Repealing Section 230 would be a gift to America’s rivals

As many families begin their annual holiday traditions, Congress is following suit with a tradition of its own: using “must-pass” legislation and decorating it like a Christmas tree filled with unrelated amendments. But while these amendments typically involve handouts for special interests, this year’s unrelated measure is a gift to our economic rivals.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie


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It was reported recently that some senators were trying to add a repeal of Section 230 to the National Defense Authorization Act. On Tuesday, President Trump added fuel to this fire when he tweeted his intent to veto any version of the NDAA which did not repeal Section 230, calling it a threat to national security.

Section 230, once a little-known provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, has recently become a hot topic on Capitol Hill over arguments that it simultaneously allows for too much and too little user-created online content. Whether it allows for too much or too little all seems to depend on which side of the political aisle you are on.

In reality, the provision simply states that online service providers, also known as websites or apps, aren’t legally responsible for content created and posted by users. This means that Twitter isn’t legally responsible for the president’s tweets, Yelp isn’t responsible for bad user reviews, and newspapers aren’t responsible for the comments left on their articles.

While Section 230 is an important foundation of how our modern internet works, it has little to do with the funding of the military.

However, that is not to say that Section 230 doesn’t have national security implications. Protecting Section 230 helps ensure our place on top of the global pecking order.

American technological leadership in areas such as artificial intelligence, communication, and commerce are essential to our nation’s long-term security. Just days ago, Alphabet’s DeepMind cracked a problem related to protein folding, which could greatly accelerate vaccine development.

American messaging and social media apps compete with Chinese-based TikTok and WeChat. Both Chinese-based companies have questionable data privacy practices, leading it to be banned from some countries and departments of the U.S. government. American companies are taking the opposite path and competing on encryption and user privacy. Meanwhile, Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, and dozens of other online retailers compete against Alibaba to reach the world’s consumers.

All of these businesses rely on Section 230 to allow their business to run more efficiently and effectively. Even more distressing are the countless startups that may never get off the ground if the law were repealed. There is a reason that previous trade deals required other countries to adopt protections similar to Section 230. What’s good for American innovators writ large is

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Meet The Women Who Could Become America’s First Female Secretary Of Defense Under Biden

Four different people have served as Defense Secretary in less than four years under Trump, and the recent termination of Mark Esper during a critical transition period places the secretary of defense position and in effect, the United States, in a somewhat vulnerable place. With the presidential inauguration a mere 58 days away and president-elect Joe Biden’s indication that key Cabinet roles will be announced in the near future, looking to the top contenders is this season’s political roadmap to clarity in what is to come. 

Laying out plans for a strong defense strategy and continuing or reversing Trump policies as to the U.S. military will be an early and critical test of Biden’s promises and deliveries. Two of the frontrunners for defense secretary are women. If Biden appoints one of them, she would be the first woman in the office’s 74-year history to hold the position. 

Michele Flournoy

Michele Flournoy, considered a frontrunner candidate, served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy during the Obama administration from 2009 to 2012 where she managed nearly 1,000 people. Prior to that she worked on national security issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and as a second principal deputy in the defense department during Clinton’s second term, for which her responsibilities included covering Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

A Harvard and Oxford graduate, Flournoy’s views on international affairs may be what Biden is looking for, but her recent experience as head of WestExec Advisors, where she deals with Fortune 100 companies may not put her in the best light with progressives.

One of the earlier agenda items in 2021 will be handling of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Trump’s administration will likely cut troops down from 4,500 to 2,500 by January 15. This so far sounds consistent with Biden’s plans since he has indicated he wants to keep a few thousand soldiers in Afghanistan to maintain a small but effective counterterrorism force. If the 2018 agreement between the U.S. and the Talibans stating that all forces will leave the country by Spring 2021 is enforced, then the number will shrink even more. Flournoy, however, has previously taken the opposite stance, supporting an increase in troops abroad. During the Obama administration, she supported adding up to 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, which Biden opposed. 

