The new bipartisan attack on the First Amendment

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By Thomas R. Eddlem

The Republican primary debate last week put an exclamation point on how the attack on the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of speech and press is now broadly bi-partisan. Democrats have long pushed to ban anonymous political speech as “dark money,” and Donald Trump issued an executive order in 2020 attempting to ban TikTok or force its sale to an American business (Microsoft was the political favorite to buy it at the time).

But the November 9 debate showed all the Republican candidates endorsing a frontal attack on the First Amendment, even though federal courts had already struck down Trump’s Executive Order as unconstitutional.

Asked “Would you ban or force the sale of TikTok regardless of whether or not China allowed American apps to operate in China?”, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis quickly replied “Yes.”

Chris Christie likewise affirmed “In my first week as President, we would ban TikTok.”

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott also agreed, stating “What we should do is ban TikTok, period.”

Vivek Ramaswamy, fresh from doing a raft of podcasts touting his supposed support of free speech, tried to up the ante: “The easy answer is actually to say that we’re just going to ban just one app. We gotta go further. We have to ban any US company actually transferring US data to the Chinese.”

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley didn’t have to come out in favor of federal censorship of TikTok, as she had done so at the previous debate on September 28, announcing to the Republican audience: “We can’t have TikTok in our kids’ lives, we need to ban it.”

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Nativism, the fear of foreigners and their influence, is the primary fear being stoked here in this an attack on the First Amendment’s protections of free speech and free press. If you don’t think bad governments have the right of free speech, censorship always turns your government into the bad government. And our government has already become the bad government.

Case in point, Nikki Haley November 14th.

Haley upped the ante on Fox News November 14, 2023, echoing Democrats’ fear-mongering about “dark money” and saying she’d ban all anonymous speech as president: “When I get into office, the first thing we have to do, social media companies have to show Americans their algorithms. Let us see why they’re pushing what they’re pushing. The second thing is every person on social media should be verified by their name. First of all, it’s a national security threat. When you do that, all of a sudden people have to stand by what they say. And it gets rid of the Russian bots, the Iranian bots and the Chinese bots.”

It’s a “national security threat”?

Keep in mind that America exists as a country in large part because people like Samuel Adams wrote anonymously as “Vindex” in Boston newspapers, and because of Charles Carroll writing anonymously as “First Citizen” in Maryland papers, among many others.

And we have our current national Constitution because James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote anonymously as “Publius” in the Federalist Papers.

And we have the Bill of Rights, which includes the First Amendment’s exception-free admonition that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press,” because Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and others wrote anonymously as “Brutus” and “Federal Farmer” in the Anti-Federalist Papers.

And even after the First Amendment was adopted, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton continued to write anonymously as Helvidius, Americanus and Pacificus on George Washington’s Neutrality proclamation.

Anonymous political speech is literally as American as the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers.

Nikki Haley has just elevated James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay into “national security threats.” In a way, she’s right, if by “national security” she means the political establishment no longer maintaining a monopoly over its welfare state/warfare state narrative.

The Democrats are every bit as un-American as the Republicans. President Biden introduced the so-called “Disclose Act” last year, claiming “Here’s the deal: There’s much — too much money that flows in the shadows to influence our elections. It’s called ‘dark money.’ It’s hidden. Right now, advocacy groups can run ads on issues attacking or supporting a candidate right until Election Day without exposing who’s paying for that ad.”

Biden went on to add: “A conservative activist who spent, as was his right, decades working to put enough conservative justices on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade now has access to $1.6 billion in dark money to do more damage and — from our perspective — and restrict more freedoms. As far as we know, that’s one of the biggest dark money transfers in our history.”

Of course, the largest five media companies, all of whom are fully aligned with the political establishment, spend $1.6 billion in just two days. The five biggest media conglomerates (Annual revenue: Disney $88.898 billion, NBCUniversal $39.2 billion, Paramount Global $30.15 billion, Warner Brothers 33.8 billion, Fox $13.97 billion) spend more than $200 billion every year, all of it fully in alignment with the political establishment’s Deep State Hydra.

Biden and the Democrats fret about a single billionaire like the Koch brothers or Elon Musk getting a different narrative out with a fraction of the spending employed by the Captive Media. They want to be able to ruin publicly anyone who bucks the establishment, as Elon Musk is finding out right now, and regain their monopoly over media.

The current attack on the First Amendment is the most overt in our lifetime, and the most dangerous. It has nothing whatsoever to do with minimizing the negligible foreign influence on American voters. Rather, it’s about regaining complete establishment control over the narrative voters are allowed to see.

Don’t let them succeed.

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