By Mark Bauer
The debate around Elon Musk’s attempted takeover of Twitter is more of what you might expect in a hyper-polarized and partisan society.
On the one hand, you have voices on the Left fearful that Musk’s emphasis on free speech would open the floodgates to all sorts of hate speech and abusive vile on Twitter (more than there already is). Worse, there is a real concern about social media sentiments overflowing into real life.
On the other hand, free speech proponents like Musk argue that Twitter is a modern equivalent to a public square, and as such moderating conduct on the platform is tantamount to suppression, especially when that misconduct overlaps with political speech. Whoever controls the moderation policies, then, has a huge leg up in the political arena.
Lost in all the noise between the two sides is, of course, the moderate middle. I’ll show my cards here and divulge that I’m an Independent who leans Right of center, and I think there are valid points on both sides. I am disheartened at how much political discourse has devolved over the past 10 years and how often hateful language is targeted at women and minorities on Twitter. Simultaneously, I am concerned about who gets to determine what voices get let in or left out of political dialogue.
What most concerns me however is the likelihood of Musk reinstating Trump on the social media platform. Even the most spirited proponent of free speech should be able to make the case that Trump was actually dangerous on Twitter. People died on January 6 when he used the social media platform to incite violence.
It will be difficult to walk that line though between the two extremes. There’s a lot of daylight between Trump’s inciting an insurrection and banning people for maintaining the wrong ideas on gender, for example. Trying to draw those lines now, however, after both sides have dug in their heels will be a gargantuan task. It requires the Left to admit they may have gone too far in their policing of speech on Twitter, and it requires the Right to admit they have supported and condoned speech that has caused actual harm.
Which side do you believe is the most likely to capitulate? Likely neither because our political system does not reward such pragmatic peacemaking. Instead, we’re left in a state of political paralysis where we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.
If you’re interested in getting off this crazy train, consider supporting electoral reforms like ranked choice voting that will help break this political deadlock and help give voice to the growing ranks of the moderate middle.
Mark Bauer is a producer, entrepreneur, day trader and former Independent candidate for Congress in Texas. Previously he spent 10 years as a legal journalist covering the legal market in Texas and regulatory issues in Washington DC.
Mark’s primary interests involve using content and storytelling to help different groups of people better understand one another.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rank the Vote, its members, supporters, funders, or affiliates.