Flournoy shares Biden’s views as to the escalating threat that China poses, making her a likely pick. She wrote about how China’s rise as a competitor in technological areas will determine military advantage while underscoring her disapproval of how the U.S. is currently handling

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What America’s 2020 Holiday Shopping Projections Say About The Future Of Customer Loyalty

With Black Friday just around the corner, this holiday season is projected to be unlike any other, especially with announcements from major retailers like Walmart and Target to close their stores on Thanksgiving Day. Brands can no longer depend on the rush of holiday foot traffic to keep sales momentum, and with the explosion of e-commerce creating new methods of shopping, retailers need to rethink how they are reaching their customers during the busiest season of the year.

To explore how the pandemic has impacted retailers and shifted consumer buying behaviors this holiday season, I spoke with Paulo Silva, Senior Vice President of Client Solutions at Alorica, a leading global customer experience solutions provider that supports more than 2 billion customer interactions per year. Servicing several of the world’s largest retailers and many other Fortune 500 companies, Alorica offers a suite of world-class customer experience services and technology, including customer relationship management tools and back office support. 

Leveraging Silva’s 28 years of experience in enhancing the customer experience (CX) and brand loyalty including 15+ years as a client and provider within the retail space, we analyzed new data from Prosper Insights & Analytics Monthly Consumer Survey. The survey saw responses from over 7,000 US consumers on a broad selection of spending intentions and retail behaviors with additional predictions and insights on Covid-19’s impact on holiday shopping habits.

Gary Drenik: How has the pandemic impacted the retail industry as we head into the 2020 holiday season? 

Paulo Silva: Holiday shopping has already drastically changed for retailers in comparison to previous years. Based on Prosper Insights & Analytics’ Monthly Consumer Survey, the vast majority admitted they could be convinced to purchase gifts earlier than they typically do, attributing this to several factors including avoiding crowds, mitigating the stress of last-minute shopping, and incentives like seasonal deals. The survey found that consumers are beginning their holiday shopping earlier than ever before, with 42% stating that they planned to start their holiday shopping by the end of October, and as of early November, over half of holiday shoppers have already started making purchases. As a result, the typical timeline for retailers to prepare for the influx of holiday sales has pivoted, with holiday inventory and promotions kicking off even earlier than usual. This accelerated timeline has made retailers allocate more resources to prepare for the holiday rush earlier and extend the season longer.

Because it will be less about camping out and waiting in long lines to get through the mad rush inside stores on Black Friday and during the holidays, consumers will also expect better CX. They’re no longer at the mercy of these major in-store deals on specific days, so retailers need to work harder for customer loyalty. To ensure loyalty and affinity toward a retail brand—while differentiating themselves from the competition—better customer service is necessary. Consumers need personalized experiences now more than ever before, and brands

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The Best Meals Shipped From America’s Iconic Restaurants

Restaurant dining and travel have both been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19. Skip take-out or fast-food delivery for the holidays, and instead consider giving a gift that tackles both these issues. By shipping complete, contactless meals from America’s most iconic restaurants, your recipients can relive the thrill of the good old days of travel and eating out, virtually and vicariously, while staying safe at home.

Maybe in past years someone you love would have made a December trip to Miami or Las Vegas or New Orleans? That is off the table right now for most people who have been following the news and CDC recommendations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recreate the experience of the most special and coveted eateries in those top tourism destinations, iconic spots like Commander’s Palace, Joe’s Stone Crab or the Golden Steer. But surprisingly, while there are more mail order fine food options than ever before (see this earlier piece I did on Eating Well at Home During the Pandemic and this one on Bringing the High-End Steakhouse Experience to Your Kitchen), most of them just ship individual dishes, ingredients or specialties, not meals. Barbecue is a perfect example – you can order ribs or brisket from many of the most famous pilgrimage smokehouses across the country, but try to find one with sides and you’ll be shocked how few good options there are.

