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MEET THE FIRST FEMALE FRESHMAN REPUBLICAN CLASS PRESIDENT in our latest Ripon Profile of Stephanie Bice
August 2022 Volume 56, No. 3
FAKE NEWS & THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD WASHINGTON STEP IN OR STEP ASIDE?
Plus: Protecting Our Kids in the Age of Social Media And: Where Bipartisan Opportunities Exist for Tech Reform www.riponsociety.org
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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 56, Number 3 Politics and Perspective
To Confront the Global Food Crisis, Quiet American Diplomacy Will No Longer Do By Mark Lowcock We are now in the midst of the biggest food crisis the world has seen in decades. The U.S. has led the response to this crisis. Now, it must convince other countries to do more, as well.
Fake News and the Federal Government: Should Washington Step In or Step Aside? By Elisabeth Braw Today, misinformation and its malicious sibling, disinformation, permeate U.S. society so thoroughly that citizens have no way of knowing which information is accurate.
How Ukraine is Impacting the Transatlantic Relationship By Giles Merritt Russia’s war in Ukraine is transforming Europe’s neglect of energy and defense policies into a dangerous wedge dividing the United States from the European Union.
Where Bipartisan Opportunities Exist for Tech Reform By Tom Romanoff While Congress debates partisan tech agendas, the EU is passing laws that put them in the driver’s seat of data privacy and how our tech companies operate abroad. It’s time for both parties to put politics aside.
Building Trust and Enhancing Performance By Terry Gerton To rebuild the public’s faith in government, those who run government need to take on the challenges people care about in a way that gets results and makes a difference in their lives.
Protecting Our Kids in the Age of Social Media By Diana Graber There is a mental health crisis amongst America’s youth which many place squarely on the shoulders of technology in general, and social media in particular. It’s an easy enough correlation to make.
What Does It Mean to Be a Centrist Today? By Michael Hayes America needs Republicans to provide a responsible alternative to the Democrats. GOP centrists can meet this need by advancing an alternative different than the radical left and authoritarian right.
Debate - “Social Media Platforms: Public Square or Private Property?”
Progressive Conservatism: How Republicans Will Become America’s Natural Governing Party Q&A with Frank Buckley With the GOP well positioned to regain control of the House and possibly the Senate this November, a discussion about a governing philosophy to guide the party’s course in the coming years. Publisher The Ripon Society Jim Conzelman, President Editor Lou Zickar Deputy Editor Kyle Chance Advertising Coordinator Autumn Reed
Editorial Board Thomas Tauke Michael Castle Erik Paulsen Billy Pitts Pamela Sederholm Jim Murtha John Feehery Sara Glenn
The First Amendment Protects Freedom of Speech, Not Your Right To Someone Else’s Megaphone By Adam Kovacevich
To Protect Free Speech, Social Media Platforms Must Stop their Overreach By David Keating
Sections 3 27 28
In this Edition News & Events Ripon Profile - U.S. Rep. Stephanie Bice
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RIPON FORUM August 2022
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THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Todd Young – Senate Co-Chair Marsha Blackburn Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer John Hoeven Jerry Moran Mike Rounds Thom Tillis Roger Wicker U.S. Representatives: Rodney Davis - House Co-Chair Jackie Walorski - House Co-Chair Darin LaHood - Vice Chair, Midwest Mike Kelly - Vice Chair, Northeast Dan Newhouse - Vice Chair, West Frank Lucas - Vice Chair, Southwest Ann Wagner - Vice Chair, South Mark Amodei Kelly Armstrong Don Bacon Troy Balderson Andy Barr Stephanie Bice Mike Bost Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Buddy Carter Tom Cole John Curtis Tom Emmer Ron Estes Randy Feenstra Brian Fitzpatrick Andrew Garbarino Anthony Gonzalez Kay Granger Garret Graves Sam Graves Jessica Herrerra Beutler French Hill Trey Hollingsworth Bill Huizenga Bill Johnson Dusty Johnson Dave Joyce John Joyce, M.D. John Katko Young Kim Adam Kinzinger Bob Latta Billy Long Nancy Mace Brian Mast Kevin McCarthy Michael McCaul Peter Meijer Carol Miller John Moolenaar Blake Moore Guy Reschenthaler Tom Rice Cathy McMorris Rodgers Steve Scalise Adrian Smith Lloyd Smucker Pete Stauber Bryan Steil Glenn “GT” Thompson Mike Turner Fred Upton David Valadao Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. Steve Womack
In this edition
With the Biden Administration backing off its plans to create a Disinformation Governance Board, the latest edition of The Ripon Forum examines the effort to combat fake news in America and what the appropriate role of the federal government should be. “Today, misinformation and its malicious sibling, disinformation, permeate U.S. society so thoroughly that citizens have no way of knowing which information is accurate,” writes Elisabeth Braw in our cover essay. “Someone needs to clean up the information environment, or otherwise, U.S. society will fragment as different groups believe different sources of information.” Braw, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argues that while citizens and the private sector must take the lead in combatting disinformation, Washington also has a small, albeit an important, role. “Because governments of liberal democracies would enter treacherous waters if they tried to regulate the public discourse,” she writes, “any U.S. government intervention into the information flow has to be limited to falsehoods spread by foreign governments.” She also argues that, rather that creating a new board or commission, a federal entity is already in place that can achieve this goal. “The Global Engagement Center, a small unit within the State Department already tasked with countering foreign-led disinformation, could easily be expanded and given power to coordinate U.S. Government responses,” she writes. Now that the White House has shelved the disinformation board, attention has turned to Capitol Hill to see what, if any, role Congress decides to play. According to Tom Romanoff of the Bipartisan Policy Center, there are a number of areas where common ground can be found. “If there is an opportunity for bipartisan legislation around curbing bias and misinformation online,” he writes, “it is in reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, either by adding carve-outs to the existing language or passing new laws to address issues that stem from misinformation online.” In another essay, Diana Graber, the Founder of Cyber Civics & Cyberwise, highlights another reason why action is needed to clean up what is seen and viewed online — youth mental health. She argues that instead of waiting for policymakers to pass legislation that may or may not be effective, the focus instead should be on education and improving the digital literacy of kids. “Online misinformation, disinformation, clickbait, deepfakes, infinite scrolling, disturbing and graphic content, cyberbullying, and more are not going away any time soon and no law will protect kids from all these things,” she writes. “But youth armed with digital literacy skills will be less likely to believe information designed to mislead, fall into rabbit holes created by algorithms, be tricked by clickbait, seduced by persuasive technology, and they will know what to do when they encounter cruelty online.” In a pair of op-eds examining the broader issue of federal authority and whether Washington has a role to play in regulating the Internet, Adam Kovacevich, the Founder and CEO of Chamber of Progress, and David Keating, the President of the Institute for Free Speech, take opposite sides of the question — “Social Media Platforms: Public Square or Private Property?” With trust in government near an all-time low in part because of social media and online disinformation, Terry Gerton, the President and CEO of the National Academy of Public Administration, shares her thoughts on the steps that policymakers should take to get that trust back. With Republicans favored to retake control of the House and possibly the Senate in November, Colgate Professor Emeritus Michael Hayes, in an essay, and George Mason Professor of Law Frank Buckley, in an interview, share their thoughts on the GOP’s future and the principles and philosophy the party should take to build a governing majority in the years ahead. In two essays examining a pair of crises gripping the world, Sir Mark Lowcock, the former UnderSecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations, and Giles Merritt, a former journalist and founder of the prominent EU policies think tank, Friends of Europe, assess the global food shortage and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the steps the U.S. and her allies should take to confront both. And in our latest Ripon Profile, first-term Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (OK-5) discusses the issue facing America not receiving enough attention and the challenge facing her district she is working hard to address. As always, we hope you find this latest edition of The Ripon Forum interesting and informative, and we welcome any comments or questions you might have. Lou Zickar, Editor email@example.com RIPON FORUM August 2022
Politics & Perspective
