A Lot More People Elected Jack Dorsey Than Elected Ted Cruz

Zodiac Killer cipher, San Francisco Examiner, July 31st 1969. Public domain.
Zodiac Killer cipher, San Francisco Examiner, July 31st 1969. Public domain.

“[W]ho the hell elected you,” US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at an October 28 Commerce Committee hearing, “and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear?”

Cruz was exercised over Twitter’s decision to block tweets promoting a series of New York Post stories about the supposed contents of Hunter Biden’s supposed laptop — stories which Cruz and his partisan comrades hope against hope will damage Joe Biden’s presidential campaign badly enough to garner their own candidate, Donald Trump, another four years in the White House.

Twitter (and Facebook) did indeed exhibit poor decision-making skills in trying to stop the stories’ spread. But we don’t need Ted Cruz and Friends to punish them. The Streisand Effect reversed their decision for them, and they took major hits on credibility and trustworthiness to boot.

Which brings up the question: Who the hell DID elect Jack Dorsey?

And while we’re at it, who the hell elected Ted Cruz?

Jack Dorsey is elected by more than 300 million Twitter users, any of whom are free to walk away from the platform at any time if they no longer find that platform worthwhile. 100% of those users vote for or against him every day, day in and day out. If they’re not happy, Twitter’s stockholders and advertisers aren’t happy. And if Twitter’s stockholders and advertisers aren’t happy, Dorsey’s out of a job.

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, was elected by 4.2 million Texans. That’s less than 15% of the state’s population. Nearly as many Texans (4.045 million) preferred Democrat Beto O’Rourke. 65,000 of them preferred Libertarian Neal Dikeman. More than 20 million expressed no preference at all, some because they had no preference, some because they didn’t think their preference was worth the effort to express in the voting booth, some because they weren’t allowed to vote.

But for some reason, Ted Cruz seems to believe that he has a broader and more legitimate mandate to run Twitter than Jack Dorsey does. And not just Twitter. Ted Cruz thinks he’s entitled to run pretty much everything, at least when he can get 50 other US Senators, 218 US Representatives, and a president to agree.

You can fire Jack Dorsey from your life right now, by deleting your Twitter account, with no repercussions beyond not being able to use the service he offers.

You can’t fire Ted Cruz. Nor can those 4.2 million Texans, at least until 2024. And if you don’t want the “services” he offers, he’ll send enforcers with guns to make sure you accept (and pay for) them anyway, or be caged or killed.

Cruz reminds me of a feared figure from my childhood, a guy who also couldn’t be fired, who also demanded that platforms of the day publish the stories he wanted published, and who also backed up his demands with threats of murder. If there’s a difference between the Zodiac killer and Ted Cruz, it’s that the Zodiac had the guts to pull the trigger himself.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


In Five States, the Presidential Race Isn’t the Most Important Thing on the Ballot

FreeImages.com/Mateusz Atroszko
FreeImages.com/Mateusz Atroszko

Yes, everyone’s caught up in the question of who will win the presidential election next week. Yes, everyone wants to know whether the Democrats will seize control of the US Senate. But those are “horse race” questions, and none of the likely outcomes are, in themselves, likely to result in long-term change from business as usual. The campaigns are full of sound and fury, but they signify not much more than mild policy tweaks.

If you’re looking for significant and lasting change, look further down your ballot. Especially if you live in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, or Mississippi. Voters in those first four states will decide whether to legalize recreational use of marijuana; in the fifth, whether to allow medicinal use.

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris has pledged that a Joe Biden administration would work to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

Given the Biden/Harris record as drug warriors and mass incarcerators, I’m not sure I find that promise believable, but the tide is definitely turning on cannabis. In fact, I’m surprised the first Trump administration never made a move on the issue. But these ballot issues could make the difference nationwide, not just just in those five states.

Marijuana wasn’t criminalized because it’s harmful. Marijuana was criminalized so that federal agents like Harry Anslinger wouldn’t lose their jobs when alcohol prohibition ended, and so that William Randolph Hearst’s wood-pulp paper mills wouldn’t have to compete with cheaper hemp paper.

Marijuana hasn’t remained illegal at the federal level because it’s harmful. It’s remained illegal at the federal level because keeping it illegal directs billions of dollars into government bureaucracies with thousands of employees. Those bureaucracies and those employees  constitute a special interest lobby — historically a very effective one — within the government itself.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once admonished a group of petitioners: “OK, you’ve convinced me. Now go out and bring pressure on me.”

So far, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and 11 states and DC have legalized recreational use, in direct nullification of federal law. That’s pressure.

Four more states in the latter category and one more in the medical category, with more than 2/3 of Americans supporting full legalization,  would be even more pressure.

Maybe even enough pressure to finally counter the self-interested lobbying of the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as well as “non-profit” hangers-on whose (often taxpayer-funded) budgets depend on scaring us all with tall tales about marijuana.

Sooner or later, Congress and the White House will cave and end the war on marijuana. Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Mississippi can make it sooner rather than later. And hopefully they will.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.


Election 2020: The Up Side of Undivided Government


As of late October, the political modelers at FiveThirtyEight gave Democrats a 72% chance of pulling off the trifecta — winning the White House and majorities in both Houses of Congress — on November 3.

My visceral response to that possibility is negative. Excluding outlier possibilities like a Libertarian landslide, I’ve always considered divided government the best outcome.

Gridlock, in theory, is good. If an opposition party controls either the White House or one house of Congress, that theory goes, it can thwart the other party’s worst ideas through presidential veto or the opposition-controlled house refusing to pass legislation.

But in the 21st century, that theory hasn’t proven out very well. Instead of one party resisting the other party’s worst ideas, it tends to trade its acquiescence to those ideas for getting some of its own worst ideas implemented as well.

Additionally, the runaway growth of presidential power means presidents usually get away with just ignoring Congress when it won’t give them whatever they demand.

Except for a few months around election dates, when gridlock re-emerges as a stalling tactic, divided government delivers the worst of both worlds.

There’s one good thing to be said for single-party government: The ruling party owns the outcomes of its policies.

George W. Bush and the Republicans owned the first six years of the “War on Terror.” They controlled the White House. They controlled the US House of Representatives. They controlled the US Senate.

Barack Obama and the Democrats owned the Affordable Care Act. It was passed by a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate and signed by a Democratic president.

Donald Trump and the Republicans owned everything between January 20, 2017 (when Trump was inaugurated) and January 3, 2019 (when a Democrat-controlled House opened session).

With divided government, both sides have plausible excuses for failing to make our lives better. The ruling party blames opposition obstructionism. The opposition party blames the ruling party’s unwillingness to compromise.

Both excuses are true,  but both excuses also spread a concealing fog over the truth that neither party offers real solutions, and the fact that neither party cares about anything but preserving and expanding its own power.

When one party controls government, it has no one else to blame when its policies fail. What you see is what you get, and what you get is one party having everything its way. That clarity may be the only consolation prize we get out of this election.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.