Independence caucus: miracle or fantasy?


By Wendy Aylworth,

Would you like to be our new Congressman or Congresswoman? According to the political action group Independence Caucus (aka icaucus) you can be, even if you have no political track record. Can you defeat a six-term incumbent, even if he outspends you 6 to 1? According to icaucus you can — all you need is 1,000 grassroots volunteers in your Congressional District. You don’t need lots of money, you only need the icaucus methods.[1]

From the Independence Caucus Big Stick Tea Party Facebook page:

The Independence Caucus began as a group of volunteers in Utah who helped in the election of Jason Chaffetz. Despite being outspent by more than a 6 to 1 margin, through the efforts of some of the early iCaucus members, Chaffetz, with no real political track record, defeated a 6-term, incumbent who was endorsed by the local Republican machine (the dominant party in Utah), the two sitting senators, and President Bush.[2]

Believing the above, everyday citizens nationwide, with no political experience, have launched campaigns to become members of Congress.

Here in the 4th Congressional District of Kansas the members of icaucus seem convinced they can elect to Congress a man with no political or campaign experience. They believe Jason Chaffetz, a common, ordinary citizen with no political experience, has already defeated a 6 term incumbent Congressman and the “Republican machine” in another state, and they can therefore duplicate this success in Kansas.

But is the above story of Jason Chaffetz’ success accurate?

(1) Was Jason Chaffetz a common, ordinary citizen “with no real political track record?”
(2) Did Jason Chaffetz defeat a 6 term incumbent in the general election?
(3) Was a man with no political experience really able to defeat a powerful Democrat?
(4) Did Jason Chaffetz defeat the local “Republican machine?”
(5) Can the events of the 3rd Congressional District of Utah, where Chaffetz was elected, be duplicated here in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District?

Background and Experience of Jason Chaffetz

Raised in a wealthy, politically connected family, his father’s first wife was Kitty Dukakis, who next married Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democrat nominee for U.S. President. His half brother is former actor, John Kerry aide, and Democrat National Political Director John Dukakis.[3]

Prior to running for Congress, Chaffetz had “a resume bursting at the seams with political experience.”[4]

Chaffetz had already been a campaign worker on local campaigns, and, twenty-two years ago, while playing football at BYU, was Utah co-chairman for Michael Dukakis’s 1988 campaign for U.S. President.

Following his graduation from BYU, Jason Chaffetz took a corporate job with one of the largest employers in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District, where, in 1990, he assisted then former President Ronald Reagan in a meeting tour with top Utah dignitaries. Through participating in these high-level private meetings he became personally acquainted with the key influential people in the state. His skills and charismatic personality soon raised him to the position of Managing Director of Marketing in the Corporation.

Eager to get back into Politics, Chaffetz was selected Campaign Manager of Jon Huntsman for Governor of Utah election campaign, serving two years before becoming the Governor’s Chief of Staff.[5] In these positions Chaffetz nurtured his ties with the state’s most important insiders, and began contemplating a run for Congress.[6] When Chaffetz left his position with the Governor’s office it was speculated that he might challenge the lone Democrat Congressman from Utah in whose district he lived.

Chaffetz returned to the private sector and Nu Skin Corporation, having decided against challenging Democrat Congressman Matheson of Utah’s 2nd Congressional District. Chaffetz took the politically expedient path, knowing that he was not yet ready to take on an incumbent Democrat, even in the most Republican and most conservative state of the Union. Instead Chaffetz looked for a district where his chances would be stronger. He chose the 3rd Congressional District of Utah, where he did not live,[7] as the location where he would make his run for Congress. Located in this district were BYU and the Nu Skin Corporation, and, best of all, no strong Democrat — only an unpopular Republican Congressman.[8]

In the 3rd District Chaffetz had the opportunity to defeat the incumbent Republican by working behind the scenes within the Republican Party structure. He could gather the votes of the Party decision makers long before any public election, and even end the career of the incumbent Republican Congressman without ever going to a public election.

Yes, Chaffetz defeated a 6 term incumbent — but that incumbent was not a Democrat.

How did Chaffetz defeat him?