To Confront the Global Food Crisis, Quiet American Diplomacy Will No Longer Do by MARK LOWCOCK BlackRock founder Larry Fink attracted attention to play their part, too. Action is needed in four areas. this month when he told the Financial Times he was First, there’s an urgent need to get more grain, concerned about the global food situation. “The one especially wheat and corn, onto the market. The thing I worry about that we don’t talk enough about easiest way to do that is to extricate the 20 million is food. This isn’t just an inflation concern. There are tons stuck in silos in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports as geopolitical concerns that result from this … There has a result of the Russian blockade. Pressure on Putin been tremendous destruction of arable land in Ukraine from Turkey, the Middle East, and Africa has led … Globally the cost of fertilizer to an agreement to allow is up almost 100 per cent … that that grain out. Time will tell is harming the quality of the crop whether that deal is honored. worldwide”. It would also be desirable for He’s right. We are now in the those countries holding large midst of the biggest food crisis strategic grain reserves to the world has seen in decades. release a modest proportion of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has them to free up the market and dramatically exacerbated it. But take the edge off prices. The even before that, the combination U.S. has already made a start; of conflict, climate change and others, notably China, should COVID had pushed the number do so, too. Export curbs should of people facing acute food likewise be avoided. insecurity from less than 600 Second, recognizing million in 2015 to nearly 830 that exports from Russia and million today – a hike of more Ukraine may not return to than 30 percent. their 2021 and previous levels The Secretary-General of the anytime soon, policymakers Sir Mark Lowcock United Nations has warned that in other countries with we may see multiple famines in significant export potential the next year. Famines – mass need to strengthen incentives We are now in the midst loss of life driven by starvation for additional food production. of the biggest food crisis – were common all over the Now may be the time to revisit world for most of human history. mandates that incentivize the the world has seen in The worst of them occurred in diversion of food crops for decades. Putin’s the 20th century. But, in a little biofuel. Particular attention remarked-on sign of progress, invasion of Ukraine needs to be paid to input markets, they had almost disappeared, with especially for fertilizer. The has dramatically just one significant occurrence so African Development Bank has exacerbated it. far this century – when 250,000 reported that fertilizer prices Somalis lost their lives in 2011. on the continent have risen by How shocking to contemplate that 300 percent, with a shortage of progress being thrown away. 2 million tons. In the 20 years from the mid-1980s, There’s still time to prevent this happening. assistance from developed countries for agricultural Congress and the Administration have made smart and development in poorer ones collapsed. Again, the generous decisions in recent months and progress now U.S. has made a start in reversing that; more is will require continued U.S. leadership. But others have needed and others should step up, too. 4
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Third, increasing the global food supply will not in previous years. Some of the appeals for countries at help if countries with large populations suffering food greatest risk of famine – Somalia, Afghanistan, and insecurity and unable to grow enough at home cannot Yemen among them – are now better funded than three finance imports. Many have seen their public finances months ago. But we are not out of the woods. crushed by COVID. R a p i d The leading implementation of shareholders recent U.S. decisions But even before that, the combination should mandate – and dropping some of conflict, climate change and COVID the international requirements that have had pushed the number of people f i n a n c i a l added costs and slowed institutions to offer things down in the facing acute food insecurity from less more affordable past, like U.S. cargo than 600 million in 2015 to nearly support. And preference requirements 830 million today – a hike of the current tepid – will be crucial. Others dialogue on who should do more – more than 30 percent. debt relief and including, regrettably, restructuring needs Britain – are lagging. heating up – with all the creditors round the table. Quiet American diplomacy to bring them along And finally, some countries home to millions might need to get louder. RF of people on the verge of starvation simply will not get through without more help from the leading Sir Mark Lowcock served as Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian agencies in the UN, the Red Cross, Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator and the NGO world. Incremental progress is being for the United Nations from 2017 to 2021 and is currently made. The UN says it has received $11 billion for its a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global humanitarian responses in 2022, more than at this stage Development.
pepsico.com RIPON FORUM August 2022
How Ukraine is Impacting the Transatlantic Relationship by GILES MERRITT As spring turned to summer this year, Europe’s leaders In the face of irresistible energy market forces, it is were undergoing a significant mind shift. Their longstanding hard to see how this will occur. As Europeans shiver and concerns over internal wrangling in the European Union were see their industries collapse, the reality will be that they replaced by fears over Europeans’ increased vulnerability to will also be treated to the spectacle of near-normality across external threats. the pond in America. The fact that Europeans’ otherwise Europeans are worried, of course, about Russia’s admirable environmental policies have compounded their ability to do them harm. But they energy problems won’t diminish their are also unsure of America. Decades resentment. of unquestioning reliance on U.S. The widening transatlantic cooperation and support are giving way “energy gap” will need delicate to doubt and suspicion. handling in Washington and Brussels. Transatlantic relations are nothing Relatively cosseted societies in the if not resilient, but they now require EU and U.S. have scarcely given a careful nursing. Russia’s war in Ukraine thought to energy other than over is transforming Europe’s neglect of climate change, But that’s about energy and defense policies into a to change. It is going to vex EU dangerous wedge dividing the United cohesion, but also Europe’s links with States from the European Union. the U.S. Europe has — understandably, but There will, though, be the also unforgivably — been sleepwalking countervailing force of mutual towards disaster in both of these areas. security in response to Putin’s Its priorities have been the complex aggression. It may be that the need to economic and political integration of show strength through unity within Giles Merritt so many different cultures. “A horse NATO will compensate for tensions and rabbit stew” is how the EU was over energy and other economic Russia’s war sometimes described, even before the issues dividing the U.S. and EU. But in Ukraine is Berlin Wall fell and its ‘Big Bang’ it is a hugely unbalanced relationship, enlargement to almost 30 members transforming Europe’s with Europe’s defense shortcomings a made it more heterogeneous still. constant U.S. irritation. neglect of energy and Europe’s awakening has been “Ukraine fatigue” could, defense policies into shocking and sudden. “How could meanwhile, spread in Europe if we,” ask politicians and business Putin were to unblock grain exports a dangerous wedge leaders,”have allowed ourselves to and slow his army’s advance in the dividing the United depend for energy on an unreliable Donbas region. The arrival of millions Russia led by a hostile Vladimir Putin?” of fleeing Ukrainians is already States from the As they scramble to design emergency giving rise to discontent. Germany, European Union. oil and gas strategies, Europeans also threatened by recession and its first cast envious looks across the Atlantic. trade deficit in living memory, has “Could America’s commitment to NATO’s collective identified the arrival of 700,000 refugees from Ukraine as a security extend to energy?” ask some politicians. With factor in its rising unemployment levels. major U.S. oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil “making Eight million newcomers whose length of stay cannot more money than God,” as President Joe Biden reportedly be determined are weighing heavily on social security and put it, and with winter looming, these politicians wonder if housing arrangements across Europe, and in Poland most transatlantic solidarity might somehow come to Europe’s of all. Warm-hearted initial responses are cooling now that rescue. the influx is twice that of initial estimates. Despite valiant 6
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efforts by UN agencies and the EU, burden-sharing tensions epoch-changing pledge to abandon its pacifist leanings and are beginning to sour intra-European relations. spend €100 billion on its armed services is important, but No one can say how effectively Europeans will handle will probably take 20 years to bear fruit. The same goes for Putin’s long-term threat to their security. The upbeat talk in all except France and Britain. Madrid at NATO’s annual summit could not disguise the The bottom line on the challenges now facing Europe is years of penny-pinching that they demand a degree on defense. By way of of sympathy and support It may be that the need to show contrast, the U.S. has from the United States that almost doubled to 100,000 has not lately been much strength through unity within NATO its troop levels in Europe, in evidence. American will compensate for tensions over and now accounts for twopublic opinion has become energy and other economic issues thirds of the forces along more isolationist, yet the NATO’s eastern flank. deepening global contest dividing the U.S. and EU. This uncomfortable between democracies and reliance on U.S. military autocracies clearly points power is complicated by lingering doubts in Europe as to to where U.S. self-interest lies. RF America’s reliability. President Donald J. Trump’s cavalier attitude to the alliance — indeed, his implicit suggestion Giles Merritt has reported and commented from Brussels the U.S. should withdraw from it — is not forgotten. The on European affairs since 1978, first as a Financial Times possibility that some future U.S. administration might tear staff correspondent and then as an Op-Ed contributor to up the hitherto sacrosanct Washington Treaty lurks at the the International Herald Tribune. He is the founder of the back of many Europeans’ minds. prominent EU policies think tank Friends of Europe and There will certainly be a drive on defense spending author of the ‘Slippery Slope: Europe’s Troubled Future’ within Europe, but there can be no quick fix. Germany’s (Oxford University Press 2016).
