With Hillary Clinton, I didn’t really expect a resurrection, but I knew that, if it happened, it would be a strange one. Sure enough, Hillary’s back, and this time she makes a bizarre case for why digital moguls should not only censor more; they should also be forced to censor more by the U.S. government. Her point is that democracy itself requires this, a surpassingly odd claim for a former candidate of the party that calls itself “democratic” to make.
Let’s turn to the video clip that Hillary Clinton recently released. The key sentences in an accompanying tweet are that “democracies can’t thrive when citizens can’t agree on what’s true.”
Tech companies, she contends, have made “algorithm-driven conspiracy rabbit holes a feature of our information ecosystem.” Hence, “there needs to be a reckoning” and government itself must mandate censorship when it’s not being generated voluntarily by the digital companies.
To my way of thinking, this is an attack on free speech and on democracy. It’s nothing less than a formula for tyranny. We can see this by looking more closely at Hillary’s argument. Like most arguments, it turns on the truth of its basic premise. This premise is that democracy somehow requires its participants to agree on “what’s true.” Hillary defines this to mean general unanimity on three things: facts, evidence, and truth.
Yet we have had a two-party system in this country virtually from its beginnings, and the two major parties have never in fact agreed on these things, not merely in times of great crisis, but even in calmer, more ordinary times. Hamilton and Jefferson, for example, disagreed on whether the Constitution gives the federal government the power to create a national bank. Hamilton said it does; Jefferson said no.
Both appealed to the Constitution. Jefferson said there was no specific authority in the document to create a bank. Hamilton insisted that nevertheless there was implied authority, since the Constitution proclaimed the goals or ends of government, and then gave Congress the power to do things “necessary and proper” to those ends. Thus, we have here, and on the part of two of the leading founders no less, basic disagreement on what the Constitution in fact permits.
Fast forward now to the Lincoln–Douglas debates in the middle of the 19th century. Lincoln accused his Democratic opponent Stephen Douglas of being pro-slavery. Douglas denied it, insisting he merely wanted to leave the slavery question up to each state and territory to decide for itself. Lincoln claimed that this attempt to evade the basic moral question was in fact the most pro-slavery position imaginable, because it concealed the wrong of slavery by hiding it behind a seemingly neutral procedure. Again, Lincoln and Douglas disagreed on the facts, on the evidence each side produced in support of its position, and on the truth itself.
More recently, toward the latter part of the 20th century, President Ronald Reagan proposed a missile defense program that leading Democrats said would never work. It was technically impossible. Reagan insisted that it would work. Democrats produced leading scientists—Nobel laureate Hans Bethe, the Union of Concerned Scientists—to say it couldn’t be done. Reagan produced his own luminaries—Edward Teller, inventor of the hydrogen bomb, top scientists at Los Alamos and Livermore national laboratories—who said the exact opposite. A basic dispute over facts!
This dispute over facts became a broader dispute over evidence and truth. Democrats went on to say that no missile defense could stop every incoming Soviet warhead. Reagan said that wasn’t necessary, since deterrence could be achieved merely by blunting the force of a Soviet first strike against American land-based missiles and military targets. Bottom line: The initial dispute over technical possibilities became a broader dispute over what the real objective was, and what was necessary to get there.
Finally, let’s consider the events of Jan. 6. While the Democrats insisted that they witnessed an insurrection, a terrorist attack, and an attempted coup, they never bothered to define these terms and match them up against what we actually saw, what actually happened. As many conservatives and Republicans have subsequently asked, is it possible to have an unarmed insurrection? The last insurrection against the U.S. government was in 1861, the attack on Fort Sumter. Can Jan. 6 reasonably be compared to that?
The other terms seem equally preposterous. Coups are forcible attempts to overthrow a government and seize power, as with the Pinochet coup in Chile. Yet on Jan. 6 no one even stuck around the Capitol for more than an hour or so. What kind of coup attempt is that? Finally, is it possible to have a terrorist attack without anyone being killed? The only person intentionally killed on Jan. 6 was Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter, shot by a Capitol Hill police officer. What resemblance is there between Jan. 6 and genuine terrorist actions like the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11? The answer is clearly none.
The basic point here is that truth is elusive. It doesn’t come delivered on a silver platter. It emerges as a consequence of ongoing, spirited debate. Even the basic terms of the debate are often disputed. Facts are in dispute, evidence is in dispute, and truth is seldom agreed upon, if ever. This has been known at least since the time of Socrates, who said that ignorance is man’s natural condition and knowing how little we know is the first step toward wisdom.
Hillary’s clear motivation is to make herself, and her party, and the digital moguls that are allied with her side, proprietors of the truth. They get to say what facts are really facts, minimizing all facts inconvenient to their narrative. They get to decide what counts as evidence, dismissing evidence that strengthens the case of the other side. They become custodians of truth itself, and arrogate to themselves the right to silence the other side in the name of protecting truth from error.
In the name of protecting democracy, Hillary is attacking democracy, because democracy requires free and open debate so that citizens can see the diverse courses of action available to them, and hear the competing cases for going one way instead of another way. Only then can they make wise decisions upon adjudicating the merits of the facts, evidence, and arguments presented to them. We can either have the robust give-and-take of genuine democracy, or we can let Hillary and her ilk decide everything for us, and rule tyrannically over us.
Dinesh D’Souza is an author, filmmaker, and daily host of the Dinesh D’Souza podcast.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.