Three years in advance he knew both his district and his opponent and devised a long-term strategy. Appointed by the Governor to a Trustee position with the largest public college in the district, he also served as President of BYU’s Cougar Club giving him name recognition and a resume with nearly every college graduate in this BYU-dominated area.[9] He developed personal relationships with Republican Party Committeemen and women, and with the Republican Delegates whose votes he would need. His supporters lobbied party delegates for months prior to the vote.[10] On Jan 1, 2007 Chaffetz made his announcement and quickly received campaign contributions both from in-state and out-of-state sources, PACs and the Huntsman Corporation of the Governor’s family.[11]

Political parties in Utah use a unique method for selecting which candidate will receive party backing. In a Congressional election the nominee is not chosen via a public primary, as in Kansas. Instead, each party holds a State Convention and party delegates choose the nominee.[12] A primary election occurs only if neither of the two final candidates receives at least 60% of the vote. Chaffetz’ two years of behind-the-scenes work, his charisma, unique background, and terrific speaking ability all paid off at the convention where he succeeded in knocking out all challengers and very nearly defeating the incumbent. On the last ballot Chaffetz fell 9 votes short of the 60% total he needed to oust the incumbent, receiving 59.5%.[13]

Chaffetz had spent only $150 per delegate, one-sixth that of incumbent Chris Cannon, and nearly defeated him without a primary.[14]

A key advantage Chaffetz had in this particular district is the candidate winning the Republican primary is widely considered the winner of the general election.[15] This characteristic of the 3rd District is one reason Chaffetz selected it — fewer than 25% of the population are registered Democrats.[16] The lack of Democrats and the very Conservative electorate means Republicans do not need to concern themselves with choosing a nominee capable of attracting moderate or Democrat voters to defeat the Democrat. They merely choose the Republican most appealing to themselves.[17]

This key factor, Chaffetz knew, would make it possible for him, a man who had not before run for public office, to obtain the nomination. The key problem of needing to face Democrat opposition was virtually non-existent here in this ONE district out of all of the districts in the nation. In fact in Utah County, the seat of the district, only 1% of the voters were registered Democrats.[18]

With his army of volunteers, and top-notch campaign staff, the lobbying now turned to run a public campaign.[19]

Chaffetz gained local and state endorsements important to the voters in this district, and his friend Republican Governor Jon Huntsman stated he would wait until after the primary to endorse a candidate, leaving the incumbent hanging.[20]

With steady, focused work the Chaffetz campaign was free to use any and all of the inadequacies of incumbent Cannon and his voting record against him, without fear of the material creating a Democrat win in the general election (should Cannon win the primary) as there were simply not enough Democrats in the entire district to defeat even a weakened Republican candidate.[21]

Chaffetz prevailed in the primary and was hailed nationwide as the new Congressman of the 3rd Congressional District of Utah having spent half what the incumbent did.[22] In a few months Chaffetz would easily defeat the Democrat 66 to 28 percent[23] having spent ten times more money.[24]

Can the lessons of how to run a grassroots Congressional campaign be applied to other Congressional Districts in the U.S.? Certainly; provided they possess the demographics and political structure of Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.

Footnotes are on the following page.

[1] and
[2] and videos from
[3]  AND 
[8] Sanchez, Jennifer, “Ex-Huntsman staffer may battle Cannon,” The Salt Lake Tribune, January 2, 2007 and
[11] Pyrah, Joe, “Jason Chaffetz: Newcomer not new to politics,” Daily Herald, June 14, 2008, [including on Jan 16, 2007 $1,000 from the Huntsman Corp ]
[14] Chaffetz statement on KSL TV Channel 5, May 13, 2008
[15] and Walch, Tad, “Chaffetz wins big: Landslide: He turns Cannon into a lame duck,” Deseret Morning News, June 25, 2008
[18]  and and and


16 responses to “Independence caucus: miracle or fantasy?”

  1. craig

    I guess we’ll see. This fall I think the anger a Washington will be the over riding factor. But next spring in the local City Council and Mayor races will be the deciding answer. They have a good idea. The question is, can they over come the apathy that the local electorate has for the local races. Bob you worked a couple campaigns in the last 2 cycles what do you think 10 dedicated or 20 half hearted volunteers would have done for Barfield?

  2. Wendy Aylworth

    Hi Craig,
    Could you clarify your comment for us? When you say, “I guess we’ll see” are you referring to the Congressional race in the 4th district? Or are you referring to all races?

