As with the “War on Terror,” short-term victories seem certain, and enticing; Big Tech made it harder for Trump to disrupt the inauguration, which is great. But in the longer term, we may radicalize people who were previously neutral, and thereby empower even worse foes than the ones we vanquished. The other day I heard from a never-Trump friend, a Biden voter, who is convinced that eventually, after we all get comfortable with what Big Tech has done, it will come for conservatives like him. If that happens, he — and others like him — are not going to ally with their censors, public or private.
But those of us who opposed Trump should also be cautious about such alliances. The right-wing fringe is about to discover what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the anti-terror surveillance state it supported so enthusiastically. Perhaps we could learn from their example and ask what sort of society we want to live in before we start authorizing sweeping new powers.
I still think Twitter was right to block Trump, who cannot be allowed to whip up further insurrection from the Oval Office. But, in its shock, will blue America resist the urge to overreach, or will it try to confine Trump’s voters with him? Eventually, 74 million people are likely to crash through any boundary their opponents can throw up — and when they do, other terrible things may be set free, even if we can’t yet see exactly what.