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Building Trust and Enhancing Performance
The keys to increasing confidence in government by TERRY GERTON The latest Pew Research Center data shows a mere 20 enhance performance and trust? I have four major suggestions: percent of Americans trust the federal government to do what’s Commit to addressing the most significant challenges right most or all of the time. Our public trust is lower than facing the country. To build trust, governments must not only Europe’s, according to a recent survey from the Organization make a commitment to addressing the most significant modernfor Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Yet day challenges facing our society, but also be able to demonstrate even in Europe, the public expressed concerns about insufficient progress while working in partnership with the public. They engagement opportunities and governmental responsiveness. could start with the Grand Challenges in Public Administration. Clearly, a lack of trust in Identified by the National Academy government is an issue that all of Public Administration, of which I developed democracies are facing, and am the President and CEO, the Grand it is exacerbated by a deep feeling of Challenges cover such critical topics as unease. The 21st Century, after all, has protecting and advancing democracy, not been kind to us. We’ve had the strengthening social and economic metaphorical equivalent of a 100-year development, ensuring environmental flood almost every year. From a global sustainability, and addressing pandemic to financial crises, terrorism, technological changes. The 12 Grand wars, school shootings, environmental Challenges are long-running issues calamities, and social inequities — the that require decade-long commitments, hits have come at a rapid pace. paradigm shifts, and collaborative It’s easy to despair. Yet, we partnerships for progress. can draw inspiration from previous Strategize in an iterative manner. generations of Americans who faced After committing to address these seemingly insurmountable problems. Grand Challenges, governments Consider the Great Depression and must develop comprehensive and Terry Gerton World War II era, which, as famously understandable strategies through described, was certainly “no ordinary active engagement with the public. time.” Those Americans went on to Establish clear goals, timelines, and Clearly, a lack of save our democracy, establish civil desired outcomes. Evaluate progress trust in government rights and liberties at home, and pioneer objectively and transparently over time. is an issue that a new international order. Given these Tell the public what’s working, what’s impressive accomplishments, is it not, and how to improve the results. all developed any wonder that citizens in the 1950s And adjust the strategies in real time, democracies are and 1960s reported such high trust in in an agile fashion, to ensure they don’t government? become obsolete. facing, and it is Just as our forebearers were “present capacity. Commitment exacerbated by a deep and Build at the creation” of a new world, we, too, strategy, while necessary, are feeling of unease. find ourselves living in an unsettled time insufficient. They must be matched in which the old ways of operating no with the administrative capacity longer fit the moment. A government that, all too often, lags public needs. must earn public trust by (1) advancing justice, fairness, and Federal, state, local, and Tribal governments must work inclusion and (2) creatively partnering with civil society to together more effectively, efficiently, and equitably to leverage meet critical needs. If politics is downstream of culture, trust is their individual capabilities to greater effect. They should downstream of these fundamental public values. incorporate lessons learned from academic studies, evaluations, What should American governments at all levels do to and organizational assessments more routinely into program 8
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design and operations. And as Baby Boomers continue to exit processes. the workforce, governments must do a better job of recruiting Modern America faces no shortage of challenges. But and retaining younger workers — especially the public-spirited each challenge is also an opportunity to come together across Millennial and Gen Z generations that want to give back, but our various divides – geographic, political, and generational often don’t see the – to grow and try public sector as the new things; to build To build trust, governments must not only place to do it. trust by making Institutionalize government make make a commitment to addressing the most new ways of working. life better for the significant modern-day challenges facing As horrific as the people it serves. pandemic has been, Together, our society, but also be able to demonstrate there’s one silver governments at all progress while working in partnership with lining: it changed levels must work in the public. the world of work partnership with each forever. Government other and the public, agencies turned truly listening to their on a dime, showing that it is possible for bureaucracies to concerns and then delivering high-performing results grounded adapt. Now, the public sector should be guided by a simple in the bedrock values of justice, fairness, and inclusion. rule: wherever possible, be agile. Streamline administrative This is the calling of our time, and as we work toward it, processes. Embrace digital tools such as AI where appropriate. we will find trust in government begins to grow again. RF Enhance the customer experience. Engage the workforce with team-based approaches. Mitigate hierarchy and silos with Terry Gerton is the President and CEO of the National Academy networks. Agile techniques can even be utilized in regulatory of Public Administration (@napawash).
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What Does It Mean to Be a Centrist Today?
