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Finley: Harris wins dumb idea contest during debate

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Of all the constitutionally offensive ideas aired on the Democratic debate stage Tuesday night, and there were a bunch of them, the dumbest came from Sen. Kamala Harris.

The Californian repeated her previous call for Twitter to suspend President Donald Trump’s account, and then badgered Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to go on record in support of her demand.

Warren didn’t, choosing instead to continue her rant about breaking up Big Tech.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio.

None of her rivals reminded Harris that the First Amendment would likely frown on cutting off an American president from an important communications tool.

Nor did they note that under the American political system, we debate our opponents, not silence them.

Harris’ open recruitment of a tech giant like Twitter to collude with Democrats to silence a Republican president seeking re-election fuels the fears of conservatives that they are being pushed out of the new electronic public square.

Twitter and Facebook already censor conservatives at a greater rate than liberals and hold them to higher standards of civility. That’s why James Wood’s Twitter account is suspended while Bette Midler’s is still up.

You don’t have to be a tin hat wearer to worry about the power of a dominant search engine such as Google to influence public opinion and sway an election by manipulating what its viewers see.

Last week, some of the television networks broke away from a Trump speech when he started talking about the Biden family, explaining to viewers that they made the move because the president wasn’t telling the truth.

That’s a dangerous precedent. It shouldn’t be up to partisan-leaning media to decide what the public hears. 

Trump has found Twitter an effective means of bypassing the old messaging gatekeepers to talk directly to the American people. Sometimes it helps him, often it hurts him. But no one is forced to follow him. 

If Harris thinks it’s OK to shut down a president’s ability to speak to the people, she’s not qualified to take the oath of office to protect the Constitution. She clearly doesn’t believe in free speech. 

Trump is the first Twitter president. He won’t be the last. Harris should understand that should she realize her ambition of reaching the White House, there will be a whole lot of folks calling for her accounts to be suspended as well.

Shutting off an opponent’s access to the people through social media can’t be allowed to become the newest political weapon in America. 

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

Catch Nolan Finley on One Detroit at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on Detroit Public Television.