Of course, public spaces ought to be available for political speech, even for overt campaign events. Banning a particular subject matter from, say, a gathering spot on the campus of a public college would be pretty much the definition of a free speech violation.
On the other side of the scale, of course, government shouldn’t be in the business of endorsing political candidates, although politicians’ activities would have to be pretty egregious to enter into the gray area, let alone cross the line. Rhode Island Democrats seem to be getting pretty close, though.
This afternoon, former U.S. President and known liar Bill Clinton swung through Rhode Island to promote his wife’s candidacy for the same Oval Office he once used to cheat on her, and…
- The event was at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI).
- The event was in the middle of the workday (and government and school are both in session).
- The college president helped introduce the politician.
- The governor spoke, very politically.
- At least half of the four statewide-elected officials in the state were in attendance.
Any one (or even four) of these factors wouldn’t indicate anything inappropriate, but at some point isn’t it incumbent on politicians wearing multiple hats to make it very clear which hat they’re wearing?
One might expect politicians to push the envelope in making it look as if the government and the people it ostensibly represents find their fellow partisans to be the natural candidates for public office, but the most worrying thing of all is that I’m likely the only person even expressing discomfort that a hard-to-reach gray area has been reached, if not breached.