Americans deserve a free and fair democracy that is brought to them through factual information and trusted leadership. However, with the re-emergence of Parler under the direction of a known right-wing extremist figure that is actively working to dismantle those very rights, only further proves that the site is not intended to engage in dialogue. It is instead used as a means for extremists to spread disinformation about our democratic norms.
Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and now interim CEO of Parler. Parler, founded in 2018, has billed itself as “unbiased social media” and a place where people can speak freely. It allows for a main feed much like other social platforms, follower count, and the ability to share content. It has also been mainly used by supporters of former President Donald Trump and was a haven for misinformation over the course of the 2020 cycle – many coming from those who associate with the QAnon conspiracy theory, anti-government extremism, and white supremacy.
Meckler, though, is also busy with the Convention of States. Funded by wealthy special interests, the Convention of States is committed to pushing through legislation at the state level to call for an Article V constitutional convention. One of two ways to amend the Constitution, this method is untested, has no rules, and is a serious threat to our democracy and the American people.
The Convention of States was founded by Meckler with funding from the Mercer family, who are known for their close connections to shady right-wing technology companies and Donald Trump. Rebekah Mercer, one of the founders of Parler, shares executive committee responsibilities with Meckler at Parler and is majority owner of the company.
Between his leadership at Parler and his support for Article V, Meckler is working to bring right wing extremism into the mainstream and undermine the main tenets of our country – a free, fair democracy. To Meckler and like-minded ideologues, Parler and an Article V convention are two sides of the same coin — a coordinated, well funded attempt to weaken constitutional rights through legal channels and destroy a fair, open civil society through private channels. It is high time that state leaders take this threat seriously and not only work to rescind existing calls, but push back against those that are advocating for these efforts. Meckler and groups like his are not pushing for these because they care about the unique needs different state residents represent, but because they are reaching to fulfill an extremist agenda.
The fact that so-called “champions of free speech” continue to pump millions of dollars into the platform used to coordinate an armed takeover of the capitol in real time are spending even more to try and rewrite the constitution is not something to joke about. The threat they pose to our future is real and we have seen the effects first hand.
Not only are they willing to risk the Constitution, but Mark Meckler and the Convention of States has a history of harboring extremists and being willing to give them a platform to gather and exchange harmful ideas. In April of 2020, an arm of their website, Open the States, was used as a forum to coordinate armed protests around the country in defiance of stay at home orders due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The pairing of Meckler and Parler is not surprising, but it is not time to become further desensitized to the harmful nature Parler and what this could do to leverage the disinformation surrounding a convention. The Convention of States has made it clear that backroom deals and investments from special interest groups is the only way they can pass their agenda, because the people they are targeting do not want it. However, with access to this once-banned platform, it can only be assumed that this will be used to advance Meckler’s agenda.
In order to stop these harmful plots to undermine our democracy, we must stay vigilant. State lawmakers across the country are introducing Article V legislation with help from special interests in the midst of a pandemic and we must let them know we are watching, and we will not stand for it.