC. C) Without the Federation’s historic lust for Palestinian territory and the lobby, I doubt there’d be any occupation

    • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 12:57 pm

      Yonaha Fredman nd talknic both make some very astute observations!

  2. Mooser on April 16, 2016, 4:58 pm

    ” so don’t blame the lobby: blame history and the occupation. “

    “Don’t blame me
    For falling in love with you.
    I’m under your spell
    But how can I help it?
    Don’t blame me.”

    Zionists, like a colossal Urkel standing athwart history, saying “Did I do that?”

  3. pabelmont on April 16, 2016, 5:34 pm

    Pseudo-quote: “And no Jewish organization has figured out how to deal — with the new (horrible) (anti-Zionist) situation.”

    Too bad they cannot use the Zionist-word to describe themselves: it would have been correct to say that “no Zionist organization has figured out how to deal — with the new (horrible) (anti-Zionist) situation.”

    It still makes me angry — why I cannot imagine, they’ve been doing it so long — that they say Jewish when they should say Zionist.

  4. niass2 on April 16, 2016, 6:49 pm

    How should they handle it. Seems the Jewish community is intent on doing the same activity. talk to my relatives and they have a innocent “Who Us” reaction to the fact their community is now seen as hateful racist savages. The think they can “Do Something” about everyone seeing their corrupt criminal enterprise for what it is. Jews here at my house call it Apartheid. Maybe they could try giving peace a chance? Not likely. Bu they need to “do something” about it. We’ll be watching for that. Are all the pro peace anti Israeli Jews in Boston I know a fact or just my imagination? If so they need top do something about that, as peace is not an option for the pro Israel crowd.

  5. yourstruly on April 16, 2016, 8:31 pm

    although not receiving as much attention from the media, on the issue of the ongoing war(s) in Syria, the differences between Linton and Saunders were just as stark as their differences on Palestine/Israel, especially when Clinton said she supports a no fly zone in Syria and Sanders was against it. Additionally, both her war hawk nature and her duplicity came through in her comments on her role in the U.S./NATO war on that country. Whereas in prior debates she didn’t hesitate to take credit for bringing on that war, at the Thurs. debate she ended up backing off a bit by saying it was President Obama who made the call. Perhaps her pollsters told her that the public is now disillusioned with the war in Syria war, and to put at least some of the blame on Obama.

  6. JLewisDickerson on April 16, 2016, 9:16 pm

    #IStandWithSimone! Reinstate Simone Zimmerman now ~ Joe Catron New York, NY
    The Bernie Sanders campaign’s attempt to pander to the Israel lobby by suspending Jewish outreach director Simone Zimmerman over her impassioned criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and his government’s killings of thousands of Palestinians – both contradicts Sanders’ message of political transformation and is unacceptable to the vast majority of his supporters.
    We demand Zimmerman’s immediate reinstatement.

    • echinococcus on April 16, 2016, 11:55 pm

      Petition? Reinstatement?
      It’s not Zimmermann who is running for some high position. It’s Bernie Sanders, who shows for the umpteenth time who he obeys to and what he worships. It’s Sanders who isn’t worth the bother of reinstating!

      • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 1:43 pm

        That’s a very naive, simplistic view.

      • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 1:59 pm

        Sanders’ move is sheer brilliance (especially compared to the clueless machinations of Ron Lauder and his ilk). I suspect that Ms. Zimmerman is quite copacetic regarding her “suspension”. Trust fund baby Ron Lauder single-handedly made Ms. Zimmerman’s “outreach” a truly stunning success!!!

      • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 2:44 pm

        P.S. “I suspect that Ms. Zimmerman is quite copacetic . . .” ~ me (from above)

        MY ELUCIDATION: Did You Know?
        Theories about the origin of copacetic abound. The tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson believed he had coined the word as a boy in Richmond, Virginia. When patrons of his shoeshine stand would ask, “How’s everything this morning?” he would reply, “Oh jes’ copacetic, boss; jes’ copacetic.” But the word was current in Southern Black English perhaps as early as 1880, so it seems unlikely that Robinson (born in 1878) could have invented the term. Another explanation is that the word is from the Hebrew phrase kol be sedher, meaning “everything is in order.” Possibly it was coined by Harlem blacks working in Jewish businesses. The word’s popularity among Southern blacks, however, points to its originating in one of the Southern cities in which Jewish communities thrived, such as Atlanta. SOURCE –

      • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 2:51 pm


        P.S. It’s a good thing those boys were in a ‘rubber room’. But, why so unfashionably decorated?
        THIS is so much more de riguer!

      • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 2:59 pm

        P.P.S. In a sense, Israel is becoming a very big ‘rubber room’!!!

        P.P.S. ■
        Girls and Boy. (Pet Shop Boys 12” Remix; 2012 Remastered Version) –
        This is the best all time remix of this song. Best part? 5:03 to the end. – Rachel Kealani Desha Brown, 4 weeks ago

      • Citizen on April 17, 2016, 4:06 pm


        Theories abound re “copacetic”:

      • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 6:28 pm

        It jus’ keeps on gettin’ curiouser and curiouser.
        Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
        Unless you’re a cat (i.e., feline)!

      • echinococcus on April 17, 2016, 6:54 pm

        As simplistic as the fact that BS is just a part of the single-party dictatorship, trotted out to call back to the fold the disgruntled, and to give a “human face” to Zionist murder and plunder.

        If Ms Zimmermann is acetic or any other salt is irrelevant. Sanders is a Zionist, and a Democrat Imperialist to boot.

        Count on the liberals to screw up everything yet again. You guys couldn’t even get a lesson from your last vote for Obama –which did bite you in the behind, mind you.

      • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 8:20 pm

        RE: “Count on the liberals to screw up everything yet again. You guys couldn’t even get a lesson from your last vote for Obama –which did bite you in the behind, mind you.” ~ echinococcus (someone I often agree with)

        I readily admit to having been bitten in the behind by Barak Obama on numerous occasions, and I have never found it particularly to my liking (although it might well be a fetish that some liberals/progressives cotton to). Personally, I wish I could reclaim my considerable donations to the 2008 Obama campaign. I donated instead to the Jill Stein campaign in 2012.

        I have long been aware of the “sheepdog” allegations regarding Sander’s candidacy (which you seem to be alluding to). I know things like that are quite common in politics, but I do not believe Sanders would knowingly participate in something like that. But perhaps, I’m just a poor judge of character.

        But tell me this, echinococcus, HOW DO YOU KNOW WITH CERTAINTY that the “sheepdog” characterization of Bernie Sanders candidacy was not PLANTED AND ENCOURAGED by the Hillary Clinton campaign in an effort at suffocating the incipient Sander’s campaign while it was still in its infancy (i.e., still in its crib) – a sort of political Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP or MbP) operation.
        HOW DO YOU KNOW?
        HOW DO YOU KNOW?
        HOW DO YOU KNOW?
        Personally, I might be wrong, but I think it is entirely possible that the “sheepdog” allegations regarding Sander’s candidacy was part of an orchestrated, counter-insurgency operation by the Clinton campaign, or its very close allies.
        I BEG OF YOU!

        P.S. FEELIN’ THE BERN!!!

      • JLewisDickerson on April 17, 2016, 8:36 pm

        P.P.S.FEELIN THE BERN!!! ~ Animated sequence of a buffalo galloping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (d 1904), published 1887, Philadelphia— John Lewis-Dickerson (@DICKERSON3870) February 7, 2016

      • echinococcus on April 17, 2016, 9:47 pm

        Excellent question, Dickerson, except that it appears as a one-para link (I’m not technically grounded enough to understand why.) Time to look at the question a little closer, as the childish feuds within the single-party dictatorship become more strident.

        First off, is there a need to elaborate what fashion calls “conspiracy theories” about what Glen Ford fittingly called “sheepdogging”?
        Of course not! The opportunist populist Democrat candidate is a fixture. Comes out every election.
        What does he do?
        He mobilizes the vote of most the disgruntled, who intended to vote third party or abstain. Keeps all the attention firmly within the Party until the primary. Past which it is like way too late to organize some solid structure for any third parties.
        At which point, the “liberals” are confronted (by their press and the main media) with the Most Classical Choice of the Lesser of Two Evils, et voilà!