By complete dinners I mean multiple courses like appetizer, entrée and dessert, maybe sides as well, all of them things a particular place is famous for. For instance, lots of famous steakhouses will ship you a steak, but only the Golden Steer, Las Vegas’ most storied independent steakhouse – and famously Frank Sinatra’s favorite – will ship you a complete dinner, down to the white tablecloth, cloth logo napkins, recipe for signature cocktails and even a Spotify playlist to get your Rat Pack vibe on. When I spread out the tablecloth and folded the napkins and turned on the tunes, it wasn’t just a delicious dinner, for a couple of hours we were transported for a brief respite out of pandemic induced stay at home sheltering and to a happier virtual place.

I’ve done the work so you don’t have, rounding up the nation’s best options for gifting complete special dinners at home.

Stay at home fitness? If you are looking for the perfect indoor workout gift, check out this Gift Guide to the Best Stationary Bikes of 2020

Have a golfer on your Holiday Gift list? This is the Best 2020 Golf Gear you can give.

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Meet The Fashion Historian Who Uses Twitter To Uncover Black America’s Influence On Billion-Dollar Industry

Meet Shelby Ivey Christie, a New York-based, fashion and costume historian who is changing and challenging the way the world views fashion by highlighting the overlooked Black contributions to the billion-dollar industry. Christie combines nearly ten years of professional fashion experience, having worked at Vogue, InStyle, and W Magazine, with her academic background in history and costume design from NYU to examine fashion and dress through the lens of race, class, and culture.

She’s passionate about connecting the dots to discover how economics, culture and society intersect with fashion. What makes Christie unique is her uncanny ability to utilize her social media and research skills to provide in-depth analysis to unearth untold Black fashion stories and narratives for her massive Twitter following. Her Twitter handle, @bronze_bombSHEL, has a loyal and engaged audience of 39,000 and it’s there she curates Twitter threads of engaging digital history lessons by using memes, Gifs, and colloquialisms specific to the Black community. Whether it’s creating Twitter threads on one of YSL’s model muses, or Beyoncé’s Homecoming looks at Coachella, she explores the intersectionality of Black culture and fashion to create visibility and awareness of the often-forgotten influence of Black people on fashion for centuries.

Her in-depth research, primary sources, and transformation of historical text with internet content like memes and trending topics to make academic subjects more accessible, has allowed her to garner interest from fashion luminaries like Gucci Creative Director and Black designer, Dapper Dan, Anifa Mvuemba, Zerina Akers. Christie has also partnered with notable high profiled brands Netflix, CFDA, and TIDAL. Through her tireless and meticulous research, she has solidified herself as a reputable and trusted expert of Black fashion and costume design history. 

Dominique Fluker: How did you become a notable fashion and costume historian? 

Shelby Ivey Christie: My career journey has been dual-pathed. I got my start in fashion interning at W Magazine in Fall 2011. I had dropped out of college at NC A&T SU a year prior. I had enrolled in college as a fashion merchandising major. However, I was also beginning to be interested in history. Against my parent’s wishes, I snuck and changed my major to History, but then I missed my previous fashion curriculum. I returned to NC A&T SU in 2012 as a History major and earned my B.A. in Race, Class, and Culture in 2015. Upon graduating, I interned at InStyle Magazine in the accessories department.

I hadn’t previously exposed to the business side of fashion, but I had my sights set on it as my next step. After my internship concluded at the end of the summer, I threw myself into researching and applying to market roles, and I landed at Mindshare as an Associate Media Planner. A year and a half into my time there, I was recruited to join Vogue’s Digital media team as a Media Planner.

I love the business side of luxury

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‘Whatever it takes’: how Black women fought to mobilize America’s voters | US news

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Even before networks projected the presidential race for Joe Biden last Saturday, Wanda Mosley, a 50-year-old organizer based in Atlanta, Georgia, began to prepare to mobilize voters for her state’s two critical Senate runoff elections on 5 January.