in the reauthorization process, however, permitting gradual improvements over time. If an incremental bill proves to be inadequate, its very failure to solve the problem fully will make a strong case for additional legislation. Rejecting incremental bills that constitute a good first step in solving a problem, out of a misguided belief that bigger is always better, can prevent any action at all. This happened in 2020 when George Floyd’s death produced an aroused public opinion in favor of police reform. In the Senate, Tim Scott offered a Republican alternative to the bill passed by Democrats in the House. Although by MICHAEL T. HAYES Scott’s bill was arguably more realistic, Senate Democrats rejected Sixty years ago, a group of policy-oriented young Republicans it as too incremental and blocked it through a filibuster. The who proudly identified themselves as centrists founded The Ripon moment was lost, and the Democrats’ all-or-nothing approach Society. In so doing, they advanced a more moderate alternative prevented any legislation from being passed. Centrists also recognize that limited understanding of most to both the liberalism dominant in the Democratic Party and the policy problems precludes comprehensive solutions achieved emerging ideological conservatism of the Goldwater movement. through a single piece of legislation. Because we can almost never But what does it mean to be a centrist today? Contemporary say with certainty what consequences will flow from different Republican centrists have two signature characteristics. policy options, new policies should be viewed as experiments First, although they share with other Republicans a belief from which we can learn. in limited government, they Just as good scientific recognize that private action experiments focus on a single alone is insufficient to solve variable to isolate its effects, it some problems. Put another is easier to identify the source of way, they recognize that some unwanted consequences where problems are legitimately a policy makes incremental public, and they believe changes. Changing everything Republicans should identify at once, as transformative distinctively Republican policies do, makes it impossible proposals to address these to pinpoint what needs to problems. The Ripon Society be corrected. This is what has always been rooted in this Edmund Burke meant when he wing of the party. said, in reference to the French Second, Republican Michael T. Hayes Revolution, that “innovation is centrists care more about not reform.” lawmaking than political Properly understood, messaging and pursue Republican centrists care more centrism is not just “me too, incrementalism as a deliberate about lawmaking than political but less,” as critics on both the strategy. On any given day, left and right have charged. To the Ripon Advance highlights messaging and pursue incrementhe contrary, solving problems a wide variety of well-crafted talism as a deliberate strategy. gradually by building incremental initiatives offered incrementally on past policies by Republican lawmakers. is the most efficient way to achieve large change in a world of Big problems seem to demand big solutions, making value conflicts and imperfect knowledge. A series of small steps centrism appear insufficiently ambitious. In reality, however, comprehensive solutions are precluded whenever we disagree can add up to large change, and most of the time that is the only over what values we should try to maximize. Abortion provides way major policy changes can be achieved. The nation desperately needs the Republican Party to the most obvious example here, but there are many others. Even provide a responsible political alternative to the Democratic where actors on all sides seem to agree, conflict will arise over Party. Contemporary Republican centrists can meet this need by how much to spend on things we all claim to value, like national vigorously advancing and defending a centrist alternative to the defense. This is because we can’t afford everything we want, and radicalism of the progressive left and the authoritarian threat posed policymakers inevitably disagree over how to strike a balance by the contemporary right. RF among competing priorities. Because bargaining and compromise are almost always necessary to get anything done, proponents often regard A longtime member of The Ripon Society, Michael T. Hayes is legislative outcomes as disappointing. Laws can be revisited professor emeritus at Colgate University. 10
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Progressive Conservatism: How Republicans Will Become America’s Natural Governing Party Q&A with Frank Buckley
With polls showing that Republicans stand a good chance of recapturing control of the U.S. House and possibly the Senate in the November election, many Americans are asking what the party will do if it holds the reins of power next year. In the House, Republicans are attempting to provide an answer to that question by rolling out a series of proposals — which they are calling their “Commitment to America” — aimed at addressing high energy prices, rising violence, and some of the other key challenges Americans face. In the Senate, Republicans appear to be of two minds about which is the proper course to take. Some, such as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, believe the focus of the upcoming election should be on what Democrats have done — or failed to do — over the past two years. Others, such as Florida Senator Rick Scott, believe the party need to follow the House’s lead and put down in writing what they hope to achieve if they hold the majority next year. Frank Buckley is taking an even broader view. Buckley is a professor at George Mason University’s Scalia School of Law who is perhaps better known in Republican circles as the author of several speeches Donald Trump delivered during the 2016 presidential campaign. Buckley is no longer a supporter of the former President — he calls him “toxic.” But he is a supporter of some of the positions that Trump took and some of the messages that he conveyed. Buckley believes it is time for Republicans to move beyond the former President and get behind a vision that not only encapsulates some of these positions and messages, but appeals to the broad swath of working class Americans who supported Trump in response. Buckley lays out just such a vision in a new book. Called Progressive Conservatism: How Republicans Will Become America’s Natural Governing Party, the book recommends that members of the GOP look to three “leading statesmen” from the GOP’s past for guidance about the path to follow, and argues that issues relating to improving economic mobility, fighting corruption, and making government work will be keys to the party’s success in the years ahead. The Forum spoke with Buckley recently about his book, his vision for progressive conservatism, and where he would like to see the party go in 2022 and beyond.
RF: First things first — explain to our readers, what is a progressive conservative? FB: A progressive conservative is someone who is faithful to the leading statesmen of the Republican Party — Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Lincoln. There are several themes that are associated with those statesmen. Lincoln was the one who invented the American Dream — the idea that whoever you are, wherever you come from, you should be able to get ahead and your kids will have it better than you did. When polled in 2014, Americans said, ‘We no longer believe in the 12
American Dream. We don’t think it’s happening.’ And the economic evidence bears them out. That should have been a sign of a revolution in American politics. But the only person who picked up on that was Trump, and they elected him president. So I think the Republican Party has to take on mobility — economic intergenerational mobility — as a big theme, and specifically point out how it’s the Democrats who are holding people back with their immigration policies and their education policies and their regulatory policies. They have placed a boulder in front of the people who want to get ahead. So that
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should be an important element of what progressive agree there’s such a thing as global warming. I’m conservatism means. And it all goes back to Lincoln. something of a skeptic as to the subject of spending Teddy Roosevelt came to government as a reformer a vast amount of money to try to cure the problem. — an anti-corruption reformer. And, you know, At this particular point, you ask what’s to be done the GOP has given away the issue of corruption to today. Well, the big issue today is inflation. So big Democrats. And that’s just wrong. There are things government spending programs right now aren’t we should be doing. We should be taking up the issue going to be the answer. of corruption, specifically with respect to regulating lobbyist contributions to politicians and closing the RF: What about defense and foreign revolving door between K Street and Congress. Those policy. What is the progressive conservative should be Republican themes. view towards Ukraine and the importance of And then finally, like Ike, we have to make our peace American leadership abroad? with the welfare state and recognize, as Lincoln did, FB: You know, if there was a pro-Russian fellow in that we want equality the Trump campaign, of opportunity, not that would’ve been equality of results. me. I helped draft And the government Trump’s foreign has a role to play in policy speech in the achieving this goal. beginning of the The government has a campaign. I put in role in providing good, a line to the effect decent school choice, that I could see why for example. We’re on the Russians were the right side of that. troubled by the These are all themes expansion of NATO. that define progressive That line was taken A progressive conservative is someone conservatism. out. And what was substituted was a who is faithful to the leading statesmen RF: Let’s line that said, “They of the Republican Party — Eisenhower, talk about the say we can’t trust p r o g r e s s i v e the Russians to cut a Theodore Roosevelt, Lincoln. conservative vision deal. I intend to find on some of the out.” That’s what challenges facing America today. You mentioned Trump said. I think that’s, that’s what we should have school choice. To expand on that, where do done. progressive conservatives come down on the The tragedy of the idiotic Russian collusion issue of education? paranoia was it prevented anything like a deal with FB: Well, we’re in favor of good education. The the Russians. And clearly, a deal was the way to guy who really was an education president was Lincoln, solve the problem. Even now in Ukraine, even at who supported the land grant colleges through the this moment, we should be getting on the blower with Morrill Act, and who was not merely in favor of the Putin — as Macron does, as the Pope does — and try equality of opportunity, but who lived it himself, rising to craft a deal. I mean, you do peace deals with your from a hardscrabble farm to the presidency. What was enemies, not with your friends. Putin’s very much an really basic to Lincoln was the idea that all Americans adversary who we threw into the lap of the Chinese, — both white and black — should have the opportunity which is madness. to get ahead. And a good part of that is education. I don’t think we should be spending money Lincoln is the only president to hold a patent, and loved fighting a proxy war which gets Ukrainians killed. I the idea of education for farmers as a means by which think what we should be trying to do is craft a peace everybody can get ahead. treaty that would solve the problem. Indeed, the opportunity for such a deal even now I think exists RF: We’re in the middle of a heat wave right with Putin. That also, by the way, is what Henry now. What about climate change? Kissinger thinks. FB: Climate change is an issue on which I think one is permitted to be skeptical. I’ve read what Bjorn RF: Picking up on your earlier point about Lomborg has had to say in the Wall Street Journal. I corruption, you dedicate an entire chapter in RIPON FORUM August 2022
your book to draining the swamp, First, what is your definition of the swamp? Is it entrenched bureaucrats, entrenched special interests, or both? And how do you propose to go about doing it? FB: Well, I have some specific suggestions geared towards reining in the lobbyists and closing the revolving door between K Street and Congress. It’s been said that Congress is a farm team for K Street, right? People come here and they never leave — they just move down to K Street. Those are the kinds of issues that I think Republicans should take on.
that job for the Democrats. Instead, ask for people to speak to that which is for the common good of all Americans. And that historically has been what the Republicans have done as opposed to the Democrats.