        We have been recently introduced to a new version of this game. When the populist, opportunist bastard is real good and manages to get the blessing of the Owners of the Country, the game continues past the primary and the presidential. See Obama.
        All this is played again and again in plain daylight. No need to call it a conspiracy, no need to have a conspiracy, no need to know if the perp is doing it knowingly, unknowingly or out of noble or base motives. That may be of interest for a hanging judge, not me. My lying eyes tell me that it reliably happens every time, no need for the Accursed Witch of Arkansaw.

      • JLewisDickerson on April 18, 2016, 3:55 am

        I decided a couple of months ago to give up on voting. It dawned on me that since I pretty much agree with Sheldon Wolin’s notion of “inverted totalitarianism”, when I vote I am essentially voting for an (inverted) totalitarian government (albeit under the guise of “voting for the lesser evil” of the two candidates, except when I made a protest vote for John Anderson in 1980, Ralph Nader in 2000 and Jill Stein in 2012.) So, after religiously voting for the past 40+ years , I’m going cold turkey ’till death do me part (and the sooner, the better)!

      • ritzl on April 18, 2016, 5:08 am

        JLD, Thanks for the link on inverted totalitarianism.

        Very interesting. I think Wolin pretty much nails it. It’s useful to know there’s a name for what’s happening to us so it can become common terminology (if it’s not already).

      • JLewisDickerson on April 18, 2016, 3:14 pm

        Essentially, capitalism is no longer satisfied with having ‘banana republics’ in the third world. They are intent on turning the entire world into a ‘banana planet’ ruled by the global oligarchs (i.e., the 0.01 – 0.001% of the world). In the meantime, they will supplement flagging consumerism with permanent war.

        As Mark Twain and others were wont to say: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” ~

  7. echinococcus on April 16, 2016, 10:30 pm

    Does this major change in discourse (and more) mean there’s a different, honest, not Zionist-lobby-tool Sanders ahead? Alas, no.

    He just went and fired his “Jewish outreach” person because it offended his “Zionist Bloc” amd JStreet patrons. Just when the reaction to his move had immediately proved that he was on to a good thing.

    And it’s not even being mentioned in the different panegyrics of Saint Sanders.

    • Donald on April 17, 2016, 4:13 pm

      I was disgusted that he caved in to racist buffoons and suspended his outreach person, but he still went on national TV and said Israel killed 1500 civilians and wounded 10, 000. He also condemned Clinton for ignoring Palestinians and said Palestinian rights were important and he did this a few days before a New York primary. Now I could talk about what I didn’t like — in particular, the notion that Israel was defending itself– but what Sanders did was as historic as you get in presidential politics. Nobody who is running a serious if long shot campaign has ever done it.

      If the discussion in American politics switches over to one where the human rights of both sides are recognized, it’s going to make a difference. If it becomes an argument between liberal Zionists like Beinart and anti- Zionists like people here, that’s a giant step forwards. That’s why noxious people like Eliot Engel are so angry with Sanders. They want a world where all American politicians talk like Hillary.

      • echinococcus on April 17, 2016, 6:50 pm

        Well, being disgusted by itself doesn’t help.
        We should wake up to the switcheroo played before our noses: general compassion talk like Sanders’, but with continued “invader defending itself” propaganda and a revival of the 1000-year “peace process negotiations on the process”, JStreet and the more dangerous Zionist wing, i.e. their “human-looking” genocidaires of the Zionist Bloc are getting general approval –to continue things as before and free of the general disgust directed at Likud & Co.

    • JLewisDickerson on April 18, 2016, 1:22 am

      RE: “He just went and fired his “Jewish outreach” person because it offended his “Zionist Bloc” ad JStreet patrons.” ~ echinococcu

      HOW DO YOU KNOW that Sanders suspended/fired his “Jewish outreach” person “because it offended his ‘Zionist Bloc’ amd JStreet patrons”, rather because he decided to take advantage of the golden platinum opportunity (provided to him by trust baby Ronald Lauder, and multi-millionaire ADL retiree Abe Foxman) to ACTUALLY DEMONSTRATE how feudal-like/McCarthyesque the major Jewish organizations are when it comes to suppressing criticism of not just Israel, but even the most retrograde elements of Israel’s ruling junta (even at a time when they were mercilessly pummeling Gaza civilans).
      I’ll freely admit that I really don’t know why the Sander’s campaign suspended/fired his “Jewish outreach” person. You might be correct that it was done becauseZimmerman’s hiring offended his ‘Zionist Bloc’ and JStreet patrons” (resulting in a potential loss of $27 contributors (on average). But, wouldn’t that speech Sanders made in Utah (that AIPAC refused to let their conferees view) about I-P have already pretty much irreparably offended at least his “Zionist Bloc” (if not his “JStreet patrons”)?

