On just about every matter that I can think of, former President Donald Trump and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are near exact opposites. While both claim to be independents, they are on very different ends of the political spectrum.
Trump believes in small government, capitalism, and the 2nd Amendment. In contrast, the self-identified democratic socialist and Vermont Senator Sanders says all that is overrated. Instead, his policies continuously push for more extensive government involvement, less individual freedoms, and more restrictive gun laws.
There is one thing they seem to agree on, though. And that is the fight to free speech – well, at least on some level.
This became known recently when Sanders was given the opportunity to interview with Ezra Klein, formerly of Vox, for his New York Times podcast. The two discussed Twitter and the fact that the social media platform has been nothing but obvious in their censorship of a great many politicians, including Donald Trump.
Klein asked Sanders, “Do you think there is truth to the critique that liberals have become too censorious and too willing to use their cultural and corporate and political power to censor or suppress ideas and products that offend them?”
Although not in so many words, Sanders answered in the affirmative, saying he does not “feel comfortable about that” censorship.
He explained by using Trump’s recent and permanent ban from Twitter as an example.
He said, “Look, you have a former president in Trump, who was a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law. This is a bad-news guy. But if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the then-president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about that.”
Now, as you can tell, Sanders isn’t exactly painting a very nice picture of Trump here. It’s apparent that he doesn’t have much love or respect for the former president. However, even then, he disagrees that it’s ok to cut out his opinion or viewpoint.
Sanders says it’s a problem that we need to find some semblance of balance for, and what Twitter is doing now is most certainly not correct.
“Now, I don’t know what the answer is. Do you want hate speech and conspiracy theories traveling all over this country? No. Do you want the internet to be used for authoritarian purposes and an insurrection if you like? No, you don’t.
So how do you balance that? I don’t know, but it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about. Because yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned, and tomorrow, it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view.”
And he’s not wrong.
Currently, the political left thinks they have a win in Trump’s social media ban and near cancellation of anything related to him. However, as Sanders says, that same unjust treatment could soon be given to any member of the left-wing and for nearly any reason.
And I’m betting those against Trump won’t be too happy to see one of their own given strict limitations.
Furthermore, Sanders isn’t the only left-leaning politician who has concerns about the ban on Trump.
Take German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for instance.
When she found out about the ban, her office made a statement saying, “The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance. Given that, the chancellor considers it problematic that the president’s accounts have been permanently suspended.”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador shares this concern.
“How can you censor someone? Let’s see, I, as the judge of the Holy Inquisition, will punish you because I think what you’re saying is harmful? Where is the law, where is the regulation, what are the norms? This is an issue of government. This is not an issue for private companies.”
And even prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny says that the ban on Trump is wrong.
“In my opinion, the decision to ban Trump was based on emotions and personal political preferences.” He continued, saying that there was no way “he was banned for violating Twitter rules. I get death threats here every day for many years, and Twitter doesn’t ban anyone…”
As Sanders says, “we’re going to have to think long and hard on” how to fix this problem and make free speech accessible to all.