I was invited to speak today at the monthly meeting of the Yakima County Women's Republican Club.

It was an honor... and it gave me a chance to revisit my arguments against fake news, the need for a responsible free press, and the problem of low voter turnout.
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If you'll indulge me in a little history lesson, I'll share the basics.
"We need to take our Country back!"  A common refrain from a lot of conservative politicians these days.  But take it back to what, from what, for what?  Stay with me...

American History 101 - is now in session.

By 1773, (Boston Tea Party) the American colonists were tired of being pushed around, taxed, bullied, and disregarded by mother England and we were done with the whole British Colony thing.  We were All-IN on revolution, right?
Hardly!
 At no time did more than 45 percent of colonists support the war, and at least a third of colonists fought for the British. Unlike the Civil War, which pitted regions against each other, the war of independence pitted neighbor against neighbor. Americans were not only rebelling against the mother country, they were fighting each other.
However, the Patriots were activated and we were in a shooting war by 1775. On July 4, 1776, we declared our independence from enemy England.  We won a few battles and lost a few, but with George Washington on the white horse and British General Cornwallace finally "Cornered-wallace" at Yorktown, the jig was up, the war was won, and a peace treaty was signed in September 1783.
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From a "now what" perspective, the Articles of Confederation got the freedom ball rolling, and then on June 21, 1788,  we had us a ratified Constitution as the official framework of the government of the United States of America.
Smooth sailing ahead was all but guaranteed with this new "liberty for all" thing....or was it?

Freedom Isn't "Free", You Are Warned!

Don't forget what John Adams wrote in 1798:
because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. 
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
QUESTION- So if the Constitution isn't rock-solid, bullet-proof against being able to be taken advantage of, how are we going to be sure we have a "moral and religious" population?  ANSWER- Amend the Constitution to ensure we have Freedom Of Religion.  No State Church for America.
QUESTION- And how are we going to ensure we are informed enough to be able to govern ourselves without the "wisdom of a king" calling the shots?  ANSWER-Easy, amend the Constitution to guarantee Freedom of the Press.

What Do We Need To Be Prepared To Be Governed By Reason And Truth

This quote by Thomas Jefferson makes clear that America's leaders were well aware that establishing a Country without a King was something new and would require some special protection for the free flow of information to the people in order to succeed.
 No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press.... Thomas Jefferson

Keep 'Em In The Dark, Feed 'Em Royal Mushrooms

Under a King, the common man didn't need to know of the plans being made and carried out that would affect his future.  But for a self-governing Republic, information would be critical for all the people to have....
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.... James Madison
Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe. Thomas Jefferson
When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.” – Christopher Dodd
The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.” – Ida B. Wells
So, Freedom of the Press is a necessity for good self-governance.  The press isn't free when threatened by the government BUT the press is also NOT "free" when it voluntarily uses its power and protections in the service of one side of the political spectrum or to push for its own bias.  A press that is in bed with liberal ideology is not "free" and not what the founders had in mind.

EPIC FAIL On The Founders Master Plan

So, how is our Constitutionally protected Free Press doing in the eyes of the public, the very people they are empowered to serve?  A Gallup and Knight Foundation poll shows:
  • Americans think the media is vital for democracy. The vast majority of Americans (81%) say that the news media is “critical”  to democracy.
  • Nearly half (46%) of all Americans think the media is very biased. Fifty-seven percent say their own news sources are biased, and 69% are concerned about bias in the news others are getting.
  • Americans think the media is pushing an agenda. Three in four people (70%) worry that owners of media companies are influencing coverage. They also suspect that inaccuracies in reporting are purposeful, with 52% believing that reporters misrepresent the facts, and 28% believing reporters make them up entirely.
  • Distrust of the media cuts along partisan lines. Sixty-seven percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the media,   But only 20% of Democrats have an unfavorable view,

Not so good huh?  Looks like we information consumers don't approve of what the news chefs are cooking up. The supposedly Free Press is seen less as a free informer and more as the info-arm of liberal ideology.  According to the Pew Research Center: 

In just five years, the percentage of Republicans with at least some trust in national news organizations has been cut in half – dropping from 70% in 2016 to 35% this year. This decline is fueling the continued widening of the partisan gap in trust of the media.

And now we are down to the bone of the matter.

In order for our government to work as designed, we need an informed populace.  But when the media isn't trusted and is seen as biased, the common man either fails to engage (low election turnout...Yakima is usually Washington's lowest) Or he can be lied to, mislead, misinformed, and will suffer the lack of clarity needed to properly decide the issues and candidates....which takes us Example B..as in Biden, Hunter Biden.

You may recall the mainstream press said the Hunter Biden Computer story wasn't a real story, so they didn't cover it ---limiting the free flow of important information required by the public for effective self-governance.  Here's a reminder 

In the heat of the presidential race of 2020, the NY Times never missed a chance to cast doubt on the laptop, saying the information was “purported” and quoting a letter from former Democratic officials who claimed — with no evidence — that it was Russian disinformation. As recently as September 2021, the Times called the laptop “unsubstantiated”

Now the Times says it's true story.  So no big deal, right? Wrong, 1 in 6 of voters polled said it might have affected their vote if they had that information in time and that could have changed the election...so now, too little, too late, the New York Times says -oh, I guess it IS a story...Their decision NOT to cover it (and others too) was not a press operating freely as intended and it did affect voter knowledge and in turn the behavior of voters...the very thing the founders warned us about.

Fake news hurts our Republic

 

The Census Bureau says — The 2020 presidential election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens 18 years and older voting in the election.  ((Sure, it's a record high, this time - yet one out of every three still didn't vote and turnout is historically always worse than that....media FAIL ))

 "We need to take our Country back"

Summary - "We need to take our Country back" means we need a neutral education system that teaches kids how to think, not what to think. We need the freedom to act on our religion, not freedom from being exposed to religion, especially knowing that the Constitution was designed for a "moral" population in the first place.  And finally, we need a free and fair press so that the common man can be well enough informed on matters of state to make reasonable voting decisions without the bias of the information providers coloring his conclusions.

Our brilliant founding fathers created a fantastic sports car of freedom and we are running it not as designed but into a ditch.  We need the owner's manuals of education & information from a Free Press and the ultimate owner's manual for a "moral and religious people" to get us back on track to -- Take Our Country Back!

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