RF: Let’s return to progressive conservatism and the politics of today. You wrote speeches for Donald Trump in 2016, yet write that you believe Republicans need to move beyond Trump in 2024. Why do you no longer support him? And what kind of candidate do you believe the party needs to get behind the next time around? FB: Well, I think he’s toxic for any number of reasons. RF: You write about January 6th, obviously, but the importance of having a even before that, he was a failed government that is “aligned to President by virtue of his inability the whole of the voters” and to know which levers to pull say “Republican Virtue” will when he was in office. He didn’t be required to reach that goal. have a sense as to the kinds of Could you talk about that for a people who should be appointed. moment? He surrounded himself with the FB: The idea of Republican most knavish of people. I hope Virtue is traced back to the that the January 6th hearings Founders in 1776. They thought persuade the American people that the revolution wouldn’t that the fellow should be toast. succeed unless it was supported by If they do that, what they’ll have Americans who had a disinterested done in the end is help the GOP desire to promote the common Frank Buckley more than the Democrats. good of Americans. Republican So yes, we have to say Virtue is also something I identify I think we have to goodbye to Trump. But I think with the West. I’m from the West. what we want to do at the same And so I buy into Frederick Jackson break away from that time is remember that this guy Turner’s story of the frontier as idea of dividing us up won in 2016, and he brought being crucial in American history by race or gender or to the party a whole bunch of and, and history as being a contest people who had never voted between the West — which is whatever — leave that Republican before. And we’re democratic, egalitarian, mobile, job for the Democrats. not going to win an election if and virtuous, as opposed to an we say goodbye to them. If we aristocratic and corrupt East. So Instead, ask for people to the old right wing party Republican Virtue thus means that to speak to that which is revert of Barry Goldwater, that’s not what is for the common good of all for the common good going to work. Americans let us support that. What we’ll need is a party The cynical view, which I of all Americans. that recognizes the limitation of associate with Madison, is that 60 years of libertarianism and of we’re also intrinsically corrupt and we can’t be trusted to promote Republican Virtue. being a party that was indifferent to issues like mobility We’re disinterested in virtue in any way, and the best and corruption. we can do is just have people bargain with one another. RF: I think the term you used in your book That’s called pluralism, and it’s an idea that traditionally was associated with the Democratic Party — a party of is that Republicans need a “happy warrior” in coalitions. The notion is that everybody is bargaining 2024… FB: Which is to say I rather like Ike. We need a at the table. Everybody will be well taken care of. And smiling person who doesn’t communicate a sense of that obviously didn’t happen. I think we have to break away from that idea of hostility. And that’s certainly not Trump. It’s more dividing us up by race or gender or whatever — leave like Ike. RF 14
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FAKE NEWS & THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT Should Washington Step In or Step Aside? by Elisabeth Braw
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The United States has mid-term elections social media. China dominates the world’s crucial rarecoming up — and these days, that means the certain earth processing, using large volumes of imports from prospect of enormous volumes of misinformation and African mines. disinformation. But the virus-like spread of falsehoods Businesses, meanwhile, are already acutely aware doesn’t just plague political elections. of the power of misinformation and disinformation; Today, misinformation and its malicious sibling, indeed, some companies already harm competitors disinformation, permeate U.S. society so thoroughly by using the “disinformation-as-a-service” packages that citizens have no way of knowing which information offered by a host of shady outfits. PWC reports that is accurate. Someone needs to clean up the information disinformation-as-a-service providers charge “$15environment, or otherwise U.S. society will fragment $45 to create a 1,000-character article; $65 to contact as different groups believe different sources of a media source directly to spread material; $100 for information. The federal government can play a role 10 comments to post on a given article or news story; as an impartial observer – but $350-$550 per month for social the most important role lies in media marketing; and $1,500 educating and thus empowering for search engine optimization citizens. services to promote social Early on in Russia’s media posts and articles over war against Ukraine, reports a 10- to 15-day period.” Such emerged about cats trained by disinformation can cause the Ukrainian armed forces to real harm to companies, as spot Russian snipers. One cat negative news can prompt a in particular, nicknamed the share sell-off. Even if the share Tiger of Kharkiv, was said to be price subsequently recovers, particularly skilled. Countless recurring bouts of bad publicity people kept sharing tales about can cause long-term harm the felines’ pursuits, and in to a company’s image and no time the tales had traveled thus value. As a result, many around the world. These stories businesses are now investing proved to be false. more money in the monitoring Elisabeth Braw A couple of months later, of news — but they clearly can’t an odd comment by a Reddit prevent the creation and sharing user, who claimed to once have of falsehoods. Because public discourse visited Swedish friends and not Indeed, perhaps because based on falsehoods and been fed dinner at their house, most people think it doesn’t went viral on Twitter, morphing matter if they happen to see or inaccuracies risks making into an avalanche of users who read unverified information, democracies ungovernable, the spread of misinformation claimed that Swedes were racist. tackling the falsehoodThere has been no study that and disinformation continues shows Swedes don’t feed their despite fast-increasing epidemic is imperative. guests dinner – but that did not awareness of the harm they prevent the anger storm from can cause. Citizen ineptitude spreading and causing reputational harm to the country. is aided by commercial fake-engagement services The so-called Swedengate also made other countries that help falsehoods go viral. “Of the 114,061 – and individuals – realize how vulnerable they are fake engagements purchased, more than 96 percent to campaigns against them based on misinformation remained online and active after four weeks. To (accidental falsehoods), disinformation (intentional date, none of the platforms’ actions have materially falsehoods), or a combination of the two. And as changed the functioning of the manipulation industry,” Americans discovered in the 2016 election campaign, NATO’s Stratcom Center of Excellence notes in an at the very least, geopolitical rivals are cunning in April 2022 report. spreading falsehoods to weaken Western societies. In Because public discourse based on falsehoods and a recent iteration of such malign-influence campaigns, inaccuracies risks making democracies ungovernable, pro-Chinese agents have been trying to stir up protests tackling the falsehood-epidemic is imperative. Socialagainst a new U.S. rare-earth processing company media companies, though, are wholly unwilling and planned rare-earth mines in the United States and to fundamentally attack the problem –- because Canada by posing as concerned local residents on falsehoods are 70 percent more likely to be shared on RIPON FORUM August 2022
