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Reblogged:Is Florida Blogging Proposal Orbán-Inspired?

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Recently, a Republican legislator in Florida proposed a law requiring bloggers who write about certain elected officials to register with the state or be fined.

This is wrong, and signing something like this into law would disqualify Ron DeSantis from office as far as I'm concerned. A story about the proposal at Mother Jones suggests that DeSantis is behind it, and that a similar law in Hungary inspired it:
No thanks. (Image by Palácio do Planalto, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
... Florida State Sen. Jason Brodeur introduced a bill that would require bloggers to register with the state government when they are paid to write about the governor and other political figures. After registering, bloggers would be forced to file monthly reports listing every one of their posts, how much they were paid for them, and where the money came from. Those who fail to do so could be fined up to $2,500 for each missing report.

That sounded like something that might have originated elsewhere. Florida's blogger registration bill is curiously similar to a section of a Hungarian law that requires media organizations to register with the government. The law, which was passed at the start of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's tenure in 2010, initially required news outlets to register before beginning to publish. (After blowback from the European Union and press freedom groups, it was amended in 2011 so that media organizations have to register within 60 days of starting up.) Could it be a basis for the proposed Florida law? [bold added]
I would not be surprised, and I was well aware that some conservatives like Rod Dreher, who gets quoted later, are big fans of Viktor Orbán, Hungary's authoritarian leader.

But what's more morbidly interesting to me is what Brodeur says when challenged about his un-American proposal:
FIRE, an organization that has positioned itself as a more conservative-friendly alternative to the ACLU, called the bill an "affront to the First Amendment and our national commitment to freedom of the press." Brodeur defended it in an interview with Florida Politics by saying, "Paid bloggers are lobbyists who write instead of talk. They both are professional electioneers. If lobbyists have to register and report, why shouldn't paid bloggers?" [bold added]
I have noticed that it is increasingly common for Republicans to attempt to coopt the evils of the left, rather than fight them, and this is a prime example. The days when conservatives cheered the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance seem well and truly in the rear-view mirror now.

Lobbying and campaign finance are not exactly the same issue, but they are very much related. Also, I am old enough to remember when Republicans at least pretended to be in favor of freedom of speech and in the right to spend one's own money to promote one's own political views.

I even remember holding out hope that better elements in the right might move on to working to take the money out of politics, which would be the ultimate solution to all the lobbying people have to do, often just to keep the government's hands out of their pockets.

No longer: A reporting requirement like this is a clear attempt to intimidate potential political opponents and to influence how people spend their own money on political speech.

Government control of ... everything, I guess ... is taken for granted as if it were a law of nature, as is the parasitic industry of lobbying the practice spawns. And when viewing things on such a thought-free, perceptual-level, range-of-the moment basis, why wouldn't someone like Brodeur think something like The power is there, and we're in office, so let's take it?

There is no thought like, If we pass a law like that, it might come back to bite us, which would have at least crossed the minds of even the worst politicians from a generation ago.

That's what I find most worrisome of all, for whether or not Brodeur and his ilk in the Republican party are actively working to establish a dictatorship, what they are doing now will certainly help those who have no intention of honoring the results of the next election -- that prospect which, however poorly, has kept American politicians somewhat in line for a long time.

All those welfare-state goodies the left started passing out eons ago, and all that bullying-around of industry that necessitated lobbying are ultimately to blame for our current sad state of affairs. So while Mother Jones may be right to sound the alarm about our no-longer-even-semi-capitalist right, those folks should look in the mirror some time: Their policies got that ball rolling.

-- CAV

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