After one of the most turbulent presidential elections in US history, the two races in the battleground state will determine if the balance of power in Washington will fall to the president-elect once he is sworn into office. Georgia has yet to be called for Biden, a Democrat, though he currently leads Donald Trump, which motivates organizers such as Mosley who until early December will continue to register voters planning to vote in the January runoffs.

“We understand fully how important these races are,” says Mosley, the senior state coordinator for Georgia’s Black Voters Matter, a nonprofit dedicated to voter engagement.

“We’re still here. We’re still working,” Mosley said.

Democrats have long pointed to Black voters, more specifically, Black women, as a crucial voting bloc, decisive to elections since former president Bill Clinton’s victories in the 1990s. But this November, successfully flipping the southern, Republican-led state of Georgia to the Democrats for the first time in 28 years has drawn attention to the organizational power of Black women, whose large-scale mobilization efforts appear to have resulted in massive turnout among people of color in those cities, experts say.

“What might have been different is the greater role of on the ground mobilization and voter registration efforts in states like Georgia, and I think that that was the effort that was largely built by Stacey Abrams and others on the ground,” said Jamil Scott, an assistant professor in the government department at Georgetown University.

Rather than rely on outside political consultants swarming into battleground states, Abrams, who lost to the Republican Governor Brian Kemp in 2018, led that charge in Georgia this year, says Aimee Allison, the founder of She the People, a national network advocating for women of color in politics. There was a 69% increase in voter turnout among women of color in Georgia this year compared to 2016, according to Allison, who cites data She the People analyzed from progressive data firm Catalist.

“You have a group of voters of Black women who are the most effective organizers on the ground because they are trusted voices and are working in organizations year round. They don’t come in six weeks before and kind of rent out a storefront, they’re actually invested in, long-term, empowering the community through civic and political action,” she said.

In America, this election year has not played out in a vacuum. Rather, it has been met with – and compounded by – America’s year of reckoning with police brutality and systemic inequality, which has driven even more people to vote.

Thousands of Americans took to the streets to protest police brutality in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths earlier this year as the Black community also

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Trump challenging election is gift to America’s rivals, experts say

Storm clouds are seen above the White House as the edges of Hurricane Delta reach Washington, DC on October 10, 2020.

Samuel Corum | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Foreign policy experts say President Donald Trump’s attacks on the vote-counting process in the wake of Election Day give a boost to American adversaries.

On Friday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden inched closer to a White House victory after taking the lead over Trump in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

As his reelection chances diminish, Trump spoke Thursday evening from the White House briefing room, falsely claiming the election was being “stolen” from him. Trump said his campaign was in the midst of pursuing a series of lawsuits across battleground states.

“They’re trying to rig an election, and we can’t let that happen,” added Trump.

Our adversaries benefit from a weakening of American democracy, and surely cheer Donald Trump’s effort to undermine its central institution: free and fair elections.

Stephen Biddle

professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University

“President Trump’s wild and baseless claims are a gift to America’s adversaries, who will argue the U.S. isn’t a model for others to emulate or a reliable ally,” Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told CNBC.

“It encourages our adversaries to challenge our security guarantees and makes the domestic politics of our friends fighting by our side more difficult,” added Schake, a career civil servant with a bipartisan background and stints at the departments of Defense and State and the National Security Council at the White House. 

Benjamin Friedman, policy director at Defense Priorities, told CNBC that Trump’s calls via Twitter to “quit counting votes to keep power damage the U.S.’s ability to serve as an exemplar of democracy to others globally.”

“Allies and adversaries paying attention already knew U.S. elections were messy and President Trump was capable of illiberal statements. So beyond giving adversaries something to mock and allies some heartburn, effects should be small,” Friedman added.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks following the ceremonial swearing-in of James Mattis as secretary of defense on January 27, 2017, at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

“Our adversaries benefit from a weakening of American democracy, and surely cheer Donald Trump’s effort to undermine its central institution: free and fair elections,” explained Stephen Biddle, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University.

Biddle added that rivals such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have an interest in “delegitimizing democracy and countering the notion that democracy is a higher form of government.”