social networks, and social-media companies make Department already tasked with countering foreigntheir money on traffic. That means the epidemic has to led disinformation, could easily be expanded and given be tackled as it is spreading. Yes, that means a role for power to coordinate U.S. Government responses in the the government — but mostly for citizens. same manner as the MPF. The role the government should play is not the U.S. states also have a role in stemming foreign one envisioned for the Disinformation Governance disinformation. Connecticut is taking the lead. Hartford Board launched by the U.S. Department of Homeland plans to appoint a civil servant to monitor and debunk Security this spring. At the board’s launch, U.S. media disinformation about logistical aspects of state reported that it would focus on issues as diverse as elections such as the location and opening hours of migration and Russia, but the board’s function and polling stations. The official will, however, not monitor competencies remained unclear. By appointing a think or flag any falsehoods in the political debate. Colorado, tanker with expressed political leanings rather than a meanwhile, is trying to teach its residents to be careful respected disinformation expert from the civil service, with what they share and encourages them, for example, the government further to read a graphic novel undermined its own on disinformation efforts. To nobody’s published by CISA. surprise, the board was The Kansas City swiftly suspended. Library, in turn, teaches A much better idea locals news and media would be for the U.S. literacy. Government to learn Such informationfrom Sweden’s new literacy education Psychological Defense should complement the Agency (MPF), whose federal government’s very specific mission is monitoring of foreign to monitor and counter disinformation. foreign malignCitizens able to verify influence campaigns information will take and build citizen the sting out of most Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Chinese President Xi resilience against misinformation and Jinping pose during their meeting in Beijing, on Feb. 4, 2022. misinformation and disinformation — but disinformation. That they need to be taught means that the MPF how. States can develop Because governments of liberal doesn’t insert itself into curricula and training the domestic debate, materials that counties democracies would enter treacherous but instead works can use in their school waters if they tried to regulate the to keep the country systems and — to reach safe from external public discourse, any U.S. government adults — in libraries. threats while helping can even offer it intervention into the information flow They citizens become more to employers. has to be limited to falsehoods spread information-literate. Everyone has Since its inception opinions, but nobody by foreign governments. earlier this year, the would want to MPF has, for example, consume falsehoods identified an ISIS-linked disinformation campaign out of ignorance. Countering misinformation and alleging that Swedish social services kidnap Muslim disinformation involves not just the federal government children and coordinated the government’s debunking but every part of society. RF of it. It has also launched the information-literacy website Bli inte lurad (“Don’t be fooled”). Elisabeth Braw is a senior fellow at the American Indeed, because governments of liberal democracies Enterprise Institute , where she focuses on defense against would enter treacherous waters if they tried to regulate emerging national security challenges, such as hybrid and the public discourse, any U.S. government intervention gray-zone threats. She is the author of The Defender’s into the information flow has to be limited to Dilemma: Identifying and Deterring Gray-Zone Aggression falsehoods spread by foreign governments. The Global (AEI Press, 2022) and God’s Spies: The Stasi’s Cold War Engagement Center, a small unit within the State Espionage Campaign Inside the Church (Eerdmans, 2019). 18
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Where Bipartisan Opportunities Exist for Tech Reform by TOM ROMANOFF Big Tech is still in the crosshairs of Republicans and years exemptions have been added or proposed to Democrats, but there is little consensus on regulating hold websites more accountable for harms stemming the industry. On the one side, there is agreement from their content. Democrats, in this scenario, will that American tech is a world leader and one of our likely continue to press Big Tech through competition most vital industries. On the other hand, concerns and anti-trust policy but will seek to do so through the federal agency authorities. have been expressed about Big With Special Assistant to the Tech’s size and influence. As President Tim Wu, and Chair of technology continues to play the FTC Lina Khan leading an an increasingly dominant role activist regulatory agenda, at a in how we connect at work and minimum, we can expect to see home, we must get it right. more from the DOJ, FTC, and While Congress debates CFPB around regulating the partisan tech agendas, the EU tech sector. is passing laws that put them in Shifting back to the driver’s seat of data privacy opportunities for bipartisan and how our tech companies solutions, let’s start with the operate abroad. Russia and most difficult – Enhancing China continue to use cyberData Privacy. Congress has attacks to gain insights into spent the last six sessions classified and sensitive Tom Romanoff trying to pass a national data information while influencing privacy law. Many believe, political debates worldwide. including me, that this is the Bipartisan, pragmatic solutions Bipartisan, pragmatic root of techlash and that many are needed to keep American other legislative proposals tech innovative and robust. solutions are needed would benefit from applying Specifically, three strategies to keep American tech federal law. The American have broad support to advance innovative and robust. Data Privacy and Protection this goal: Enhancing Data Act is the latest bipartisan Privacy, Securing Cyberspace, proposal that provides a new and Funding Innovation. Before diving into those strategies, let’s look starting place for future considerations. With China at the probable next steps: Republicans will likely and the European Union passing their data governance take the House next year and have been vocal about laws and U.S. states increasingly passing their own, their interest in investigating perceived bias against data privacy is increasingly dependent on the location conservative speech online. Few Democrats share of access. This could lead to excessive compliance this priority and have instead opted to introduce costs, stalled innovation, and loss of opportunity for proposals in the 117th Congress around anti-trust and American citizens. Cybersecurity is another strategy where we have competition issues in the tech sector. If there is an opportunity for bipartisan legislation around curbing seen strong bipartisan support and success in passing bias and misinformation online, it is in reforming legislation to bolster the U.S. digital infrastructure. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Cyber threats are a clear and persistent danger to either by adding carve-outs to the existing language Americans and must be addressed as soon as possible. or passing new laws to address issues that stem from Congress has several initiatives with bipartisan misinformation online. Section 230 provides liability support that it can prioritize moving forward. These protection for platforms hosting content, but in recent include digital identification measures to fight online RIPON FORUM August 2022
fraud, supporting workforce development to train the can build these systems is at risk. USICA attempts to next generation of cybersecurity professionals, and address this issue, but there is still a need to secure the securing our digital supply chain. materials, expertise, and capacity to build the systems The last strategy is funding innovation for the next for the next generation of tech. Bipartisan lawmakers generation of American tech should continue to prioritize leadership. Many of the these areas as a matter of Cybersecurity is another technologies we enjoy today national security. strategy where we have seen started in a government Technology will research lab. We can point continue to be more strong bipartisan support and to the Internet, the green integrated into our lives. success in passing legislation revolution, and others as Congress should prioritize to bolster the U.S. digital clear examples that show the areas mentioned in this government investment in piece to safeguard future infrastructure. tech has yielded positive iterations of tech. If we returns. We know that the don’t, we risk yielding next leap in tech is right around the corner. Quantum leadership to foreign competitors and stalling computing, AI, 6G, high-capacity batteries, and beyond innovation at home. RF are research areas that will fuel American innovation in the future. While these new technology areas are Tom Romanoff is the Director of the Technology promising, the support network needed to ensure we Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
