Saturday, February 28, 2015


Back in November of last year, Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted the following:

"Net Neutrality" is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government.
According to "The Oatmeal" author Matthew Inman, this lead him to assume one of two things:
Thing #1: When you [Senator Cruz] accepted campaign funds from telecom lobbyists last year, they asked that you publicly smear Net Neutrality.

Thing #2: You don't actually know what Net Neutrality is.
Deciding that there was nothing to be done about Thing #1, Mr. Inman proceeds to school the reader on Net Neutrality, with an eye that the Senator would read it, and that this would solve Thing #2. (By the way, if you haven't read it, and are up for an entertaining foray into the issue, give it a read.) Ostensibly.

Now, I'm pretty certain that Mr. Inman, as well as everyone who shared the post on social media, knows that Senator Cruz would be unlikely to read it. And that even if he did, he would be unlikely to chance his stance on the issue.

This, as far as I'm concerned, is because Senator Cruz understands exactly what Net Neutrality is. His comparison to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (to use "Obamacare's" real name) isn't the result of ignorance on the part of the senator. It's the result of ignorance on the part of the senator's intended audience - who understand the ACA to be a Bad Thing that "government" is imposing on them, and can be counted on to vociferously oppose other supposed Bad Things that "government" might come up with. And so, I posit another Thing.
Thing #3: Senator Cruz' constituents and supporters among the public are prepared to take his word for whether or not certain policies are good for them.
After all, without that public trust, there's no point behind Thing #1. And who knows - he might actually believe it. (Personally, I doubt this, but people in high places have gone on the record believing stranger things, so...)

I don't subscribe to the theory that powerful politicians are the puppets of, and bought and paid for by, powerful special interests, who in turn insulate them from any threat of public dissatisfaction but who then turn around and engage in a pointless charade in an attempt to hide that fact from us. My observations tell me that as much as individual votes are simply raindrops in a flood, elections do matter, and so politicians spend time, effort and, perhaps most importantly, money on giving themselves the appearance of operating in the interests of voters - or at least that segment of voters that placed them in office in the first place. I'm not of the impression that powerful political and business interests spend their time worrying about the torches and pitchforks coming out.

In my own understanding, the threat to Net Neutrality had never been the opinions of people like Ted Cruz. It was, and despite the FCC's ruling, still is, the opinions of voters in those states and districts covered by Senator Cruz and his like-minded allies. They're the people who, when they think that what's good for Comcast is good for America, will see politicians standing up for "them," and want to re-elect those same politicians to shape national policy.

And so, in the end, it's the Net Neutrality skeptics among our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors that Mr. Inman should have been explaining things to.

Oh. Wait. That's our job.

No comments: