I’ve often thought of being a dictator. I’d be a benevolent dictator, because I’m a nice guy. But it would come with certain benefits, which I would enjoy to the fullest. Virtually unlimited funds. Unfettered access to ritzy golf resorts, where my scorecard would always indicate that, even in his prime, Tiger Woods couldn’t have beaten me. A yacht — with a helicopter pad — and for the local lakes, a bitchin’ wakeboard boat and a new four-wheel-drive truck to pull it (driven by one of my lackeys, of course). A staff of doting “yes” men and women to applaud my every word and meet my every eccentric demand.
They would all be stunningly attractive.
I could adopt a goofy hairstyle — even goofier than my COVID wannabe mullet — and no one could say a thing. Because. You know. Absolute power.
If I were to pursue my dictatorial ambitions, what tasks would I need to tackle to make it happen? Well, first I’d have to gain control of media and communications, of course. Once you have those things locked down, boom. Your detractors have no voice and you’re preaching to a choir of millions.
Folks. I don’t rant about left vs. right politics often. In general I consider myself a centrist who leans right — I despise what the extreme far right stands for, and I despise what the extreme far left stands for. I feel like neither party represents me and millions of others. But in America, today, the left is inching closer to communication lockdown. It’s not good for anyone.
An old colleague of mine used to say the First Amendment was the biggest difference between what we have in America, and a dictatorship. In America 2021, that gap has narrowed.
Social media, regrettably, has become THAT important as a communication tool. Whoever controls it, controls America. Sure. I can still post anything I want on my own cute little blog if I want (for now), and as editor of The Signal I do have access to a relatively large number of eyeballs. We get a LOT of traffic for a local website. But nationally, social media — and a few platforms in particular — is where the rubber meets the road, and it’s being manipulated to favor one party. That’s scary.
It’s been a four-year head fake. “Trump’s an aspiring dictator! Trump’s an aspiring dictator!” All the while, the left has been executing dictatorial chess moves of its own.
And this past week, the left put the right in check: Amazon, Apple and Google — all monopolies in their own ways — took Parler out of cyberspace. Parler, the “conservative” version of Twitter, was removed from the Apple and Google app stores and Amazon shut down its hosting. Pending an antitrust lawsuit, Parler may never return.
Prior to the shutdown, someone I know who uses Parler (NOT a very political person) told me they logged in to Parler, then in another window tried to make a non-political post to Facebook — and they were blocked. Coincidence? Maybe, but yet it’s just one of many anecdotal tales in which people are blocked, or have posts removed, etc., simply for BEING conservative. I know a conservative documentary filmmaker whose work has been suppressed on YouTube, for no good reason.
“Blame Trump,” will be the standard reply. “It’s his fault that your expression is being limited.”
No. Donald Trump is just the excuse. You can blame Trump for a lot of things. Even those who voted for him based on his policies have to admit, the guy is a first-class A-hole. I personally am not a fan, but I don’t think you need to “like” someone to agree with their political positions. And vice versa. I know a lot of people who I personally like very much, and their politics and mine are nowhere near simpatico.
Was Trump’s conduct before the despicable Jan. 6 Capitol riot wrong? Yes. The crowd was a powder keg — some there were already itching for a fight — and he stirred them up. It was dumb and lacked foresight, a recurring theme for the president. But contrary to widely accepted myth, he did not advocate violence, and in fact urged his supporters to make their voices heard peacefully. He specifically said that, but you don’t see that part of his speech played on national media.
Twitter temporarily suspended Trump’s account. Then later, when he got back on, he tweeted that he was not going to attend the Joe Biden inauguration. That was the last straw for Twitter, which interpreted “I’m not going to the inauguration” as a call for violence, and banned him permanently.
That interpretation would make Elastigirl proud. Dripping with hypocrisy, Twitter, CNN and other media haven’t batted an eye when those on the left have not only turned a blind eye to violence that escalated from last summer’s protests, but also openly advocated violence against the right. Such venom was spewed by Democrats from Maxine Waters to Kamala Harris and even Biden himself. (One conservative commentator wryly reminded the left this week that its characterization of fiery riots and looting as “peaceful protests” isn’t so far in the rear-view mirror: “We know what you did last summer…”)
I’ve often wished, out loud, that someone would take Trump’s Twitter machine away from him. But I was thinking more like, someone on his staff should hide his phone from him, for his own good. (Couldn’t ANYONE in the White House get this done in the past four years? Sheesh.) But Twitter banning him for life is political, selective enforcement.
And now, wacko New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is advocating creation of a federal panel to regulate the media to prohibit the spread of disinformation. It’s like she’s never heard of the First Amendment. Who would get to decide what “disinformation” is? AOC and her cohorts, of course.
The crackdown on dissent? For years, the left has been tightening the noose on freedom of expression. The “cancel culture” has been ramping up. That’s dangerous for everyone, even those who buy into it. If they can cancel someone else’s speech, they can cancel yours, too. It’s long been said the speech we should protect most is the speech we abhor. That’s because, if one of us loses our First Amendment rights, we all do.
Now, one party has the House. The Senate. The White House. (Gee. Sounds familiar. How has it worked out in California?) And they have Big Tech and most of the national media in their corner. It’s not like it’s an individual dictator. Joe Biden isn’t the next Joe Stalin. So, he won’t enjoy those benefits, like I would if I were dictator. His loss, I suppose. But for the moment at least, it’s one-party rule, and they’re squelching the voices of those who dare think differently than they do.
If we keep on this path, we will have an America where only one political party has the ability to communicate to the masses.
You know. Just like China.
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal.