Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Candidates and Net Neutrality

One of the most important issues facing the United States and our 1st Amendment rights is the issue of Net Neutrality. If you aren't familiar with this important campaign, you'll need to take a look at "Save the Internet", a cooperative project of Free Press. Since you've arrived at this blog, I'm betting that most of you are intimately familiar with the Net Neutrality issue and care a great deal about it as well. I thought it would be interesting to see where each of the major candidates stand on this issue, at least according to their campaign websites.

Hillary Clinton doesn't address the issue directly, and I was only able to find the following reference to internet/broadband in her Issues section under the heading "Innovation" (#7):

"Support initiatives to establish leadership in broadband. Under the Bush administration, the country that invented the Internet has slipped to 25th in the global rankings for broadband deployment. In order to accelerate the deployment of sophisticated networks, Hillary Clinton proposes that the federal government provide tax incentives to encourage broadband deployment in underserved areas. She also proposes financial support for state and local broadband initiatives. Various municipal broadband initiatives are underway around the country to accelerate the deployment of high speed networks. The initiatives are useful for education, commerce, technology development, and the efficient provision of municipal services."

That's an admirable plan, if a bit vague. It definitely focuses on the issue from a commercial and economic standpoint, moreso than a 1st Amendment angle. Let's look at Barack Obama. He seems to have a lot more information on Net Neutrality specifically, stating:

"Deploy Next-Generation Broadband: Obama believes we can get broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation's wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.

Protect the Openness of the Internet:
Obama supports the basic principle that network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or applications of some web sites and Internet applications over others. This principle will ensure that the new competitors, especially small or nonprofit speakers, have the same opportunity as big companies to innovate and reach large audiences.

Invest in Rural Areas:
Obama will invest in rural small businesses and fight to expand high-speed Internet access. He will improve rural schools and attract more doctors to rural areas."

Interesting. He has a more well-rounded approach to this issue, at least out front on his website. I expect that both Clinton and Obama will feel the same way about the issue, but score one for Obama for making it a part of his public stance. Now for John McCain. I question whether he actually knows how to use a computer or access "the internets", but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt prior to checking his site. Be right back....

Hmmm......well.....nothing. He actually says nothing about it. I even used the site search engine, using terms like "broadband" and "internet." Nothing. Absolutely zero. So, on one of the most important 1st amendment issues to face the American citizenry, potentially in our history, he says nothing. His "issues" topics are:

Economic Stimulus Plan
McCain Tax Cut Plan
Government Spending, Lower Taxes and Economic Prosperity
Straight Talk on Health System Reform
Strict Constructionist Philosophy
Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life
Lobbying and Ethics Reform
Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Border Security and Immigration Reform
Commitment to America's Service Members Past and Present
National Security
Stewards of our Nation's Rich Natural Heritage
Protecting Second Amendment Rights
America's Space Program

I list all of those topics because I think they illustrate how much the GOP is living in the past. Some of the issues resonate because they are thrust forcefully into the spotlight by GOP activists, but the general American population have many other things on their minds that this agenda doesn't deal with. Particularly when you consider the youth vote, meaning those voters age 18-25. If those people come out in force for the Democracts this year, I just don't see how the GOP (McCain) can win on those issues alone. The war is unpopular, the economy is awful, and ethics hasn't exactly been a strong point for the GOP in recent years (Jack Abramoff....ahem...).

The issue of Net Neutrality isn't a partisan issue. It's an American issue and it is vital to the continued freedom of expression we enjoy on the internet. If we the people lose out on this issue, our voices will be Balkanized to a kind of Cable Access Television-style corner of the web, while big companies get the benefit of this modern form of expression. If we are truly a democracy, this will be addressed in the general election and the candidates will be forced to explain their positions publicly.


mike's spot said...

I think you nailed this one Mike. However I don't think Hillary is on the same page as Obama. She is a woman who loves control; just like her husband. If she can limit the freedoms of Americans- she will.

McCain is a bit outdated, but some of his issues still stand.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I have no faith in the youth vote. WE SUCK as a demographic.

how are you so certain this will be different? I think sometimes you and I get too sucked into NYC politics and can't remove to the rest of the country.

Mike Plugh said...

I'm sure that the youth vote is energized in this election. The polling data shows unprecedented levels of participation (at least for the Democrats). And, not only the youth vote, but also 1st time voters. The Democratic turnout has been close to double the GOP turnout so far in most places and a big part of that is the dedication of the 18-25 year old demographic. It's been historic.

McCain's issues still stand, but he's in an unfortunate position this go round. Most of his issues are not at the top of the national priority list, and those that are don't favor the GOP position, which he has embraced.

He has an uphill battle ahead of him. The Limbaugh crowd will scuttle his campaign. The anti-war Republicans will stay home or vote Obama. The economy is an issue, and when the economy is an issue, people vote Democratic historically. Terror is a GOP issue that got Bush re-elected, but is no better than 3rd or 4th on the list of national issue priorities. The economy and Iraq are 1 and 2, and that can't be good for McCain in terms of a broader electoral climate.

Here's a link to some news about the youth turnout, which also cited the impact of Ron Paul (another anti-war candidate, by the way), who I neglected to mention earlier.


Mike Plugh said...

Here's another article with amazing info on the youth vote. One snippet here:

"According to a 2000 poll, 13 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds said they were paying attention to the presidential campaigns. This year, a poll at a comparable time in the campaign found 74 percent of young people were following the campaigns."

Here's the article:


mike's spot said...

thanks for the links mike!

GOP turnout being low- isn't that the case historically for primaries?

as for the vote- I hope I did not gauge it correctly, but I remain a skeptic.

time will Tell!