    In the 4th Congressional District the Democrats will be running a very strong candidate who’s been very successful in portraying himself as a moderate and attracting Republican and Independent votes. We need to run a candidate against him who is very strong. We certainly cannot run an unqualified candidate who is new to Kansas and does not know who Nola Foulston is, nor what City Council district in Wichita he lives in.

    I’ve spent a great deal of time listening to the candidate who is endorsed by the Kansas icaucus group, and after hearing a one hour long presentation he gave to a small group, I became convinced that he’s unprepared to be Congressman. He didn’t even know what Wichita City Council district he lives in (and this was just 3 weeks ago) even though he’s lived in Wichita for 3 years.

    I think most of the icaucus members were unaware before they voted (only about 80 votes in our entire Congressional District) that Anderson has only lived in Kansas for 3 years.

    Those who understand Kansas and the 4th district know that voters here expect their representative to know the district and be familiar with the people who hold political and government offices here.

    If one cannot hold a conversation with one’s Congressman because he does not know basic things you’re talking about, such as who Nola Foulston is, he’s not going to be capable of dealing with the problems here. He will need to spend a couple of years to learn basic things so that he can even begin to converse. A person lacking in knowledge will be easily swayed by those who have access to him; we cannot afford to elect an ignorant person to Congress who is easily swayed because of his lack of knowledge and lack of experience.

    If we were to elect to Congress someone who’s been active in Kansas politics for at least 5 years we’d have a better chance of stopping the train wrecks that are daily being created in our federal government.

    In the emergency situation we face today, we can’t afford to send a novice to D.C. to get us steamrolled.

  3. Let me be first to say that the article by Wendy is an excellent piece of work. As were many portions of her post in the district and state pages. In fact, had she learned to communicate with others in this manner on the site without the personal attacks on the candidates or members she may have carried the day for her favored candidate. Instead, I believe she did as much to seal her favored candidates’ fate if not more than the winner did to attract voters to him.

    Undoubtedly we are trying to take what worked well for a single candidate with an exceptional background in Utah and find a way to apply it at the Kansas State and District level with multiple candidates with varied experience levels.

    We have learned much this year and we are still learning. We know there are some glaring problems that need to be addressed as we go forward. But we will continue to work with what we have for now.

    WE salute all the candidates that had the fortitude and courage to participate in the vetting process. We know that some will be disappointed but hope to the extent possible they will continue to participate in the ICaucus and would consider seeking the endorsement again in the future. We know there is a primary ahead and that while we may be down to supporting a specific candidate we at least hope we can continue to recognize those that participated and hold them in high esteem. It could be that it is one of them that WE will all turn to support in the General election.

    As to Jim Anderson’s qualifications to serve the fourth district I would point out that our founders never intended for professionals politicians to seize The House of Representatives. These were to be citizen legislators that represented their people at home. As I said in Jim’s endorsement, we have in the past elected highly educated and wealthy men to represent us; we have elected the well known with name recognition and personal notoriety; and we have elected more than our fair share of empty suits that only possessed a veracious appetite for our hard earned tax dollars. Most of us and most of America are sick of the politics as usual and are looking for a common sense candidate, that quite simply, we can TRUST. There are NO decisions to be made in Washington that can not be made by a principled man or women with common sense. To think, believe or act otherwise will only insure that we indeed receive more of the same

    Just remember, this is the primary season where you fight for what you believe in; and fight we will for our endorsed candidate.

    However, WE are not here to burn bridges. We are here to build strong conservative fences that will protect our Constitution, our families and our liberties. This is not a test. We are playing for all of the marbles in November and that is what we all need to keep in mind. It is principles over personalities & integrity over special interest big money.

    I appreciate the article and will use it to motivate and strike home the urgency for action on the part of our members. Wendy is right, we have an uphill struggle that is not guaranteed in this state, but that does not mean we should continue down the beaten path of the past. That path has brought us to where we are today and we can hardly afford more of the same.

    If you are tired of the old process then you are welcome to join us as we chart a new course back to our Founders.

