NEWS AND OPINION:
FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR MAYBE NOT
Is the nation switching from the land of the free and the home of the brave — to the land of the silent, and the home of the reluctant? Citizens are wary of speaking their minds, a new poll suggests. Many Americans are opting to stay quiet in an intensified culture of political correctness fostered by activism and often biased media coverage.
“Few Americans think they have true freedom of speech today and think the country is too politically correct,” reports a new Rasmussen Reports survey.
It reveals that just 28 percent of Americans believe that they have think Americans “have true freedom of speech today.”
A hefty majority — 66 percent — believe that they must “be careful not to say something politically incorrect to avoid getting in trouble.”
Meanwhile, here’s what the First Amendment says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Not all speech is covered by the First Amendment, according to The Newseum Institute, which lists such exceptions as defamation, plagiarism of copyrighted material and other exceptions. The organization maintains a very clear guide to First Amendment rights and freedom of speech on campus, online and in other circumstances, found here
ONE GUY TAKES A BREATHER
Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter says he recently took a weeklong break from the “political insanity” to find that normal Americans are not all wrapped up in the “fake drama” that appears to grip the nation following violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and other locations.
“What’s the effect on normal people? Taking a break from Twitter and the media for a week to go be with normal people gave me an interesting perspective that I don’t get when I’m surrounded by others invested in politics. None of them care,” says Mr. Schlichter, a trial attorney based in Los Angeles.
“The exact number of times I heard normal people mention Nazis was zero. No one normal was talking about it, except on the occasional big screen I passed in my travels. No one normal was paying attention to the Wolf Blitzers or the Rachel Maddows. Everyone normal was living their lives, and this fake moral meltdown had no part in them. The fact that the whole thing is so ridiculous doesn’t help it gain traction. Donald Trump is a lot of things, but a Nazi is not one of them,” the columnist concludes.
A CORDIAL VISIT
President Trump‘s trip out West this week is not all drama and noise. Mr. Trump also journeys to Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday, poised to address 9,000 members of the American Legion, gathered in the city for an annual convention.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval will greet Mr. Trump when he arrives — in contrast to the president’s reception during his visit to Phoenix on Tuesday, at which no major Arizona elected official made an appearance.
“I am grateful that the President of the United States is traveling to Reno to address the American Legion and speak directly to this important veteran’s organization,” Mr. Sandoval said in a statement. “Our servicemen and women dedicate their lives to our country and Nevada welcomes anyone who will honor this incredible sacrifice and service.”
GOP GETS SOME MAGA
Critics of the Republican Party push a non-stop and corrosive narrative that there’s a huge chasm between the establishment GOP and President Trump, which could yield dire consequences for the party in the 2018 and 2020 elections.
Yes, the two sides have had cranky moments and territorial scuffles. Scrutiny of current GOP outreach, however, reveals that things may be cordial. The Grand Old Party appears to be getting in touch with its inner “MAGA” — the distinctive acronym which stands for “Make America Great Again,” Mr. Trump’s most powerful campaign mantra.
The critics may cringe, but the Republican National Committee has warmed to pro-Trump messages, which could engage both the establishment crowd and the millions of grass-roots voters who stepped up to support Mr. Trump during the election.
Crafting such messages is a fine art, but it’s doable. Ronald Reagan, in fact, was a master at appealing to multiple demographics with his carefully calibrated mix of street smarts, humor, hard facts, inner mettle, gumption and — most importantly — sincerity.
The GOP is prudently drawing closer to this style, which could prove to be a kind of cultural unifier. The aforementioned committee, for example, has put out a call for pro-Trump “digital activists” and crafted public petitions to laud Mr. Trump’s border wall, immigration policy and his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, among other things.
“Be a part of the #BigLeagueTruth Team,” notes a new plea to Twitter-savvy Republicans. “We cannot count on the FAKE NEWS to bring truth to the American people. We need you to help us speak directly to hard-working Americans and fight alongside President Trump for America First policies. Join the #BigLeagueTruth Team and help us cut through the noise.”
The GOP also is selling “Fight the Fake News” bumper stickers, by the way.
Wednesday, meanwhile, is a big day for the party, marking the start of the Republican National Committee’s summer meeting at a splashy resort in Nashville, Tennessee. There’s three day’s worth of agenda attention to rules — some open to the press, some not.
The theme of the event is promising, with Trump-style appeal. And here it is: “The Republican Party is fighting for a freer and stronger America where everyone has the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”
TRUMP’S STILL THE MAN
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is convinced President Trump will still be the man of the hour in 2020.
In an interview Tuesday with Fox Business Network anchor Stuart Varney, he was asked to weigh in on a recent comment by Sen. Susan Collins. The Maine Republican suggested Mr. Trump may not be the GOP presidential nominee when the time comes.
“It’s very hard to get things done in this highly politicized environment, but you have to remember when Donald Trump ran for office, many of the people, many of the pundits, many of the so-called-experts said he would never run, he would never be successful, he would never be a real candidate. And he defeated 16 Republican challengers in the primary, he won 38 primaries and caucuses and he went on to defeat Hillary Clinton with all of her expertise and all of her geniuses around her,” Mr. Lewandowski responded.
“I don’t take any weight in the fact of what Sen. Collins said about Donald Trump being the nominee in 2020. If Donald Trump runs, he will be the Republican nominee. There’s no question about that.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 70 percent of Americans say they have confidence in small businesses
• 29 percent of this group say small businesses are the backbone of the economy.
• 28 percent say they are “accountable to customers”; 14 percent say they create jobs for local people.
• 13 percent say they own or have owned a small business, 7 percent have worked for one.
• 21 percent overall say they have confidence in “big business.”
Source: A Gallup poll of 1,009 U.S. adults conducted June 7-11 and released Tuesday.
• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin
• Jennifer Harper can be reached at email@example.com.
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