“Pointing to an allegedly chaotic, fraud-ridden U.S. election thus offers them an opportunity to diminish enthusiasm in their own populations for U.S.-style government and democracy and to diminish the threat that this system poses to them. And this gives them an incentive to amplify Trump’s claims – the more chaos here, the better for them there,” Biddle told CNBC.

The presidential election is the crown

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Trump efforts to challenge election results ‘are a gift to America’s adversaries,’ foreign policy experts say

  • As his reelection chances diminish, President Donald Trump spoke Thursday evening from the White House briefing room, falsely claiming the election was being “stolen” from him.
  • “President Trump’s wild and baseless claims are a gift to America’s adversaries, who will argue the U.S. isn’t a model for others to emulate or a reliable ally,” said Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
  • “Our adversaries benefit from a weakening of American democracy, and surely cheer Donald Trump’s effort to undermine its central institution: free and fair elections,” said Stephen Biddle, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University.



a large building: Storm clouds are seen above the White House as the edges of Hurricane Delta reach Washington, DC on October 10, 2020.


© Provided by CNBC
Storm clouds are seen above the White House as the edges of Hurricane Delta reach Washington, DC on October 10, 2020.

WASHINGTON — Foreign policy experts say President Donald Trump’s attacks on the vote-counting process in the wake of Election Day give a boost to American adversaries.

On Friday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden inched closer to a White House victory after taking the lead over Trump in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

As his reelection chances diminish, Trump spoke Thursday evening from the White House briefing room, falsely claiming the election was being “stolen” from him. Trump said his campaign was in the midst of pursuing a series of lawsuits across battleground states.

“They’re trying to rig an election, and we can’t let that happen,” added Trump.

“President Trump’s wild and baseless claims are a gift to America’s adversaries, who will argue the U.S. isn’t a model for others to emulate or a reliable ally,” Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told CNBC.

“It encourages our adversaries to challenge our security guarantees and makes the domestic politics of our friends fighting by our side more difficult,” added Schake, a career civil servant with a bipartisan background and stints at the departments of Defense and State and the National Security Council at the White House. 

Benjamin Friedman, policy director at Defense Priorities, told CNBC that Trump’s calls via Twitter to “quit counting votes to keep power damage the U.S.’s ability to serve as an exemplar of democracy to others globally.”

“Allies and adversaries paying attention already knew U.S. elections were messy and President Trump was capable of illiberal statements. So beyond giving adversaries something to mock and allies some heartburn, effects should be small,” Friedman added.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks following the ceremonial swearing-in of James Mattis as secretary of defense on January 27, 2017, at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.


© Provided by CNBC
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks following the ceremonial swearing-in of James Mattis as secretary of defense on January 27, 2017, at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

“Our adversaries benefit from a weakening of American democracy, and surely cheer Donald Trump’s effort to undermine its central institution: free and fair elections,” explained Stephen Biddle, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University.

Biddle added that rivals such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have an interest in “delegitimizing democracy and countering the notion that democracy is a higher

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The untold story of Alpana Singh, one of America’s only women of color to become a master sommelier

The wine world is reeling from allegations of sexual assault by several male master sommeliers. More than 20 women accused colleagues of sexual harassment or assault, according to New York Times reporter Julia Moskin, and the scenarios they allege are disturbing: hands slipped into underwear, promises of professional advancement in exchange for sex, even rape, and a parent organization — the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas — that failed to protect its women members.

In case you missed the latest developments: Geoff Kruth, one of the master sommeliers identified in the Times investigation, has resigned from his job at GuildSomm and abdicated his coveted “MS” title. (He denied that any sexual encounters described in the article were non-consensual, and did not respond to The Chronicle for comment.)

Meanwhile, the nation’s women master somms have banded together to demand changes within the court, and some of those changes already appear to be in the works. The court has hired an outside firm to conduct an investigation of the allegations and has suspended seven master sommeliers from participating in court activities, it said in a statement.

