Democrats Come Out For Net Neutrality

Time for Republicans to do the same

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Though Net Neutrality is not a partisan issue, as evidenced by bipartisan support outside of Congress, primary support (but not all of it) for enshrining what is called the Internet’s First Amendment has come from Democratic legislators. Matt Stoller, blogging for Open Left, is proud to tell everyone, then, his campaign to get 16 Democratic Senate challengers in this year’s election season on board for the cause is a success.

Though conservatives and liberals have joined hands on the Net Neutrality issue—think back to the shocking show of solidarity between the Christian Coalition and MoveOn.org—the majority of Congressional Republicans have blocked progress. If you’re a one-issue voter, then it’s good news on par with the idea somebody might just do something about it instead of stepping to the music of their telecom puppeteers.

Net Neutrality, for a fresh change, is not an ideological conflict regarding the boundaries of government involvement and authority. It’s Netizens (including small business owners, educators, nonprofits, activists, community organizations) versus a handful of very powerful, very well-funded corporate entities. It’s a matter of whether you want more Googles, more YouTubes, more Facebooks, more (the same) freedom to use the Internet you have thus far enjoyed, or do you want AT&T or Comcast deciding how you use it and whose voice has the best chance of being heard.

Don’t think of it, then, as the rest of this piece focuses on Democratic contenders, activists, and incumbents, as an issue Republicans must be against if Democrats are for it. Think of it as an opportunity to demand of Republican hold-outs to be "with us or against us." Think of it as an opportunity to send a message that campaign contributors and lobbyists do not always speak for what the country wants, and they’d better get on board. If it’s a close race in November, this could be yet another issue contributing to the further culling of Republican ideals from Congress as candidates demonstrate where their loyalties lie—with you, or with corporate special interests.

Stoller targeted 13 Democratic contenders for Senate who had some money to actually run and he reached a milestone this week. All 13 pledged support for Net Neutrality, bringing the total to 16. Three of them even have a little (or a lot) of telco money in their coffers. Those contenders pledging support are: Allen in Maine, Begich in Arkansas, Al Franken in Minnesota, Hagen in North Carolina, Kleeb in Nebraska, LaRocco in Idaho, Lunsford in Kentucky, Merkley in Oregon, Musgrove in Mississippi, Noriega in Texas, Rice in Oklahoma, Shaeen in New Hampshire, Slattery in Kansas, Udall in Colorado, Udall in New Mexico, and Warner in Virginia.

Lunsford in Kentucky is an interesting addition to that list. Lunsford, as any good challenger would, singles out Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell as "one of the reasons that bills with net neutrality language have stalled in congress." Lunsford—whose viable candidacy in Kentucky many still doubt, but it’s a long way to November—pledges support for " needed consumer-friendly telecommunications reform."

Stoller managed to wrangle statement after statement from Democratic challengers, sitting government officials, and major Net Neutrality influencers. We’ve chosen a few nice ones to print here, even if a few names will likely cause some interesting adverse reactions within conservative stomachs. With any luck, there’ll be some Republican statements popping up any day now. After the "thumpin’" they took two years ago, it might be a good idea to identify some issues that can truly cross the political aisle and get behind them—if for nothing else, to steal a little heroism from the other side.

Tim Wu, Professor at Columbia Law School, who coined the term: "Net neutrality is slowly becoming one of those political sacraments.  It’s not like Social Security yet, but it’s getting there.  The basic principle of a fair and open internet is the kind of thing you’d have to hate apple pie to be against."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "Since its inception, the internet has been characterized by its openness – its freedom – its equality.  Without net neutrality, America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs could be left in the slow lane with inferior internet service, unable to compete with the big corporations that can pay internet providers toll charges to be in the fast lane.  Bloggers could be silenced by skyrocketing costs to post and share video and audio clips.

Scott Kleeb (NE): "The internet is to the 21st century what electricity was to my grandparents in rural Nebraska in the 1940s and 1950s. It is critical that we support policies that further expand opportunities rather than eliminate access. Net neutrality is an important component of our American tradition of information exchange."

Al Franken (MN): Al strongly supports net neutrality (it’s one of the many subjects he discussed on his radio show), and will vote to protect it in the Senate.  He believes that it’s essential to preserving the free flow of information and keeping this last great marketplace of ideas open.  We can’t allow that to be tainted by telecomm companies that think they can make a few bucks restricting or encouraging access to certain content.

Jeanne Shaheen (NH): The internet’s role in our daily lives has grown exponentially in the last dozen years. It has created opportunities that we could not even imagine before:  children, in their homes and classrooms, can study the universe as if they were visiting in a NASA telescope, families can read about medical advances as if they are sitting in the best medical libraries, and small businesses can find suppliers and buyers across the country and compete with larger corporations. 


Democrats Come Out For Net Neutrality
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  • Judy

    With Meg Whitman playing patty cake with McCain, it’s likely the Republican notion of net neutrality is akin to Ebay’s, i.e, manulate a lot of little people to write letters to their congressman while flagrantly ignoring the entire concept of free flowing connectivity.  As the Evil Ebay Empire forges ahead with blocking all links off the site, Ebay isn’t part of the web: it’s a giant Venus flytrap.  Once users go in, they’ll play hell getting out again.  By the time Mafia Meg gets done explaining it to John n the boys, we’ll have to pay a fee to use Google and the entire world will just log in to Ebay, forget the rest of the web.

  • Guest

    be for us or be against us, ROFL that is what Jesus said…so if you aren’t for him, then you are against him…good luck with that.


  • http://www.xen.co.za Hugh Robinson

    net neutrality is a misnomer. The web stopped being neutral the day censorship was introduced by Google.

    The we had enforced geolocation for any non .com website which  is isolationist to say the least.

    The original Google ethos of  vision  and customer service has been lost in the drive for profit. Google is no longer a supplier of a broad base of knowledge as can be seen after page three of their serps.

    Where are the milions of pages that give good information but are rejected by an algorithim that supresses innovation and forethought.

    Googles form of consorship is ensuring that every website conforms to its way of thinking. For my money yahoo.com is the king of information.

  • Guest

    Of course this is the same Democratically controlled Congress that wants to prohibit anyone involved with Congress from posting anything on any website not specifically approved by them.  +1 for net neutrality, -1 for blatant hypocricy.

  • David

    I am among the disenfranchised majority. It is pretty simple to me. Keep government hands off of it. In case any of you haven’t noticed the miserable failure of both Democrats or Republicans to intelligently run this nation (somewhere besides into the ground).

    The Democrats regularly tax and spend (our money) while the Republicans regularly borrow and spend (our money) I don’t  really see a huge difference in either party one leans toward socialism the other toward fascism, except that they routinely screw up.

    My word to the congress, Keep your hands off of it!

    Dave G.

  • TerryV

    All I can say is watch your internet wallets. Democrats have been talking of putting a user tax on the internet for years.

  • http://www.reddit.com/user/boots72/ L.W. From Reddit

    A lot of people in power just don’t like the thought of any of that power being taken away.  When they don’t have as much say so as to what goes on, it makes them feel less accomplished. 

    I guess it makes sense given that a lot of big companies are actually owned by Rebublicans.   If all of that power is divided up all across the web, that may hurt their over stronghold. 

    I never understood the connection between Republicans and the lust for power…

  • Guest

    Sheesh!  Commentors above are dancing all around, spouting all kinds of stuff, ignoring the point of the article.  The author did a lot of research to find out who we should vote for if we want network neutrality.  You can vote for your mythic hero and watch the big corporations stifle the internet or you can vote for people who will keep it open.  Your choice.


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