  4. Ken and I are proud members of the Independence Caucus, MI , OH Region 11” Virtual Campaign Team, We are members, of the Genesee County Tea Party, America has been a sleep to long, we must stop the Obama war on our Liberty, They think their above any law or Constitution, that what is making them so dangerous,we don’t have a government we have a “federal Regime”and they call us domestic terrorist, so Obama add a private Army,in the Obamacare, what gives? Special army unit ready to be deployed on American soil just before the Nov. elections,why the seizure of all privately owned hand guns and rifle, efforts, and the effort to know where all the guns are??? Why is FEMA and DHS preparing for mass graves, is martial Law near, Bible study banned even in private homes!!!what if we don’t comply,??? We will pray for peace and prepare for war,as for me I’d rather fight than switch, Obama prays with the Muslims, in a Mosque prayer session ,but canceled our Christian National Day Of Prayer, Our weapon must be education peaceful assembly and reliance on, GOD,Yes Miracle, Brenda Battle Jordan.

  5. Katja

    I am an active member of Icaucus and served both as an interviewer and now as a liason. The questionaire is tough if one answers them without cheating. Not everyone scores the min of 70%. The interview tells all and is then posted for all members of the candidate’s state to listen to and then vote on. I disagree with all arguments except Ken and Brenda’s. The chosen candidates for my district is exceptional and we are fortunate to be able to support him.

  6. The Awaking of Americans is centering on the failure of our Government to live within the confines of the Constitution. The priority factor of Teaparties across the Nation is to bring our nation back by identifying candidates who are of constitutional character. To this end is ICaucus. Go to the site and find the questionnaire, take it and come to understand how important this Independence Caucus has become and will continue to be.

    ICaucus is not a party, nor does it identify with any. The goal is to place in Government individuals who will adhere to the Law of the Land, by reviewing candidates in all races to determine the most qualified Statesman as our Republic Representative. It is a humble task with great need for volunteers in very District. Please find the need for your labor in this great endeavor to right the USA.

    On a personal crusade note, another need for America is to change the Tax Structure. When free trade was enacted, we taxed Federally through the easiest method, by adding all taxation onto the cost of product. After we opened the borders, we did not change this, thus our American domestic manufacturing has been demised with the handicap of over 22% of federal taxation built into the price of American product. We need to change this immediately, as we are now near the total depletion of jobs by production in America and to allow this to continue will destroy our Nation. Please learn of the FairTax plan that is vetted by over 20 million dollars of research and is in Congress this day waiting to be passed. Without production employment, who will be affording service?

    Please go to
    and tell your neighbors and family of FairTax and ICaucus, to contact and vote for only those who will support the Constitution and FairTax.

  7. Wendy Aylworth

    The icaucus Questionnaire consists of 80 “yes” or “no” questions. The Questionnaire is not difficult to answer.

    If a candidate simply answers “yes” to every question he/she will score 100%. It’s not difficult.

    Each question is numbered and prefaced by the choice of answer which is exactly as I write it here in these quotes “Yes or No ____” A blank space is provided in which the candidate is to write their answer.

    How can writing “Yes” or “No” in a blank space be difficult?

    In our Congressional District our Liberal RINO who is also a NEA member and has a long track record of voting to expand government and wasting our tax dollars scored 91% on the the icaucus questionnaire.

    It’s very clear from every question on the questionnaire that the answers that Independence Caucus wants to receive are “Yes” answers. If a candidate wants to look good he/she only needs to write yes in all the blanks.

    The subsequent interview consists of going over the candidates “No” answers. When the inexperienced, uninformed candidate in our Congressional District answered all the questions “Yes” the Regional Representative of icaucus who led the interview immediately began the interview by congratulating him on his 100% score and telling him he was the “next Jason Chaffetz.”

    The questionnaire is easy to score 100% on; just answer “yes” to everything.

  8. Ned Morton

    I would add to Wendy’s comments about the ICaucus questionnaire that the candidate interviews, which some ICaucus members believe represent the most definitive possible measure of a candidate’s ideological and Constitutional credentials, aren’t particularly useful as an evaluation tool, either. They’re exceedingly long and tedious, and they focus more on arcane and abstruse Constitutional questions than on practical applications of the principles of limited government, which are of much more interest to the average Tea Party/9.12 voter.

    Some of the questions that are asked in these interviews also border on the ridiculous. I recall in one candidate interview I listened to, one of the vetters asked the candidate whether a private citizen should be allowed to purchase a military tank. This was obviously intended to test this candidate’s commitment to the right to keep and bear arms. That’s all well and good, except that it was a question that had only two possible answers, and both of them were potentially wrong. If the answer was “Yes”, the candidate would have been seen as lacking common sense. If the answer was “No”, the candidate would have been seen as opposing the Second Amendment. Either way, the candidate would lose.