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Protecting Our Kids in the Age of Social Media by DIANA GRABER The iPhone just turned 15. In human years it’s a mere few notches last year when Facebook whistleblower Frances teenager, and much like a teenager, it has completely disrupted Haugen leaked internal documents that showed Facebook knew life as we knew it. its products, specifically Instagram, could cause harm, including In the decade and a half since the arrival of the iPhone, negatively impacting the mental health of teens. and all the other connected devices that proceeded it by just a But, this too, is not the complete story. According to few years, a whole generation has entered adulthood. These Facebook (now Meta), on eleven of twelve well-being issues guinea pigs of the connected age experienced an adolescence they researched, teenage girls who said they struggled with completely unlike any generation before them. They socialized difficult issues also said that Instagram made them feel better online, where their conversations rather than worse. were asynchronous and devoid of Therein lies the rub. Viewing social cues. Everything they posted social media as harmful overlooks got saved for posterity, for everyone how helpful it can be too. It also to see. Algorithms determined what ignores the fact that every teen is they consumed, and their social status different and how and what they use was quantified by likes, friend, and social media for varies significantly – follower counts. Many felt pressured as does the agency they exert over it. to be “on” 24/7. For example, at one extreme What impact did this “new end of the spectrum there’s the adolescence” have upon the wellbeing eighteen-year-old gunman accused of of today’s young adults? And, more killing eighteen people at a Buffalo importantly, what about the current supermarket. He was reportedly crop of kids enjoying new apps with “radicalized by consuming whiteDiana Graber even stealthier algorithms (looking at supremist content online” while you TikTok)? Well, that’s the millionalone and bored during the pandemic, Researchers have been dollar question. gravitating from outdoor and gun Currently there is a mental health hunting for a direct forums to the white-supremacist sites crisis amongst America’s youth which that inspired his rampage. At the other correlation between many place squarely on the shoulders end of the spectrum, you’ll find TikTok depression and social of technology in general, and social influencer Abbey Richards whose media in particular. It’s an easy enough media use for years, viral videos about misinformation correlation to make. According to the educate viewers (mostly kids) about with mixed results. CDC, the share of American high this important topic, a job adults have school students who “experienced largely dropped the ball on. persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rose from 26 to Still, one youth harmed by social media is one too many. 44 percent between 2009 and 2019. This increase neatly parallels And it’s abundantly clear that some changes must be made to a similar rise in their screen time and social media use. safeguard the wellbeing of future generations. But blaming social media for teen depression is reductive, Over 100 bills have been introduced by state legislatures and somewhat unfair. Researchers have been hunting for a direct in just the past year aimed at regulating tech companies. For correlation between depression and social media use for years, example, in my state, California, Assembly Bill 2408, the with mixed results. Dr. Jeff Hancock, a behavioral psychologist Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, would make social media at Stanford University who has conducted a meta-analysis of companies liable for damages of up to $250,000 per violation 226 such studies, recently told The New York Times, “There’s for using features they know can cause children to become been absolutely hundreds of studies, almost all showing pretty “addicted” (my quotes). Many other states are working to pass small effects.” similar legislation. But, according to Politico, in the last year Still, concern remains. This concern got ratcheted up a “only three bills have become law.” RIPON FORUM August 2022
Meanwhile, young people are moving away from the mega the literacy of their day (“digital literacy”) and arm them with the apps many of these bills are aimed at. And who knows where agency to keep themselves safe from the potential harms of social the next generation will flock to? Besides, kids are notoriously media? Online misinformation, disinformation, clickbait, deepfakes, expert at evading restrictions on the things they love, like social media. Case in point, millions of children lie about infinite scrolling, disturbing and graphic content, cyberbullying, their age in order to sign up for apps they are too young for, and more are not going away any time soon and no law will protect kids from all these things. thereby circumventing COPPA But youth armed with digital (the Children’s Online Privacy Why not teach kids the literacy literacy skills will be less likely Protection Act), a law designed of their day (“digital literacy”) to believe information designed to protect their personal information. and arm them with the agency to to mislead, fall into rabbit holes created by algorithms, be tricked As we await new bills to keep themselves safe from the by clickbait or seduced by become laws that may or may potential harms of social media? persuasive technology, and they not effectively protect kids, or for will know what to do when they social media platforms (private encounter cruelty online. companies) to voluntarily So rather than wringing our hands over all the perceived change the business practices that make them profitable to their shareholders, another entire generation is approaching adulthood. societal ills caused by social media, or funding yet another study that finds the link between technology use and wellbeing is as We can’t afford to wait. There’s a better, more logical, effective, and immediate strong as eating potatoes, let’s consider a solution that might actually work, and that will make kids our active allies in their solution to keeping kids safe online. Education. Every US student is taught traditional “literacy” (how to read own protection. RF and write), but what this usually overlooks is where they actually Graber is the Founder of Cyber Civics & Cyberwise, “read” (online), how they “write” (they post), and theBLEED: nature 7.625" of Diana W TRIM: 7.375” W author of Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids the platforms where they do both (public spaces where everything 6.875”Build W a Healthy Relationship with Technology (Harper Collins is permanent, algorithms decide what they see, andSAFETY: persuasive technologies aim at keeping them “hooked”). Why not teach kids Leadership,’19.)
TRIM: 4.875 in” H SAFETY: 4.375 ” H
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“Social Media Platforms: Public Square or Private Property?”
The First Amendment Protects Freedom of Speech, Not Your Right To Someone Else’s Megaphone by ADAM KOVACEVICH When it comes to speech, the internet is more like the speech of private individuals acting in private a grocery store than like Main Street—and it’s in our run squarely up against the Constitution. Indeed, two collective interest to keep it that way. recent attempts to regulate speech in this way from No one has a constitutional right to march up and Florida and Texas failed spectacularly. down Harris Teeter’s produce When someone—whether a aisle yelling racial slurs or former president or an average harassing customers, just as citizen—claims their or another no one has a constitutional individual’s “First Amendment” right to be on Twitter doing rights to speech on any online the same thing. Why? The First platform are being limited, Amendment protects us from they’re mistaking their right to the government impinging on say something with their right our speech rights, but it doesn’t to say it on someone else’s give us the right to say anything, platform. anywhere we want. Often, they’re decrying the America has a robust removal of “lawful, but awful” free speech tradition that we speech—misinformation, should celebrate. Crucially, it’s spam, and threats that fall a speech tradition that stops short of a crime. And this is short of limiting others’ speech exactly the kind of speech that in private spaces. While the most people want platforms Adam Kovacevich government cannot limit your to moderate. Imagine a world speech rights (beyond limiting where Alex Jones has a right illegal speech), plenty of private to post his false claims that While the government services and organizations can the Sandy Hook shooting and do. Apartment buildings never happened and to harass cannot limit your speech have as much a right to post a grieving parents on Instagram. rights (beyond limiting “no soliciting” sign as online Or imagine if Arizona Rep. platforms do to enforce strict Paul Gosar was able to falsely illegal speech), plenty of policies against misinformation, accuse a trans woman of being private services and spam, or calls for violence. a school shooter on Twitter organizations can and do. This tradition has been with impunity. upheld time and time again by While this speech may be the courts. For example, in a constitutional, it’s despicable. majority opinion from 2018, Justice Kavanaugh wrote No service should be obligated to carry it. “when a private entity provides a forum for speech, the It’s not as if there aren’t spaces that would be happy private entity is not ordinarily constrained by the First to carry Jones or Gosar’s vitriol. A host of platforms Amendment because the private entity is not a state have cropped up in recent years that boast lax content actor. The private entity may thus exercise editorial moderation standards, including social media sites discretion over the speech and speakers in the forum.” and message boards, not to mention offline options. As this opinion (and, notably, the minority opinion Constitutionality aside, it’s also important to in the same case) makes clear, attempts to regulate (cont’d on page 26) 24
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“Social Media Platforms: Public Square or Private Property?”
