Invoking The First Amendment

I have a confession, one that may not go over well in this geography. I am a fiscal conservative, a believer in free markets…and capitalism. I detest regulation and I feel the weight of excessive regulation almost daily as if it is borne in the atmosphere like the sulfuric particles that impede our oxygen supply in the heavy Makati air. I didn’t vote for Trump but I didn’t vote for Hillary either. I wrote in my candidate, someone who would represent the thoughtful center, someone who I thought would represent me.

Because my fiscal views are consistent with the political right, I have found my way into these communities in the Bay Area. One of them asked me not to criticize President Trump.

“But…I write a column,” I replied. “Do you mean that I shouldn’t write what I really think?”

There was some backpedalling, a lowered voice, and some reference to the First Amendment. That reference piqued my interest. It looked it up. Here it is:

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.

Though this could have had a narrow interpretation, the American culture took this freedom and ran with it. Today, it means that we have the right to tell it like we see it across all media, provided some standards of decency are applied. That includes me, a member of the press, regardless of my fiscal loyalty.

It is hard to write a column and feel that I have to avoid the subject of Trump because I cannot criticize him. In a twisted way, I’m going to point out one or two of the positive effects he’s had. Both of these, unfortunately, stem from the fact that we now have a POTUS that the press and the intelligencia do not respect. What does it mean to now have a country leader that so many can’t take seriously? For the most part, it’s scary. Moreover, I don’t think he is gaining credibility with each day that he serves as POTUS. For 65.8 million Americans (probably more today), there is no leader to guide them in the formation of their opinions.

Whether it was due to his outstanding performance, charisma, good looks, or just political alignment, Obama cast a spell over the press. As a thought experiment, think about what has disappeared from the media since POTUS44 handed the keys over to POTUS45. Has anyone seen any stories about police shootings? As a result, has violence against the police abated?

Another benefit of the country’s muted respect for Trump is that it has restored our dependence on independent thinking and it will liberate our society from a dependence on a strong executive office. The left has had a charismatic leader for 8 years. After all that time, liberals all started to sound the same. They were all painfully politically correct, painfully aware of racism, sexism, of offending anyone. If this has caused some sort of paralysis, think about how hard it was to be the mother of a first grader, competing with other moms who were far more skilled in the art of not offending.

It is a small consolation. I’m worried too. But I think I’ll point out the silver linings when I seem them. We are the kind of the society that can handle a flawed leader because we, the people, are capable of stepping up to the plate to fill the gaps. We are the kind of people who can choose a judiciary that will say no to illegal executive orders. And now, we have a press that is truly free…free to criticize the President, free to point out flaws as it should.

More in this category: « An honorary Filipino Two Stories »

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