Presidential candidate Nimarata “Nikki” Haley made national headlines last week proposing to run roughshod over the First Amendment by pledging to use government power to effectively dox every anonymous account on private social media companies. While she failed to mention Elon Musk’s platform by name, the clear object of her derision was X – the only major social media company that allows some semblance of the ancient concept of free speech, which is otherwise on life-support if not dead already on much of the rest of the internet, to still exist. Haley explained her policy on Fox News: “They need to verify every single person on their outlet, and I want it by name.”
The irony of this policy proposal, as noted by many commentators, is that even Haley does not honestly represent herself online by using the fake name, Nikki, instead of her birth name, Nimarata – and so would also be penalized by her own policy.
But the more fundamental point is just how anti-American – and dangerous – Haley’s statements are. She so obviously lacks a comprehensive understanding of the First Amendment’s meaning, which protects an inalienable right (that is to say: absolute), to say nothing of basic distinctions between public and private speech. The government cannot regulate private speech whatsoever, full stop – particularly the speech of anonymous users of a private company. America has a longstanding tradition of allowing not only free speech, but free speech under pseudonyms to protect the identity of its author. Case in point: the Federalist Papers, which Haley clearly has never heard of, that were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, under the pseudonym “Publius” to persuade the general public of the need to ratify the new Constitution, which displaced the much weaker Articles of Confederation.
The Founding Fathers anticipated, in writing under a pseudonym, what is so widely understood today with anonymous posters, that for certain topics and in certain times it becomes necessary to not attach a face to a controversial idea in order to avoid social backlash. Political speech then as now, has always elicited passionate emotions, and so the Founders clearly saw the need to occasionally write under a pseudonym – often, it was to protect their lives and fortunes – which they literally put on the line in taking up arms against the British in the Revolution. But sometimes, anonymous speech was a necessary rhetorical strategy, one that could create distance between author and reader, particularly someone with the notoriety as Hamilton and Madison, the architects of the Constitution, and create an impression of neutrality and objectivity for their audience. Whatever the reason, the Founders agreed that anonymous speech fell within the gamut of the First Amendment, and that speech, like all speech, must be guaranteed no matter the cost: for, the right to speak freely is preponderate for a democratic society, from which all other rights flow.
Indeed, if it were not for the anonymously authored Federalist Papers, the Constitution might not have been ratified in the first place – and the guarantee of free speech would have been lost to history. That shows just how important that guarantee is. It further shows just how reckless, stupid, and insane Haley’s policy recommendation was. Fortunately, Haley was not around at the time the Constitution was ratified, but if her understanding of the First Amendment was common in the late eighteenth century, America might never have existed as a nation.
Haley’s ravenous desire to create government lists of people she deems enemies of the state is something out of the Biden regime’s playbook. It is already well known how the intelligence agencies and DOJ are already doing this with Trump supporters who peacefully demonstrated at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, as well as for legions of other law-abiding Americans who protested woke indoctrination and the teaching of critical race theory at their children’s schools, or who so much as questioned the integrity of the 2020 election results. The goal of these lists has always been obvious: the government wants to crush all opposition – and history shows that what starts benignly with lists and doxing will invariably lead to the gulag.
Even though we are going to likely dodge a bullet as a country and never, thankfully, be forced to suffer through a “Haley administration,” arguably the damage has been already done. The fact that a Republican presidential candidate, the last party with any shot at preserving the First Amendment, can go on national television and mouth the same anti-free speech bromides as the Left, sounding like Antifa in its most radical mood, without significant condemnation is alarming. If America still retained its constitutional values, Haley’s statements would have been automatically disqualifying. Indeed, in a proper country, the political climate would be such that no major party candidate – unless he was an insane crackpot – would even think to mouth something as grotesquely anti-American as Haley did on primetime cable news.
At a time in which free speech social media platforms like X, Rumble, and Truth Social are receiving intense scrutiny from far-left watchdog groups, such as Media Matters, and concerted advertiser boycotts led by woke brands, such as Apple and Disney, the need to take a stand on behalf of the First Amendment is stronger than ever. If anything, every presidential candidate should recognize the urgency of this moment – and double down in their criticisms of left-wing organizations, like the ADL, attempting to derail what may go down as the final battle in America for the preservation of free speech. If X, the digital town square, goes dark – it is difficult to imagine how free speech might ever thrive again on the internet, now in thrall to a Silicon Valley that gets more woke by the day. And in the digital age, that could well mean the death of the First Amendment for all time.
Only those men with actual skin in the game – people like Elon Musk and Donald Trump – truly understand the gravity of the task at hand, and how high the stakes are. It is yet another reason why they, and not people like Haley, should be the ones stewarding the ships of state and social media. Those, like Haley, who profit from the demise of our freedoms deserve nothing but contempt. In a more serious time, Haley’s recommendations would have been treasonous, and prosecuted as such, because they necessarily erode the fabric of our civilization. For the sake of the country, let us hope that most Americans share that same view.