You can read all about those developments elsewhere. But in today’s newsletter, I want to tell a different, albeit related, story: the story of Alpana Singh, who says she is the first woman of color to become a master sommelier in the U.S. — and who resigned her title yesterday. I spoke to Singh this week about her own experiences with the court over the last two decades, and they may be able to tell us something about the dynamics within this community that produced the current situation.

Singh passed the master exam in 2003, but it was only this year that she realized the significance of her achievement. “I was the first woman of color to pass!” she said. “It took me 17 years to make the connection.” No one ever celebrated, or even recognized, the significance of her presence in the court, she said. Until that point, there were only six women master somms in the U.S. (These women all appear to be white, making Singh’s assertion likely true. Another woman, Sara Floyd, also passed in 2003.)

Alpana Singh, shown in Chicago while filming the television show “Check Please” in 2003, the same year she passed the master sommelier exam.

But Singh’s road to the master sommelier title — earned at age 26 — had been bumpy, she said.

She discovered wine at age 19 while working at a Monterey restaurant. At the time, Singh felt adrift, unsure of what to do with her life after a failed attempt to enlist in the Air Force. She fell in love with wine. “I just became enamored with it, the history, science, geology,” she said. “I felt an instant high any time I sold a bottle of wine to someone and they loved it.”

At the encouragement of her boss, who held an advanced sommelier certification, she decided to take an introductory course with the Court of Master Sommeliers, she said. She wasn’t yet of legal drinking age, but didn’t realize that would be a problem; no one ever

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Gap Clothing Just Published an Ad About Closing America’s Political Divide and People Aren’t Happy

Twitter users don’t love the timing of a new Gap clothing advertisement that apparently asks to reunite America, despite politics. As the extension of Election Day unfolds and tension is high around the country, the clothing store uploaded a video of a two-toned jacket, one side red and one side blue.

“The one thing we know, is that together, we can move forward,” the ad caption read. Right before Newsweek published this article, the original tweet was seemingly deleted. That hasn’t stopped it from zipping on in quote tweets around Twitter, though.

The Tweet acted like a gif and showed the jacket being zipped together. It’s been quote tweeted thousands of times, but only had around 300 likes before it was deleted. The mismatched numbers speak to the general response from Twitter users: now isn’t the time to unite Democrats and Republicans as all wait anxiously with different hopes for who will be announced as the next President.

GAP
A GAP fashion retail shop sign above the entrance on Oxford Street on June 11, 2018, in London, England.
John Keeble/Getty Images/Getty

“Maybe there’s one place I can agree with racist, hateful Trump voters on and that about how lame this is,” wrote Fandom Managing Editor Eric Goldman on Twitter.

“Gap literally means the space in between two different sides. Your entire brand celebrates division. So maybe shut the f*** up” quote tweeted artist Yoyoha.

Others called to “close the Gap,” but meant the clothing chain, not the political divide. Even NASA scientist Dr. Jessie Christiansen responded with an extended-vowel “Yiiiiiiiiikes.”

While some commenters claimed the hoodie is just an ugly design choice, most took offense to the decision by Gap to make a statement on uniting as the country stands undeniably divided. Some seemed to find the marketing irresponsible to imply a simple decision to “zip” the opposing sides together would fix hostility, comfort or moral differences in 2020, because of the wildly different viewpoints of some conservatives and liberals.

It comes at the same time as a social media trend that sees some vocal American citizens admitting to breaking friendships and family ties because of political differences.

Election Day was Tuesday, but as Wednesday afternoon comes, America’s next president has yet to be determined. At the time of publishing, Joe Biden had 238 electoral votes, while Donald Trump had 213. In order to win the presidency, either politician must reach 270 electoral votes. At this point, it seems possible for either candidate to be declared the winner.

Gap Inc. is the owner of a few other apparel brands including Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta. None of the other brand accounts made post-election statements, though Old Navy and Athleta encouraged their followers to vote.

Newsweek reached out to Gap for comment on the message behind the ad but didn’t receive a response at the time of publishing.

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