    Now I ask the reader: If you were a candidate for public office and a vetter asked you a question like that, would you take that vetter or his organization seriously?

  9. Ann H.

    Brenda: Obama did not cancel the National Day of Prayer. The truth is, he decided not to hold a service at the White House, but the NDOP was hardly “canceled.” I know things look bad right now on a lot of fronts, but let’s not get so hysterical about things that we repeat falsehoods.

    The proper use of punctuation and grammar might be in order as well if you want people to be able to decipher your comments.

  10. How do you know what I said, so well ?

  11. Obama prays with the Muslims in a Mosque prayer session at the White House, after he threaten to cancel ,our Christian National Day Of Prayer.

  12. sue

    I think ICaucus initially was a good idea: Vetting candidates. But there are some serious flaws in it. I hope these get addressed.

    First of all, there is obvious bias. Some of the “interviews” are tougher than others. Just listen and you can hear.

    Secondly, campaigns can “stock” the membership with their supporters, and game the system.

    Thirdly, a person can say anything to get elected. Schodorf got at 91% score. Her AFP score is 33% or something. (She is not conservative in other words.) I was told that she didn’t complete the oral questions. IMHO, she shouldn’t have been given a score at all then. She should have gotten an “incomplete.”

    Last, the membership is such a relatively small sample, that it is statistically insignificant. For example 49 people voted for Anderson, out of 160,000 in District 4.

    The ICaucus should have stuck with merely vetting people, and not endorsing. And they should look at voting records, history, backgrounds, lifestyles, and one-on-one interactions such as debate performances also.

    I do admire the intent of ICaucus. I just think it fell short of its goal.

  13. Wendy Aylworth

    Sue, those are all great points, and I do hope ICaucus makes some of these changes.

    Another of the changes we might ask them to make is to consider electability of the candidate, and the requirement that the candidate meet some threshold of ability or preparation. Qualifications for becoming a leader in ICaucus should also be imposed, and an Ombudsman position might be created. Right now, ICaucus allows one person to control everything in a particular state. Concentration of power in one individual is not beneficial.

    Additionally, This might be a small clarification. Census figures for the 4th Congressional District show 707,221 people.

    If only 49 people voted in the ICaucus vote (note that ICaucus does not impose a minimum age qualification), then an endorsement from such a group is virtually meaningless.

  14. Tina Dupont

    Wow, first of all the article is very misleading.

    “From the Independence Caucus Big Stick Tea Party Facebook page:

    The Independence Caucus began as a group of volunteers in Utah who helped in the election of Jason Chaffetz. Despite being outspent by more than a 6 to 1 margin, through the efforts of some of the early iCaucus members, Chaffetz, with no real political track record, defeated a 6-term, incumbent who was endorsed by the local Republican machine (the dominant party in Utah), the two sitting senators, and President Bush.[2]”

    This is a true statement! This does not state he had no political experience. It says he had no political track record which means votes!

    You went way out in your extrapolation when you said: “Believing the above, everyday citizens nationwide, with no political experience, have launched campaigns to become members of Congress.”

    And what is wrong with people believing they can do this? It’s their business. What’s wrong with people who believe in their country enough to believe this to be possible? Was George Washington a politician? I know it’s different today then when he was gracing our country but we want it to be more like those days don’t we?

    For us in Michigan our candidates did not even know who we were when they signed up to be candidates so there is nothing ICaucus has done to convince them at all they could run and win. It was hard enough just to convince them to vet with us which has not been the easiest thing to do. We still can’t get any of the Governor candidates to vet.

    This is a new experiment in our republic. It is bound to have flaws and needed fixes but it is for sure much better than picking someone whose name sounds good or you hear what they want you to hear in their radio ad. What is out there that is any better?

    Do you know that it’s only been tried once before and it worked I might add? We will probably have successes and failures this time around but if we identify one RINO and replace him or her with a constitutionalist we have won. If we get people who have only ever met a federal politician once in their life before (me) and now can say they have met all the candidates in several races and even sat down and interviewed a few for a couple hours we have won. This is happening all across the beautiful state of Michigan and we are going to save this state from the statists if it kills us and it just might.

