RFK Jr. Is Right About Joe Biden

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. can be an unhinged leftist and crackpot, but he also happens to be correct about President Joe Biden’s attacks on constitutional order, particularly free expression.

Speaking to an incredulous Erin Burnett on CNN this week, Kennedy argued that Biden was a bigger threat to “democracy” than Donald Trump, a position that clashes with the media’s entire 2024 campaign messaging.

In a more decent world, we’d be debating which presidential candidate was better at upholding the constitutional order, rather than which one was worse. That is not our fate. And yet, the unique thing about the 2024 presidential contest is that voters are given a chance to compare existing presidential records.

Kennedy contends that Biden “is the first candidate in history, the first president in history that has used the federal agencies to censor political speech or censor his opponent.” One suspects Eugene Debs might quibble with this characterization, though not since the Committee on Public Information has there been a White House that has shown such disdain for free expression and debate.

Biden is the first president to openly and secretly pressure major communication companies to take direction and work in conjunction with state agencies to censor debate.

The same left-wingers who do not believe in any limiting principles while regulating economic life will lecture us about how so-called platforms are free to work with anyone they please, including the White House.

OK, but tech companies also spend tens of millions each year in Washington rent-seeking and lobbying for favorable regulations. They are highly susceptible to state intimidation. When Biden deputizes massive communication companies to act as censors, he’s merely taking a shortcut in the suppression of speech that undercuts, at the very minimum, the spirit and purpose of the First Amendment.

One might even call this brand of state-corporate relationship “semi-fascist.”

RFK is right that the Biden administration engaged in censorship through agencies, but it wasn’t exactly a secret. Recall Jen Psaki informing us that the White House was “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” Biden claimed that allowing unfettered speech on Facebook during COVID was “killing people.” Just contemplate the media’s reaction if Trump’s White House had been keeping lists of “problematic” posts.

Remember, as well, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield warning that social media companies “should be held accountable” for the ideas of those who use their websites. Was she talking about the ideas that spurred the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots, the most expensive in history? Was she talking about those who spread conspiracy theories about Russian collusion? Probably not. Though Trump never did anything to inhibit the spread of criticism or conspiracy theories.

The practical problem with allowing the state to dictate speech is that it will surely abuse the power by tagging inconvenient positions as “disinformation,” as it did with the Hunter Biden laptop story and as it did when pressuring Facebook to ban stories on the Chinese origins of COVID. Even if this were not the case, the state has no business guiding, engaging in or suggesting any limits on free expression — even when it comes to real misinformation or disinformation. The president swore an oath to the Constitution, not the consensus of “experts.”

But look at me naively prattling on about neutral principles. There is no uproar when Biden creates a Ministry of Truth to combat alleged disinformation because the media are uninterested in neutrality of free expression. Partisan legionnaires like Philip Bump note that “Misinformation-spouting RFK Jr. muses that Biden is a threat to democracy,” as if these assertions are somehow in conflict. Most of the attacks on RFK’s comments by “experts and historians” do nothing to dispel the contention that the president works to censor Americans.

One gets the sense, in fact, that just like Ketanji Brown Jackson, most Democrats believe the state dictating speech (as long as it’s run by the Left) is both necessary and good for “democracy.”

The biggest threat to “democracy” — if by democracy we still mean the Constitution — is when the powerful ignore limits of the state with impunity. From that perspective, Biden has been a cancer on “democracy.”

The Left rationalizes and often justifies his authoritarianism by noting the existence of Trump. Even if the former president were as bad as Democrats claim, there is a slew of institutions ready to stop him. Biden? Those institutions cheer on his abuses. And that alone makes him more dangerous.

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David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review and author of "Eurotrash: Why America Must Reject the Failed Ideas of a Dying Continent."

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