Even the Center Gets It Squarely

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Most times, the average conservative in America simply cannot stand the average moderate, particularly those that claim to be in the center-right.

The squishy middle. The spineless center. The voter that simply can’t pick a set of principles to stick to. The American that gets caught up more in aesthetics, not actions and results.

And, just the same, there is a glare of judgment that the center often gives the hard edge, particularly those that hold this edge responsible for the destabilization of political functionality and sensible rationale in policymaking over the course of the past decade.

The extreme. The reactionary zealot class. The media-chasing sycophancy. The American that is more caught up in the narrow-minded silos of social media and echo chambers than focused on challenges within a diverse contemporary America.

Yet just a glance across this past week’s feedback and heartburn over the decision to continue the “Facebook jailing” of the 45th president shows an interesting trend: in an era where many decry that the very essence of America is being eroded away, there are signs that there is a core of Americans that refuse to allow our values to simply fade away.

Everyone from Bill Maher (hardly a center-right pundit) to Michael Smerconish took to the airs to decry Facebook’s decision, not in a rallying defense for any particular man or movement, but in an act in support of the founding principles of this nation. There is something wholly un-American and duplicitous around any attempt to construct dual sets of standards to the application of freedom of speech. And while these parameters are set, rather objectively, within the words of the Constitution, the subjective extrapolation of these guideposts to private companies such as social media giants and television stations create the home-team analyses and approaches that lead to presidents being ban from Twitter but members of Congress being excused for similarly-divisive behavior.

Aggressively noting that some Americans are not welcomed in our nation “…anymore, anywhere…” – without repercussions and often with accolades on the same social media platforms that restrict the sentiments of others – echoes a time that our forefathers vowed to never allow to rise again.

If any person or business entity seeks to be a force for good in our nation and for our values, it is imperative that a consistent, constitutional, and cohesive set of standards be applied. Traditionally, it is a set of standards that allows for a First Amendment right to be a non-violent bigot (even in public spaces) – as intellectually ignorant and repugnant as that can be – just as much as it allows via the First Amendment to push back against immoral and unjust laws, as contemporarily and historically paradoxical the stance might be.

No moral ground is stable if the foundation is built upon premises of preferences and emotions, not God-given rights. A moral authority on issues such as free speech is lost when the authority transitions from God’s free will and Americans’ right to choose towards an autocratic process by those that, ironically, seek to subvert the traditions of democratic free speech in a direct response to a public figure they deem as subverting democratic traditions.

In our democratic republic, no man or set of ideas should be so challenging and damaging to the nation that her or his speech must be banned – in the private sector or in the public sphere – in a manner that cannot be qualified by the Constitution, applicable across our diversity, and fair and just in its application. Our Great Experiment demands that we leverage our history, our education system, our interwoven society (albeit a rapidly-dividing one), and our commonality via our set of civic values to battle through the tough challenges and the bitter debates that forge a more perfect union.

The government was set up for these types of tensions with an understanding that the American people will find it within themselves to continue the course without any mortal self-sabotage – from attempting to make our democratic republic a pure democracy to making our nation ruled under God a country ruled via the numbers within a majority. Both of those examples lead to the casting out of a moral minority, a dynamic that has saved our nation at varying times over history, from abolition to entering World War II.

Private social media companies should not scoff at the traditions that our nation extols, especially when the standards are unclear and unilaterally applied. The center has squarely agreed with other Americans (including the ACLU): this decision by Facebook has created a set of problems on free speech and constitutional guidance that should be resolved through our rights as Americans, not shut down through the attempt to deny a critical right.

Our nation cannot serve as a shining city on a hill if the lights are shut off due to unbiased arbiters and sliding standards. Our nation cannot survive our 1960s moments if we cannot rally behind the commonality of constitutional guidance, even as we seem to disagree on most everything else.