Free speech isn’t free. In fact, what passes for “free speech” today may cost us our freedom.
Those who turned democracy into a money-driven, hate-fueled venture are determined to drive the last nail in America’s coffin. The First Amendment is their hammer. Wyoming is now the battleground to remake our Republic in the image of those with money in their pockets and hate in their hearts.
Recently a Michigan robo-call company filed a Wyoming lawsuit arguing they have a First Amendment right to misinform you with annoying and misleading automated calls.
Republics are defined by democratic characteristics. Power is located in the people’s right to elect representatives. Inherent is the requirement that voters be sufficiently informed that the process is connected to their interests and those of the nation.
Courts are being asked to make certain those with money control the mechanics of informing the voters.
There’s a fight in our Divided States of America to determine whether voters are informed or misinformed. Like combat units softening up the enemy with mortars before the infantry charges, vilifying the media was the opening salvo. The second stage of this battle is what Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s last genuine republicans, warned us about.
“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country,” he said. That future Lincoln saw was one in which “corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
That’s the coffin in which some strive to lay our Republic. To the lasting shame of conservatives, the most sacred of our Constitutional protections is being used to accomplish their goals.
Seven years ago, conservatives persuaded the Supreme Court to lay the groundwork for an oligarchy, a form of government in which the supreme power no longer resides in the voters but in a small group of economically powerful people. It’s money and the power it buys, not votes, that matter.
In a 2010 decision, “Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission,” the Court sided with big money over the voters. By a 5-4 vote, the justices said free-speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment allow corporations and political action committees to spend unrestricted amounts of money to “inform” the voters. They also protected “misinformation” under the First Amendment.
These aren’t actual humans volunteering to help candidates by calling potential voters. These are thousands of unsolicited, unwanted, and frequently deceptive computer-generated calls.
Calls made by unaccountable organizations with misleading names, deprive voters of any knowledge of their motives. They make misleading assertions intended, not to inform, but to misinform. A particular subset of voters is targeted after polls show the specific message that might sway them.
The message is seldom fact based. Evidence in a South Carolina suit showed robocallers falsely tying Democrats running for the state legislature to Nancy Pelosi. Because the caller and the sponsoring committee are basically anonymous, claims are made without regard for accuracy. The process requires lots of money and “Citizen’s United” made sure some had it.
That’s what passes for “free speech” in today’s America.
Conservatives care little that you don’t want your phone ringing incessantly and causing unwanted intrusions at all hours of the day, spewing negative campaigning. It’s their bread and butter.
They believe their right to what they call free speech is greater than your right to be free of their speech.
Some are so committed to winning they are willing to use the constitution against the Republic. These tactics turn off voters, driving them away from the process at precisely the time they need to fight back. That may be the robocaller’s goal.
Wyoming judges must decide whether free speech includes perverting the constitution. Wyoming judges can protect the Republic or become accomplices to burying it.