Democracy and despotism in a digital age.
Biden’s Thought Police
The ruling class is desperate to keep the truth under wraps this November.
The American mind is disorientated. It is in the midst of a regime crisis and the most contentious election in living memory. Which means precisely now is the time when the republican form of government, if it is to survive, requires free political speech directed at the most controversial issues threatening to tear our country apart. But the elites in charge of our largest corporations providing us the platforms we use to communicate are doubling down on politically motivated censorship. They clearly seek to influence the results of the presidential election in 2020 such that the Democrat Party wins.
Will Republicans continue to let them?
At the beginning of September, the affiliated PAC for my organization, American Principles Project (APP), launched a $4 million digital ad campaign highlighting the extremism of Joe Biden on the issue of gender ideology. One of the ads cites Biden’s support for the Equality Act, which would create a new protected class for “gender identity” that supersedes existing legal protections on the basis of biological sex—essentially applying the principles of the Bostock ruling beyond Title VII to all aspects of civil rights law.
This interpretation of the Equality Act is not controversial. The Left openly claims that gender is a self-actualized identity which should indeed supersede biological sex.
Our ad specifically focuses on how the Equality Act would impact Title IX and women’s sports. Give it a listen and you will hear the following:
All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition. At a scholarship. At a title. At victory. But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy? Senator Gary Peters and Joe Biden support legislation that would destroy girls’ sports. They call it Equality. Really? That’s not fair. Not fair at all. Vote against Gary Peters and Joe Biden. They’re too extreme for Michigan.
Following our release, two left-wing activist groups—the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD—condemned the ad and called on Facebook to remove it from their platform, labeling it “deceitful” “misinformation.” Media Matters also threw a fit. But rather than trot out the “misinformation” trope, they opted for a different tactic from the well-worn Stalinist playbook: they called our ad “hate speech” and proceeded to lament the fact that it had “earned more than one million impressions in just one week.”
We at APP suspect it was not a coincidence that shortly after the Media Matters tweet, we started hearing from the so-called “fact checkers.” On Tuesday morning, PolitiFact published one of these “fact checks.” In it, the author stated:
[APP PAC’s] specific criticism is that allowing transgender girls and women to compete on the basis of their gender identity would create an uneven playing field for student athletes and ultimately end girls’ and women’s sports. That’s a prediction we can’t fact-check ” (emphasis added).
Unfortunately for the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Media Matters, and all the other activists of our censorious ruling class, PolitiFact wasn’t able to rate the ad as “false” or “mostly false.” In fact, they didn’t rate the ad at all.
So we’re done here, right?
Not So Fast
Oh, no. That’s not how this works. Despite PolitiFact’s inability to identify factual problems with the ad or ways in which it was misleading, Facebook decided to take matters into their own hands. On Tuesday morning, Facebook slapped a warning label on our ad, urging our target audience that the ad wasn’t providing enough context. By Tuesday night, Facebook had removed the ad entirely.
The justification? Previously, Facebook had indicated they would take down ads that failed to pass a fact check from one of their “independent” fact checkers. Obviously APP’s ad passed the fact check, which PolitiFact admits. So Facebook added a brand new category to justify taking down demonstrably truthful political ads like ours: “Missing Context.” This newly invented rating seems to suggest we didn’t do enough to explain our opponent’s point of view. Objectively, of course, that could be said of every single campaign advertisement in the history of American politics. It certainly could be applied to every campaign advertisement being run by Joe Biden this cycle.
Will Facebook take down this ad, where the Biden campaign slams Donald Trump for concerns over mail-in voting but fails to provide the important context that some states, like New Jersey, are planning to send mail-in ballots to every voter on their voter rolls, whether or not they have applied for absentee ballots? Or what about this ad, where Biden accuses Donald Trump of “purposely downplaying” COVID-19 early on in the pandemic, without providing obvious context—that the president was trying to avoid creating a panic, and that he was far from the only one to undersell the virus’s potential to cause havoc?
A fair application of Facebook’s new policy regarding ads “Missing Context” would seem to disqualify both of these Biden ads. When can we expect the mass takedown to happen? Would love to hear from you, Andy Stone.
This is Not a Drill
But let’s get real. We all know that’s not going to happen. Biden’s ads are up. Ours are down. And there’s a reason for that.
This new “Missing Context” label is a way for Facebook to interfere directly in our elections with yet another thin pretense of “objectivity.” The arguments of favored activists and the woke ideology of the ruling class are redefined as needed “context,” toward which political advertisements are forced to bow in order to be deemed truthful.
This wasn’t a fact check. This was an ideology check. Are we to start airing our opponents’ arguments in full in our paid advertising? “The Equality Act would destroy women’s sports—yes—but also, some people say that women can have penises.”
And let’s be honest: there’s a more pressing reason for Facebook to remove our advertisement. The Left was absolutely terrified of it, and for good reason: it was working. As Media Matters pointed out, we were getting millions of impressions. We were targeting key swing voters in Michigan, perhaps the most important state for President Trump to win in November.
But that’s all for naught now. We’ll produce a new ad, and Facebook will reject that one, too. Maybe Politifact can write it for us. But then, of course, the goalposts will move again. Big Tech has appointed itself the sole arbiter of our elections, and American Principles Project PAC is not allowed to participate. Social conservatives are not allowed to participate. Anodyne Republicans will soon not be allowed to participate.
The only way out is through: with robust policy and political leadership. A free and honest public square can’t long survive living in Mark Zuckerberg’s pocket, or that of any Big Tech overlord. We need a political solution, and we need one fast. Is it Section 230 reform? Is it Antitrust? Is it something more radical? Maybe. The gatekeepers of speech are already willing to choke out certain arguments on their platforms to protect their social standing. We know what they will do with political arguments that threaten their actual power.
But until that power is threatened by a countervailing power—say, of politicians willing to use the force of law—the American Right can forget about making arguments in the public square.
This incident and many others like it which will follow as the election season unfolds are ultimately about the future of America—about whether or not we as a people can keep a representative form of government. As Abraham Lincoln once said:
With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.
Those who are not allowed to mold public sentiment by means of political speech are thereby not allowed to participate in the lawmaking or political decision-making process. They are effectively no longer citizens, but serfs living their lives according to the whim of overlords who alone can dictate the boundaries of governmental policy.
Those who think they are practicing the political virtues of prudence and moderation by refusing to acknowledge the political seriousness of the problem are, in truth, leading us down a path in which political speech no longer matters. Whenever citizens are prevented from attempting to persuade and debate one another, force and violence will be all they have left to stave off complete subjection and servitude.
The most dangerous efforts of “collusion” and the most subversive operations to exert undue “influence” on the 2020 election come not from foreign nations, but from within America itself. Americans do not want to be governed by oligarchs. Americans do not want the public square policed by woke cultists with credentials from elite colleges. But if political leaders on the American Right do not take action to protect political speech, what little political power they yet possess will soon be rendered meaningless.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.
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In 2010, Claremont Institute Senior Fellow Angelo Codevilla reintroduced the notion of "the ruling class" back into American popular discourse. In 2017, he described contemporary American politics as a "cold civil war." Now he applies the "logic of revolution" to our current political scene.
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