The First Amendment only prevents the government from censoring speech. It does not require private companies to provide a platform for all comers to exercise their rights to free speech. Twitter, Facebook and other media firms and publishing outlets are well within their legal rights to kick Donald Trump and other bad actors off their platforms.
The danger occurs when these giant media monoliths partner with the government in order to impose this censorship. A case can, in fact, be made that our corporate ultra-consolidated media and and our corporate-captured and owned government are one and the same entity. At the very least, they are partners in the exact same oligarchic enterprise. Ironically, for all the talk of Trump being a fascist, one of the key elements of fascism is the melding of government and corporations. This true coup against democracy long preceded his election to the highest office in the land. In fact, this coup is what enabled his rise to political power in the first place.
Therefore, the expulsion of Donald Trump and his followers from these private platforms, these unaccountable platforms which have forged unhealthily close ties to the CIA and the Democratic Party, might feasibly lead to the silencing of any voice that the "establishment" or the "ruling class" or the "deep state" or whatever you want to call the permanent structure of money and power, decides that it doesn't like.
Never mind the spectre of "trickle-down" censorship. This censorship is already occurring. Google, for one, has been exposed as using its secret algorithm to suppress search results on the Internet. A secretive group calling itself "Prop Or Not" arose in 2016, publishing a list of some hundred blogs and media outlets purported to be under the control of the Kremlin. There's more than one way to suppress content other than imposing outright censorship. There are smear campaigns and intimidation tactics galore to get undesirable voices to shut up, be cancelled or just ignored.
The failed Trump-enabled putsch at the Capitol last week could be just the newest, niftiest incentive that these powerful people need to clamp down on unpopular or "divisive" rhetoric and protest movements in the name of "national security." They clamped down with a vengeance after 9/11, with the Patriot Act. How ironic that Trump cultists' favorite name for themselves is "patriots" who are trying to "take our freedoms back" from the very architects of the Patriot Act.
We have to stay vigilant, especially as it now appears that there are plenty more dirty hands than Donald Trump's involved in last week's massive breach. Latest reports indicate that forces within the Pentagon itself may have been involved, and that it was Congressional leaders who balked at National Guard troops guarding the capital as a preventive measure because of the "bad optics" such militarization of the halls of "democracy" would broadcast.
Even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moves in a high state of emergency to impeach Trump for a second time for inciting a riot, her lieutenant James Clyburn tamps down expectations for swift justice by calling for a hundred-day delay in sending the lone impeachment article to the Senate for trial. This delay would ostensibly allow President Biden to put the Senate to better use enacting his economic agenda.
We'll soon find out what that agenda will be. Early indications are that conservative Democratic senator Joe Manchin will be the party's designated fall guy, or bad cop, for continuing Democratic inaction on a sweeping pandemic relief package. The bright spot is that more and more of us can detect ass-covering whenever we see it.
The key word is vigilance (as opposed to the top-down orchestrated vigilantism in service to a billionaire we saw last week.) We have to keep covering the ass-covering and speaking out like there is no tomorrow.
If our elected leaders really do care about the rise of right-wing extremism in the United States, they'll emulate FDR, who stopped American fascism right in its tracks in the 1930s with the New Deal legislation.
Give people money. Give people health care. Give people jobs. With their dignity restored, maybe they won't feel so aggrieved and so prone to fall under the spell of another cult leader charlatan like Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the private media companies arrogating to themselves the power to squelch speech should be broken up and the entire Internet should be made a public utility. That way, the entire public and its court system - not the billionaire tech CEOs - would be the final arbiters of the First Amendment.
Oh, and let's also consider restoring the Fairness Doctrine and legislate broadcasting in the public interest.
Tall orders for sure, but why stop at just one solution to the "friendly fascism" that's been operating in this country for most of our lifetimes?