Taking back American opinion
By Bill Connor
In the decades before the start of the American Revolution, Americans had been developing unique political and philosophical ideals. Of particular note, the first “Great Awakening” in the middle of the 18th century formed a strong uniquely American Christian identity. The 17th century British philosopher John Locke heavily influenced the educated class of Americans in the 1760s to the war. Locke wrote about the “natural rights” of men, with government viewed solely as protector of those rights and equality under the law. These beliefs came into conflict with arbitrary actions of Parliament and monarchy, sparking the Revolution. The idea of the “American People” as the ultimate authority for government confirmed respect for the beliefs and opinions of individuals. We must take this ideal back from what’s become of American opinion under big tech and mainstream media. Let me explain.
Until recent decades, American citizens were most heavily influenced by family, community and church. The prevailing Christian ethos allowed for a common value system independent of government or business. Alexis de Tocqueville said of America in the 1830s: “There is no country on earth in which the Christian religion has greater sway over the souls of men than in America.” Self-reliance was required in America and as a result, men developed strong, independent opinions.
Americans generally lionized the modest man from middle-American rural life, coming to make a difference in Washington. The example of Davy Crockett coming to Washington in buckskin from backwoods Tennessee is one example and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” was another.
American leaders in politics and business sought to ascertain and act on American opinion. President McKinley went to war with Spain after it was assumed to have blown up the USS Maine, causing outrage among citizens. Polling, whether for political or business issues, was solely a search for American opinion. Media generally respected what polls told them about the views and opinions of the American people. Fact reporting about American opinion was based on solid objective polling.
As historian Victor David Hansen has written, “a republic like America relies on its good-faith watchdogs, such as honest pollsters, the media and bipartisan institutions.” Hansen went on to decry the current lack of professionalism of those “good faith watchdog” organizations. He described the increasing power of cultural influences like pollsters, media and now big tech to form opinion versus reporting the opinion.
We see the dynamic described by Hansen most starkly with the recent presidential election. In the lead up to the 2020 election, every anonymously sourced negative story against Trump went viral throughout mainstream media. Conversely, even evidence-based and corroborated negative stories about Joe Biden, like the Hunter Biden email scandal, were squelched by the media. More disturbing, big tech companies like Twitter and Facebook restricted stories like the Hunter Biden email story from their platforms in blatant censorship.
Despite the embarrassment of the faulty polls in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2016, most mainstream pre-election polls predicted that Biden would destroy Trump in a landslide. “A CNN poll had Trump down 12 percentage points nationally entering the final week before the election. An ABC News/Washington Post poll in late October claimed Biden was leading in Wisconsin by 17 points. That state’s voting ended up nearly even. YouGov’s election model showed Biden prevailing with a landslide win in the Electoral College. Progressive statistics guru Nate Silver had for weeks issued pseudo-scientific analyses of a Trump wipeout.” (Hansen). According to research psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein, Google SEO bias (and election reminders solely to Democrats) cost Trump at least six million votes.
America’s “good faith watchdogs” seemingly do not care about the actual will of the American people, but believe American opinion can be formed to their will. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, with most Americans going “virtual,” big tech and media gained even more influence over America. Through the power of repetitive messaging to a captive audience, media and big tech can attempt virtual brainwashing. This can be seen in the messaging about any irregularities associated with the 2020 election. Any questioning of the problems with the election is deemed an attack on Democracy and an attempt to steal the election. Big tech and media have the monopoly on this and other opinions.
It is time Americans take back their opinions from media and big tech. As Patrick Henry said when voting in favor of joining the American Revolution: “Give me Liberty, or Give me Death.” Our liberty must again become paramount, as we retake the will and opinion of ourselves, the American people.
Bill Connor is a 1990 Citadel graduate, 30-year Army infantry colonel and combat veteran. He is a writer and attorney and lives in the Charleston area.