For Equal Treatment of Political Activity


The infamous Supreme Court Citizens United decision, you might recall, affirmed the right of private citizens acting through a corporation to collect funds, develop a movie about a politician, and promote that movie.  According to progressives (and moderates who are sadly taken in by the ploy), Citizens United was not a landmark case protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights, but an assault on our civic system, allowing unaccountable, unlimited funds to pour into politics and affect elections and, therefore, our government.

In the specific case of Citizens United, the targeted politician was Hillary Clinton, and as she runs once again — if anything, even less credibly than in 2008 — those who are struggling for some justification to feel good about voting for her are once again evoking the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”  Take this approximation of a statement made to me last week: “Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, but for her to survive for so long in the face of such a well-funded movement to bring her down shows character and competence.”

It’s worthwhile to pause now and then and notice the double-standard for all such talk.  The news media, for example, is largely made up of private corporations making money by developing and promoting content that is often biased.  The coordinated, well-funded movement to advance conservative policies and politicians pales in comparison with the coordinated, well-funded movement to advance progressive policies and politicians, and that’s even before we add in the value of labor unions, a left-wing bureaucracy, and the network of schools, colleges, and universities that do much of the Left’s baseline indoctrination work.

For some quick examples on a summer Wednesday, one need go no farther than today’s Providence Journal.  Here’s the front page:


How much, do you suppose, would the Clinton campaign be willing to pay for this “news coverage” if it were instead a front-page advertisement?  If Citizens United was a threat to civic society, what is this?

Turn now to a tiny story on the next page, reflecting something that Matt Allen noticed the other day on his Twitter account:

Late Monday night, a post from the state Department of Health’s Twitter account praised the speakers on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. …

Answering each response, the department repeatedly tweeted: “A spokesperson mistakenly tweeted on RIDOH’s account instead of her own. Tweet not on RIDOHs behalf. Apologies 4 the confusion”.

Let’s give the Dept. of Health the benefit of the doubt and believe that a state employee with access to its Twitter account didn’t purposefully send out partisan material.  Even as an accident, it’s all too predictable that when such mistakes are made, they are pro-Democrat.  Just try to imagine a state employee accidentally putting pro-Trump tweets on the agency feed.

Turn, next, to a letter to the editor to which the Projo gives the headline, “Trump called Republicans the nation’s ‘dumbest’ voters.”  That headline promotes a thoroughly discredited falsehood, yet the editors apparently found it sufficiently plausible that they didn’t do a simple Google search to determine if the Republican candidate had really said such an outrageous thing.  Even more, the letter is attributed to Roger Mandle, a former Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) president.  Is anybody surprised that such a personage would be so partisan as to write and submit a letter premised on a lie?

For our last stop, turn to this story about a short program being jointly offered by RISD and the Rhode Island Foundation:

The question is timely: What is the meaning of civics to Americans in 2016, this year of tumultuous national politics? An answer — or answers — may emerge from Rhode Island School of Design’s innovative Institute for Design + Public Policy workshop, a five-day program scheduled for early next month. 

The workshop promises additional value to its diverse group of participants — individuals from Hasbro and Amica, the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the federal EPA and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, The Nature Conservancy and more than a dozen others.

Anyone want to wager on the general tone and bias of this workshop?

To bring this post around full circle, let’s close with the participation in this workshop of Erika Niedowski, a former Associated Press journalist in Rhode Island who now works for the Democrat lieutenant governor — a position from which employment in the lucrative Rhode Island public sector is one obvious career path.  The transitions among these worlds are seamless.

So as to avoid the impression that I’m closing with some sort of personal attack, I’d stress that I have no objection to any of the above (with the exception of the Dept. of Health tweet).  People have their biases and their vocations and they make their career decisions accordingly.  Moreover, when it comes to the relevant matters of hypocrisy, I’m not for subjecting newspapers to the rigors of campaign finance law, but for eliminating those unconstitutional laws in the first place.

That’s the problem.  Progressives tend to see their own views as unbiased assessments of reality, and therefore understand advancement of their visions to be an objective enterprise for the good of humanity.  That’s wrong not only because implementing policies in accord with their worldview is detrimental to human well-being, but also because they’re giving themselves freedoms and privileges that they seek to deny to those who disagree with them.

  • Has anyone filed a formal legal complaint against the Rhode Island Department of Health for misuse of public resources? If not, then why not? What is the procedure for doing so?