America is famous the world over for being the freest democracy on earth. The United States earned this well-deserved reputation by virtue of its progressive multiculturalism as well as the constant, thoughtful engagement of its citizenry in public life. Today I would like to talk to you about this latter aspect, which is so crucial to the functioning of our democracy.
Free speech has been the backbone of the American democratic process since its inception. Only through an open public debate has our citizenry been able to educate itself for its highest moral calling: going to the ballot box. Initially voting (and its corresponding political discourse) was restricted only to property-owning men, but over the years voting and free speech have been opened to all races, genders and socio-economic classes. Only by opening up our political discourse to these disenfranchised groups has our government received both the necessary wisdom-of-the-oppressed as well as the moral authority it needs to construct one of the most beneficial and efficient welfare states the world has ever seen. Today, however, this discourse -and the free-speech that supports it- is under threat.
Libertarians and conservatives are threatening to undo decades of social progress that has given a voice to minorities as well as liberated Americans through greater equality. From crazy libertarians like Ron and Rand Paul who advocate an end to the forcible liberation of disenfranchised races in their home-countries from dictators like Assad and Kim Jong-un, to wing-nut Tea Partiers who selfishly want to keep the money they would otherwise pay in the taxes that fund our vital social welfare programs, to religious wing-nuts who believe it’s the right of religious leaders not to marry homosexual couples in their churches, synagogues and mosques: the rights of disempowered minorities –and with it, their ability to be heard in our public debate- are being threatened with extinction. How can racial minorities feel like they can speak freely in America if they can’t even do so in their home countries? How can the poor afford to have as loud a voice as the rich in our public discourse if the welfare-state doesn’t re-distribute our nations vast riches more equitably? How can disempowered genders feel like they’re being heard if the government doesn’t force our acceptance of them into our private lives and institutions? To these questions conservatives and libertarians reply only with meaningless buzz words like “constitutional”, racist comments, and arguments that are completely out of touch with the 99%.
For these problems I have a modest, progressive solution.
We should begin by shutting down harmful reactionary institutions like Fox News and the Washington Post as well as fringe blogs that air opinions that threaten the egalitarian multicultural basis of our society. This step would free the average citizen of the vicious onslaught of divergent opinions that might prevent them from making rational, free decisions when fulfilling their civic duties. Secondly, we should allow only government-accredited institutions -as well as individuals with the proper credentials- deliver the news. Certain sources such as the Accredited Times, New York Times and NPR would surly be accepted. Other sources which do not meet our government’s highest standards for promoting free speech, multiculturalism and equality would not be allowed to publish. Finally, in order to vote, all citizens should have to undergo a test that would require each individual to show that they respect other cultures and have a working understanding of Keynesian economics.
If not already common sense, these propositions would almost certainly be immediately accepted by the vast majority of Americans if they were proposed by a reputable politician. These policy changes would pave the way for new generations of progressive citizens who accept all races, genders and socio-economic classes. They would protect our freedoms as well as ensure that our future is more free, more equal, and more multicultural than ever before.