To Protect Free Speech, Social Media Platforms Must Stop their Overreach by DAVID KEATING Assaults on the culture of free speech grow by the threatens to stifle important debates about unsettled day. Unfortunately, much of the assault is coming from issues. In fact, this has already happened. the major social media platforms. Early in the pandemic, Facebook and YouTube The power of our democracy and the genius censored claims that the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated of our First Amendment is from a lab leak in China, a our recognition that no single theory that remains plausible authority can dictate what is true. to this day. And, of course, We work out our disagreements Twitter and Facebook restricted through speech, publishing, and the New York Post’s reporting organizing into groups. about emails on Hunter Biden’s For centuries, reaching laptop in the leadup to the others with our views was 2020 election, claiming they difficult work, and in many were the product of foreign respects it still is. But thanks to misinformation. After the social media, most Americans election, the emails proved to can publish anything and be authentic. theoretically reach millions of Many Democrats have fellow citizens and even much of encouraged this trend towards the world. censorship. Recall that thenAs noted by the U.S. Supreme White House Press Secretary Court, social media platforms Jen Psaki urged “faster action David Keating “for many are the principal against harmful posts” and sources for … speaking and suspension of accounts across listening in the modern public all platforms. The Biden square,” where Americans share Throughout history, free Administration created the vital information and express so-called “Disinformation speech and open debate their opinions. Governance Board” before have been society’s best Social media allowed disbanding it in response to more Americans to engage in tools for discovering the public outrage. public speech than ever before, Many Republicans say truth and managing our but like past revolutions in they oppose censorship but disagreements. communications technology, want to repeal Section 230, it also triggered a backlash. which immunizes social media Politicians, media outlets, or companies from liability for activists increasingly pressure posts by users. That would companies to censor speech they deem false or likely result in even more censorship from platforms misleading, or simply oppose. Lately, much of this eager to avoid costly litigation. It would also make it speech concerns issues related to elections and the effectively impossible for new social media companies COVID-19 pandemic. to take down the incumbents. Certainly, you can find false claims about both What to do? topics online (and off) with ease. Yet the platforms’ Let’s stipulate that there are no easy answers. But judgments are far from infallible, and their heavy hand (cont’d on next page) RIPON FORUM August 2022
We also need more information on how the platforms (Keating, cont’d) many of the actions taken now pose real threats to free use algorithms to promote and suppress content. Right speech while doing little to stop misinformation and now, all we get are random information dumps from may enable more of it. whistleblowers. If no one knows how social media’s Some of the wealthiest corporations in the world black box algorithms are working and failing, how can operate social media sites, we come up with sensible and their mission is to government policies? The power of our democracy maximize profits. Getting Ultimately, the solution and the genius of our First on the wrong side of must come from the platforms government officials is bad Amendment is our recognition themselves. They should for business. This creates return to the more speechthat no single authority can terrible incentives for the friendly mindset embraced dictate what is true. platforms to censor based before 2016. Taking on on the views of the party in the role of a private sector power. “Ministry of Truth” has been Politicians who attempt to influence platforms’ a disaster for their reputations with no clear benefit to the speech policies are a menace to free speech. Platforms public. And it is especially dangerous given the threats should focus on empowering their users, not their wielded by government officials against the platforms. critics or the government, to control what content they Throughout history, free speech and open debate see. have been society’s best tools for discovering the truth The government has a role to play in protecting and managing our disagreements. The technology that free speech on the internet. We can create ethics laws we use to express ourselves has changed many times, and rules preventing government officials from using from the printing press to the telegraph to radio and threats against platforms to get them to censor. And television and now, to social media. The underlying we should consider creating a legal defense against principles of the First Amendment will always stand the government enforcement actions against social media test of time. RF platforms if the government initiates action based on its interest in retaliating against a platform’s refusal to David Keating is the president of the Institute for Free censor or silence itself or its users. Speech in Washington, DC.
theories. The same should hold true for online (Kovacevish, cont’d) note that a “must-carry” requirement would create a platforms. In the U.S., we’re afforded freedom of speech, but fundamentally worse experience online for everyone not freedom of reach. No one is and a terrible coarsening guaranteed a megaphone. And of our national discourse. In the U.S., we’re afforded that holds especially true in The First Amendment is private places. Fundamentally simply a poor standard for freedom of speech, but not reversing the tenets of the First what should or shouldn’t freedom of reach. No one is Amendment exclusively for be allowed on any given guaranteed a megaphone. online speech would flood the service. In many cases, hate national conversation with hate, speech, misinformation, and conspiracy, and spam. RF spam are all legal speech. Our country and our national conversation would be unequivocally worse if shop owners couldn’t eject Adam Kovacevich is the Founder and CEO of a customer for spouting racism or QAnon conspiracy Chamber of Progress.
“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ 26
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Whip Scalise Examines the Political Landscape Heading into the Mid-Terms WASHINGTON, DC – In remarks in the Green New Deal, we’re Democrat incumbent doesn’t want on July 14th before a breakfast going to have decades more where him to. Because people don’t like meeting of The Ripon Society, House we still need fossil fuels to run an the policies. It’s hurting low-income Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA- industrialized economy.” families. All these policies have a 1) assessed the national political According to Whip Scalise, real impact on people and folks are landscape heading into the mid-term the precarious nature of the U.S. seeing it.” elections and shared his thoughts on economy and the seemingly out-ofWhip Scalise further noted some of the most pressing challenges touch proposals from the Left has that the House GOP established a facing the American people this year. resulted in many voters balking at number of task forces last year for “There’s a lot of the purpose of creating energy out there,” Whip a thoughtful Republican Scalise stated. “When platform for candidates you go around to these to campaign on this fall. swing districts that The task forces include: are ‘50-50’, and today Jobs and the Economy; we’ve got about forty Big Tech Censorship to sixty of them, you and Data; Future of see what people care American Freedoms; about. As we saw a Energy, Climate, and few days ago, inflation Conservation; American is up to 9.1% — fortySecurity; Healthy year high inflation. Future; and, China People feel this when Accountability they go to the grocery “We’ve been store. When families working for months try to buy some of the now,” he said of the ingredients for the “People understand what the problems effort to lay out a positive breakfast table, they’re Republican agenda. are – you don’t have to sell them on the paying a double-digit “We put together these idea that the country’s on the wrong higher cost for all of task forces and have sat that. When they’re down to come up with track.” going to the gas station better policies to fix Whip Steve Scalise these problems. We’re to fill up their car, Remarks to The Ripon Society going to roll this out this they’re paying more than double what they July 14, 2022 summer, and it will be were paying two years called the Commitment ago. It gets people to America… People angry, and it should get people angry the thought of Democrats retaining understand what the problems are because this isn’t the seventies.” their majority in Washington. – you don’t have to sell them on “But up here, you’ve got people “I was in Bangor, Maine two the idea that the country’s on the running Washington that have said weeks ago and was in Scranton, wrong track. What they’re looking publicly that they want higher gas Pennsylvania on Monday,” he for, and what people are hungrier prices. They want higher energy noted. “Y’all remember Scranton, for now more than ever, are sound, costs. They want people to just stop right? Joe Biden’s hometown. His honest ideas about how to fix these using fossil fuels. That is not in line popularity is 35% in his hometown. problems. That’s what we’re going with how people live their lives He won’t even go campaign for the to be talking about between now and today. Anybody who’s honest with Democrat incumbent. Not because November 8th.” RF you will tell you, even if they believe he doesn’t want to. But because the RIPON FORUM August 2022
Name: Stephanie Bice
Occupation: Freshman member of the 117th Congress and Representative for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, which includes the Oklahoma City metro area. Elected by my peers to serve as the first female Freshman GOP Class President. Previous positions held: Served 6 years in the Oklahoma State Senate, including Chairman of the Finance Committee, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation & General Government, Vice Chair of Business & Commerce, and Assistant Majority Floor Leader Individual(s) who inspired me as a child: My grandfather. Harold Dean VanHooser, whose Navy nickname was “Scooter”, loved to travel, made sure I knew God, and had a great sense of humor. As the oldest grandchild, I had a special bond with him — he was loving, kind, and lived life to the fullest. Issue facing America that is not getting enough attention: Mental health for children. I am concerned about the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on our youth. With so much isolation, particularly for kids, during the first 18 months of the pandemic, I fear we are headed for a mental health crisis in this country that we are not preparing for. Growing mental health services for children in schools, training for future mental health professionals and funding for treatment programs will be imperative as we try to tackle the growing number of children who are experiencing mental health challenges. Challenge facing your District you are working hard to address: The energy industry accounts for almost 25% of all state revenues for Oklahoma, but the current administration has an antifossil fuel position which is affecting companies large and small across my state. Whether it is cancelling pipeline expansion projects, revoking lease permits, or enacting anti-fossil fuel environmental policies, Biden is more focused on punishing the industry than trying to find ways to work together to address today’s energy needs by utilizing an all-of-the-above energy approach. Oklahoma is the third largest producer of natural gas and fourth largest of oil in the country and we know how to produce clean, affordable energy, which will lower prices at the pump and at the grocery store. Finish this sentence: “If I could change one thing about American politics, it would be…” The distrust the public has of politicians. Although you may not agree with a particular member’s political ideology, most elected officials I have encountered over the years have a genuine desire to serve their communities with honesty and integrity. It is fascinating to me that in today’s modern era, Americans have more transparency of government than any time in our nation’s history, but they are more distrusting of government than ever before. I hope to find ways to restore confidence and faith of our elected leaders. 28
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