This emerging trend on the right is similar to longstanding views of some on the left, who likewise seek to curb corporate influence, holding that government can constrain property rights as it wishes, because it — supposedly — created those property rights in the first place. Many progressives have also argued that government can restrict political speech by corporations because corporate status is likewise a creation of the state.
In their zeal to counter supposedly dangerous concentrations of corporate influence, both right and left have gone astray. Giving government control over online speech and economic activity does not reduce the concentration of power. It increases it. Instead of a marketplace, however flawed, with competing firms, we end up with a single power center — the federal government — deciding what qualifies as equal treatment of speech (Hawley), what qualifies as misleading or “hate speech” deserving of suppression (the left-wing approach), and which private actors have supposedly excessive influence that must be curbed (both). Moreover, the monopoly regulator in question is far from a neutral umpire. The party in power has obvious incentives to favor its supporters’ speech and repress that of opponents.
Conservatives who are comfortable with their own preferred leaders wielding such vast power should ask themselves whether they have similar faith in President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris or Sen. Warren.
Progressives should ask themselves how they feel about handing it over to the likes of Hawley.