By every real-world indicator, this election should be a slam dunk for Republicans. The President is going up against a man who can’t piece together two sentences without a major gaffe. The House of Representatives is wide open with at least 45 seats that can and should be flipped from blue to red and less than a dozen that can be flipped red to blue. The Senate is still a question mark but there are great indicators that vulnerable seats can be held and at least a couple of sitting Democrats can be unseated.
But in the virtual world, the picture is far less rosy. Polls, as unreliable as they are, still seem to draw the attention of far too many voters. This threatens to dishearten conservatives while pushing voters who are sitting on the fence to take the natural human step of backing the horses they think can win. Mainstream media is a joke but still holds sway as the propaganda machines continue to spew pro-Democrat rhetoric. Big Tech continues their onslaught on conservative thought while enjoying the protections of Section 230.
There’s nothing Republican lawmakers can do about the first two. Polls will continue to be polls and mainstream media will continue to spew lies. But lawmakers do have some sway over Big Tech, particularly when it comes to the blatant censorship they displayed yesterday over the Hunter Biden story. Accounts were suspended. Links were suppressed. Discussions were curtailed. All the while, Twitter and Facebook continue to pretend like they’re “platforms.”
With Nancy Pelosi in control of the House, there is zero chance of passing legislation that stops Big Tech censorship. But legislation isn’t the only superpower national legislators have. Senate committees can call hearings. Just because they’re in the process of trying to confirm Amy Coney Barrett does not mean they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Mitch McConnell and his committee chairs have the power to ask questions and expose the censorship that’s happening right before our eyes.
Members of Congress are not powerless, either. Pelosi may not do anything, nor will her committee chairs, but individual Representatives can speak out and spark action away from Capitol Hill. When I interviewed Marjorie Taylor Greene, she was very clear that one of her priorities when she gets to Congress is to go after Big Tech censorship. She was fresh off a Twitter suspension of her own when we talked, so it was top of mind. Yesterday, she said what many of us have been thinking for a while. It may be drastic, but it may also be the best way Republicans can truly leave a mark on Twitter that will make them think harder about what they’ve been doing for the last four years.
That’s how the free market works and I’m a fan.
Censorship has consequences.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene For Congress🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) October 15, 2020
With the election a couple of weeks away, it may seem foolish for any conservatives to leave Twitter or Facebook. Big Tech may hate us and the feeling may be mutual, but they have a ton of power when it comes to spreading the message to the masses. They’re well aware of their power, which is why their censorship escapades yesterday were arguably bigger news than the stupidity of Hunter Biden’s actions for most of his life. The Burisma scandal is big, but censoring Americans is arguably bigger and definitely more draconian.
There are those, even among conservatives, who believe stripping Twitter, Facebook, and other Big Tech companies of their Section 230 protection will destroy them. To those people, I ask, “So what?” They’ve made choices that have positioned them as arbiters of the news cycle. By doing so, they have opened themselves up to an existence without platform protections because they are not acting like platforms at all. They are, in essence, news-sharing sites. They’re publishers. They can either choose to be unbiased platforms where legally distributed news is free to roam or they can be vulnerable publishers, stripped of their platform protections. They can’t have it both ways. At least they shouldn’t.
If President Trump does not make the internet-breaking move of leaving Twitter and/or Facebook and moving to free speech pastures, then Republican lawmakers and thought-leaders still need to act. They must engage with these Big Tech companies directly or through their supporters. That could mean sending out press releases, asking serious questions, and sending out subpoenas. It could mean attacking the platforms through the platforms themselves, rallying the people to call for changes or else.
If elected Republicans and Republicans in leadership don’t act quickly, Big Tech could flip this election. It’s that serious. Stop everything else and do something NOW! Use every lever of govt. power you have because I guarantee they’re using every lever of power they have.
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 15, 2020
Arguably the most important thing they can do is encourage their supporters to engage on alternative platforms like Parler. I’m not well verse about the site yet simply because I haven’t spent enough time on it to give my own opinion, but I do know this. If the site can handle an influx of users, every Republican lawmaker (or more likely their staff) needs to say in one voice that they’re going to Parler (or whoever) where freer speech is embraced.
We’ve heard similar calls like this in the past. We need one more before the election and it needs to be the loudest one yet. I’d love to see President Trump Tweet something to the effect of, “I’m slowing down on Twitter until they change their ways. You can find me on Parler @realDonaldTrump.” Then, he needs to post non-stop on the platform and only occasionally post to Twitter. That would make news. It would benefit his campaign. It would send a message. It would rally the people.
It’s long past time for the GOP to engage with Big Tech publishers and either strip them of their Section 230 protections or move to a free speech platform. As Marjorie Taylor Greene noted, censorship has consequences.