    We have just finished vetting 9 candidates in one district in Michigan. They were all asked very tough questions. We have very smart people vetting our candidates. I was not one of them before you think I have a big head. I marveled at how good the questions were while I was listening to one interview.

    Some of these candidates are conservatives. Some are very inexperienced in politics. Some are successful businessmen. Some are past politicians. Some are un-electable and no matter how nice or conservative they might be I cannot and will not vote for them. I will take this all into account as will all those who interviewed and hopefully all those who listen to the interviews before they cast their votes.

    One I will vote for.

    I’m sure next time around there will be some changes but just the fact that we are doing something in the right direction says a lot. What are you all doing besides complaining about us?

    Footnote: I heard Chavitz on TV yesterday and I was proud of the fact that the people who started IC had anything to do with getting him elected. He was awesome!

  15. Wendy Aylworth

    Dear Tina,
    I applaud your efforts to save our country.

    I have a few questions for you:

    When you refer to the candidate who was claimed by ICaucus to have “no political track record,” wouldn’t it be better to look at a definition of what a “political track record” is? Why did you decide to say it refers ONLY to “votes”? And, even if you did define it only as referring to “votes” he does indeed have a political track record. Don’t you realize he was the co-coordinator of the state of Utah campaign to make Democrat Michael Dukakis U.S. President? Don’t you think he also voted for Dukakis? That’s a track record. It’s also a vote.

    Getting back to the definition of “political track record” the dictionary defines a record as being “The known history of performance, activities, or achievement.” And Jason Chaffetz certainly had a “political track record” before he decided to run for Congress. That claim by ICaucus is full of holes. Perhaps you might want to look into Chaffetz history yourself?

    Tina, you also ask, ” Do you know that it’s only been tried once before and it worked I might add?” Could you explain? Where did “it” work? What’s the “it” you are referring to, and where did “it” work? Are you referring to ICaucus? Where did it work? Tina, I hope you don’t think ICaucus got Jason Chaffetz elected. I hope you know that ICaucus didn’t exist when Mr. Chaffetz was elected. In any case, even if ICaucus worked once in a while let’s remember that even bloodletting works sometimes. If you want to reach a conclusion that something “works” shouldn’t one base that conclusion on a scientific examination? Or at the very least on a process doing more GOOD than harm? In my book, to conclude something “works” it’s going to take a record of working at least 90% of the time. I wouldn’t try bloodletting based on one situation.

    From the information I’ve gathered there were three people, only three, who were among the approximately 1,000 volunteers who worked on Chaffetz’ campaign, who subsequently decided to create the political action group named ICaucus. That’s only three out of 1,000 volunteers. Do we know how much of the work on the Chaffetz campaign these three people did? And what should we make of the fact that 997 of the volunteers did not create ICaucus? What percentage is three out of 1,000?

    You ask “Was George Washington a politician?” The answer is “Yes.” Yes, as a matter of fact George Washington was a politician. “Before he got elected as President?” you might ask. Yes, yes, he was. Look up the definition of politician and then look up George Washington’s life history and also his writings if you have any doubt on that.

    May I suggest that it is not labels that make the person? I dissent from the ICaucus use of labeling people. I think it’s mostly unhelpful to label people. It might be a convenient shorthand for casual use, but if you’re doing serious work shouldn’t you use some other criteria?

    Tina, I applaud you for trying to make a difference. I hope your work in trying to vet candidates is helpful to saving the nation. However, from already being very familiar with the process I can tell you that the ICaucus method was very destructive in Kansas. ICaucus has some serious problems, and they have not been solved. Neither have I seen a willingness of the leaders I communicated with to actually solve the problems. I could not in good conscience recommend ICaucus to anyone.

    Typically, people who become dedicated to a cause, such as ICaucus, become very wrapped up in it – especially if they become a leader – that they are unable to see its flaws and unable to accept criticism of “their baby.” So it is with ICaucus. I find it unwholesome and destructive.
    It’s a shame because I once had good hopes for it.

  16. Tina Dupont

    With words like unwholesome and destructive I might as well give up right now. You are obviously a lost cause and I have better things to do with my time. Hey, I think I’ll go interview a candidate and see what makes them tick.

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