Millennials and baby boomers differ on many things, but personal freedom isn’t one of them. Even if baby boomers have no clue what Snapchat, Twitter, or Tinder are, they will be affected by the repeal of net neutrality equally as millennials. Because millennials are aware of the danger of the repeal, it is up to them to be at the forefront of the fight.
Democrats hope that these millennials will be a force with which to reckon not only regarding the “repeal of the repeal” but also regarding the elections of 2018, 2020, and beyond. The FCC Commissioner said that those who favored the initial repeal have “… awoken a sleeping giant.” Democrats hope those words are as prophetic as they were in the film “Tora! Tora! Tora!”
Whether the terrible resolve of millennials will have the desired effect remains to be seen, but initial indications are that they are passionate about the openness of the internet. To them, the trope of, “Oh, we won’t do what this allows us to do. We just think we should have the power to ruin the internet for everybody just because we want to have the power that we will never use,” rings exceptionally hollow with young people.
Certain polls indicate that millennials tend to swing Democratic anyway, and this latest overreach by the conservatives in power will galvanize young people into action. They might not form a 21st-century version of the Students for a Democratic Society, but they will certainly have a relevant voice.
Another issue that goes hand-in-hand with the net neutrality repeal is the drive to end Citizens United. Both are cornerstones of Democratic policy, and Democrats consider both to be crucial to maintaining democratic values in the United States. Citizens United is a license for plutocrats to instill “politics for the rich” instead of “politics of the people.”
The fight against Citizens United cannot simply be a blitz attack aimed at an immediate Constitutional amendment. Such a strategy would result in failure. Instead, champions of the cause must work slowly and build an unassailable position. Applicable strategies should include:
- Working toward getting pro-reform candidates elected
- Raising awareness by never letting the topic rest
- Partnering with state legislatures to pass pro-reform laws on a small scale first
- Recruiting grassroots supporters to increase pressure on the powers that be
Only after such time as these measures come to fruition should there be a push for an amendment to remove big money from politics.
End Citizens United is developing a $35 million ad campaign that focuses on both Citizens United itself and on repealing the repeal of net neutrality in a quest to help Democrats win 20 seats back from Republicans in the House. Initial indications are that the campaign is having an effect. The Democrats who face tough election fights in 2018 are already joining the crusade. Some of the Republicans who have wound up as targets include Rodney Frelinghuysen, Erik Paulsen, Claudia Tenney, and Mimi Walters. Several Senators have also be added to the list, Ted Cruz and Dean Heller among them.
End Citizens United places integrity above all else. To that end, the group “walks the walk” and submits all relevant reports regarding its expenditures and assets on-time and with 100-percent transparency. As of November 2017, for example, the group had taken in slightly more than $12 million and spent a bit more than $7 million. The group had zero debts, too, which proves that it is as responsible as it claims to be. By showing integrity, the group’s hope is to inspire new supporters to join the fight.
The struggle to restore net neutrality and the drive to end Citizens United are two tributaries of the same river of resistance. Both are about putting the needs of the people above the needs of business. They’re also about not letting the rich have more of a voice than those who are not rich. For example, without net neutrality, there is nothing to stop a company from charging an exorbitant amount for providing service to groups with which it disagrees. It could, theoretically, wipe out the collective voices of the “small fry.”
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The idea that having more money than someone else makes that person better than someone else is anathema to the people who favor both preserving net neutrality and ending Citizens United. The concept of a free and open internet, which will engender the free and open exchange of ideas, is essential as an expression of our democratic freedom in the United States. By the same token, the allowing of businesses to be considered “people” with the right to “free speech” in the form of monetary donations, distorts and mocks the freedoms enjoyed by each citizen.
Recently, a bill was drafted in the Senate to repeal the repeal of net neutrality. Senator Claire McCaskill was proud to announce that was the 30th necessary co-sponsor. Only time will tell if Congress will do the right thing.