      P.S. FEELIN’ THE BERN! (Animated sequence of a buffalo galloping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge, published 1887)— John Lewis-Dickerson (@DICKERSON3870) April 17, 2016

      • echinococcus on April 18, 2016, 2:34 am


        You seem to have a rather hagiographic view of Sanders. His Utah speech is nothing but a Zionist Bloc / JStreet / “liberal” Zionist policy statement. Wake up. How do I know? I read and I don’t believe fairy tales.

      • JLewisDickerson on April 18, 2016, 2:24 pm

        Trust me, I’m not interested in deifying ANYONE (or anything)!

  8. wondering jew on April 17, 2016, 2:07 am

    “Andy Bachman, a prominent Brooklyn progressive rabbi [but not really all that progressive]”
    Ilene Cohen, can’t control herself long enough to quote the NYTimes, has to insert her own slant on its quoted rabbis, right in the middle of the quote. quite unprofessional. high school, street corner gossip. maybe that’s what blog journalism is like these days and I am from the old school or something.

    • Mooser on April 17, 2016, 11:34 am

      “quite unprofessional. high school, street corner gossip. maybe that’s what blog journalism is like these days”

      “Yonah” let me tell you what “blog journalism is like these days”, okay?
      It works like this: When there is an article on a blog, and people comment all the comments are counted as a positive response in the ‘Google Analytics’ which determine a website’s ranking.
      Got that?
      Your every comment is another vote for Mondo’s Journalism model, “Yonah”. Thanks!

  9. silamcuz on April 17, 2016, 5:28 am

    Anyone find it interesting that the decline of the lobby’s power greatly coincide with the growing irrelevance of the right-wing American political establishments, namely the GOP and the rise of true progressives from the traditional Democratic base?

    It seems that we are on the verge of a great shift in the nation’s political landscape, but I am still wary of being optimistic. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

  10. Boomer on April 17, 2016, 8:56 am

    A call for “justice and peace” is surely welcome. But how sad for Americans, as well as for Palestinians, that it should be “unprecedented.”

  11. tombishop on April 17, 2016, 4:07 pm

    Another sign of growing awareness of the Palestinians situation.
    Boycotting Occupation: Educators and Palestine | Rethinking Schools

  12. Citizen on April 17, 2016, 4:11 pm

    Nothing on the Zimmerman flap in the cable TV news/infotainment shows, but lots on the assault charge against Trump’s campaign manager. Another fall in the orchestra pit, or intentional silence?

  13. Kay24 on April 17, 2016, 4:24 pm

    There was a Jewish guest on CNN yesterday afternoon, who said he was an activist for Palestinian rights, and he said he cried when he heard Bernie speak out this way. Many people
    are surprised at what he said, and glad he did so. There will be zionist minions who may attack him for using his freedom of speech on this matter, and I hope he tells them to go jump in the Dead Sea.

    It was sad however, the neither candidate had the spine to say Occupation or Illegal Settlements.
    Hopefully that time will be here soon, too.

  14. jsj on April 18, 2016, 9:48 am

    Bernie’s carefully worded call for respect and justice for Palestinians and for the end of blind allegiance to
    Netanyahu is long overdue. However, It does not in any way suggest that the Israel Lobby is a tad weaker. Over 3/4 of the House recently signed a letter to Obama calling for US veto of Abbas’ petition to the UN. It is imperative that we understand that power has not shifted, rather discourse was opened a crack. Fine to wallow in Bernie’s measured words, in fact I do. It’s a start but a small one at that.

    In politics principle and pragmatism fight one another. I believe Bernie had to be pragmatic about suspending his controversial Isreali staffer if he wanted his political message in the debate to be heard. Had he not that staffer would have eclipsed his remarks.

  15. thestick on May 20, 2016, 4:51 pm

    How come a “democrat” calls for this, and another “democrat” calls for quite the opposite?! Time to reconstruct those two failing/falling parties.

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