Contra Rep. Mike Gallagher, Serious People Don't Take Brainwashing Seriously
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New Coke was introduced on April 23, 1985. Rep. Mike Gallagher was born on March 3, 1984. That Gallagher entered the world thirteen months and three weeks before the launch of New Coke may be telling.

Consider yet another recent attempt by Gallagher to bring harm to TikTok. In Gallagher’s words, “We know for a fact that the [Chinese Communist Party] uses TikTok to push its propaganda and censor views that diverge from the party line.” Still trying to make “fetch” happen (look it up), Gallagher’s latest attempt to have TikTok banned is rooted in his belief that the CCP is using it to brainwash young Americans into siding with Hamas over Israel. What shallow thought, thought that indicates a lack of historical knowledge.

Consider New Coke yet again. It would be difficult to find a more powerful brand than Coca-Cola, one that opens the proverbial door anywhere on earth where people roam. Yet when Coke launched New Coke in concert with a powerful branding campaign commensurate with its size and global heft, young and old around the world said no thanks. Well before the cases and cases of the original version of Coke had been consumed by hoarding fans of the original, Coca-Cola Classic found its way back to the shelves. Crisis averted. It’s just a reminder that good marketing can’t overcome a lame product.

Applied to Rep. Gallagher and his overdone paranoia about TikTok, it’s hard not to wonder if, had he been born in 1973 versus 1983, his views might be different. We’ll never know, but if he'd been 11-years old in 1985 versus 13 months, he might be a bit more restrained in his expressed fear of TikTok’s ability to shape our interests and opinions. If Coke couldn’t do it, it’s a safe bet that a company he alleges is controlled by the unoriginal minds in the CCP (remember when conservatives rightly viewed government officials as inept?) couldn’t manipulate our thoughts. And there’s more.

Another benefit of Gallagher having been born ten years earlier is that he would have been familiar with a typical refrain to less than clean plates in the 70s: “They’re starving in China. Finish your meal.” John Lennon’s song “Nobody Told Me” was released in 1984, and achieved broad play on FM Radio. Still too early for Gallagher, however, which means he likely never committed to memory Lennon’s line about how “they’re starving back in China, so finish what you got.”

This is all useful considering the China of 2023. Assuming he hasn’t, how useful it would be for Gallagher to walk the streets of Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai, or for that matter the less developed streets of poorer cities like Urumqi. The bet here is that these walks would be eye-opening for the Congressman. Indeed, to visit any reasonably sizable city in China is to see bright signs of the McDonald’s, Nike, Apple, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, and most assuredly Coca-Cola. Contra the impression created by the conservative media one guesses Gallagher solely consumes, increasingly flush Chinese people are presently conducting a rather passionate love affair with all things American. On its own that’s pretty uplifting, or should be. See Lennon, or consult those (including yours truly) lucky or unlucky enough to have grown up in the 1970s. The formerly starving Chinese are eating! And in particular, they’re consuming with gusto brilliant symbols of American capitalism! After which, it tells a bigger story, or makes a bigger point.

Supposedly the CCP is in the process of brainwashing the American people into hating Israel, capitalism, the United States, and surely all other entities and notions great and good. In which case Gallagher’s got nothing to worry about. A walk through the big and would-be big cities of China would open his eyes to the previous truth profoundly, after which it might open Gallagher’s eyes to a more dangerous truth: in his various attempts to limit the freedom of Americans, including their right to the information that informs their thought and speech, Gallagher has become the person he fancies himself fighting against.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, President of the Parkview Institute, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors ( His latest book is The Money Confusion: How Illiteracy About Currencies and Inflation Sets the Stage For the Crypto Revolution.

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