How the Government Manipulates American Citizens

Photo: Reading the Declaration of Independence by John Nixon, from the steps of Independence Hall, Philadelphia, July 8, 1776 – drawn by E.A. Abbey. LCCN95501786, public domain

Before the war for independence in the 18th century, our founding fathers would meet in person in coffee houses and the public square to discuss the ideas that spawned our country. This is why we have the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights. The free discussion of ideas in search of truth is crucial for free and fair governance. 

Free speech is now in danger. The privatization of the internet in the 1990’s created a new public square, where new groups could share thoughts and ideas from far distances. The State Department, Pentagon, and CIA recognized that the internet could provide a means for free speech for people in hostile countries. The American Security state therefore promoted free speech on the internet so dissident groups in other countries could organize and overthrow regimes that the U.S. saw as hostile. 

Mike Benz, executive director of the Foundation for Freedom Online, said that the security state created technology like the VPN and TOR to help “overthrow governments that were causing a problem to the Clinton administration or the Bush administration.” The Pentagon was a happy champion of free speech until 2014, when non-Western powers also realized that free speech online was a tool for regime change. Specifically, Russia’s annexation of Crimea was seen as a negative use of internet speech. 

Therefore, the security state developed tools to limit alleged misinformation online and gave it to social media platforms. In the wake of COVID-19 and the use of mail-in ballots, the national security state went full force in limiting free speech online. Now, in America, the government manipulates public opinion to combat what they see as harmful and dissident ideas. They purportedly do this to protect democracy, but in doing so they undermine democracy. There cannot be a true expression of public opinion in the democratic process if public opinion is manipulated and controlled by the national security state. 

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