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Election Takeaways for the FCC
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Wed, 2010-11-03 13:46
What do the mid-term election results mean for the FCC?
First, FreePress' version of net neutrality was completely repudiated in the election.
- Every single one of the 95 House and Senate candidates that FreePress/PCCC got to publicly pledge support for net neutrality -- lost their election in the mid-terms. Yes, that is indeed a 0-for-95 record here.
- The FCC should take note that the main "political" driver behind trying to make net neutrality into a national grass roots issue, FreePress/PCCC/Moveon.org, could not get the issue to register on the election radar screen, and where ever they did attract a candidate endorsement of their position, they failed 100% the time in having that candidate get elected.
Second, most of the FCC's business is not political or partisan -- and it need not be. (The 1996 Telecom Act was almost unanimous. And the overwhelming majority of FCC decisions are 5-0.)
- The reason net neutrality/Open/Title II regulation of the Internet has become the most politically divisive FCC issue since maybe the Fairness Doctrine, is because the extreme left chose to polarize the issue for their own political purposes.
- See the post on George Lakoff's polarizing framing of this issue in: "Net neutrality is a made-up issue -- the smoking gun."
- Net neutrality/Open Internet/Title II are divisive politically because that's how FreePress's SaveTheInternet and Google's Open Internet Coalition politically framed the issue to be.
- Google and FreePress tried to redefine common words to mean their opposite and consequently that chicanery caused a huge political fight.
- The word open Internet does not mean an open market with no regulation as it traditionally does, it now means the opposite -- a government-regulated Internet.
- The word free does not mean freedom in the traditional sense, but not having to pay for property or ask for permission to invade privacy.
- The word neutral has been redefined from meaning no anti-competitive behavior, to meaning that no info producer should have to pay for, or contribute to, the cost of Internet distribution.
- The lesson for the FCC here is that FreePress' and Google's net neutrality semantic sleights of hand and tongue have not resulted in political support or consensus, but extreme political divisiveness.
Third, the next few months is no time for the FCC to become politically polarizing by pushing forward with FreePress' election-repudiated agenda to regulate the Internet via Open Internet or Title II regulations.
- As is normal in our electoral process, there is a multi-month transition of power. It may be months before it is clear who will be on and who will be leading all the House committees that oversee the FCC and their appropriations.
- Moreover, with so many new members on the subcommittee overseeing the FCC's implementation of the National Broadband Plan, there will be many different issues important to the FCC -- not just whether it has official Internet regulation authority.
- It may be a freebie for FreePress to advise the FCC to go ahead with Open Internet/Title II regulations and disregard the Constitution, the courts, the Congress and the newly-elected House of Representatives, but it is not a freebie for the FCC.
- The FCC has to live with the Constitution, Courts, Congress, and its new House overseers, going forward.
Finally, what drove this historic wave mid-term election, per exit polls, was primarily concern about the economy/jobs and the Government taking too big a role in Americans' lives.
- If national elections are in part a proxy for determining what the "public interest' is at any given time, this election appears to clear that the public is not looking for Government to take a new unnecessary big role in regulating the Internet that could endanger millions of jobs and billions of dollars of Internet infrastructure investment going forward.
In sum, this election is very meaningful for the FCC.
- There is an important opportunity for the FCC to work cooperatively with the newly elected Congress next year.
- FreePress' polarizing advice to go ahead with Open Internet/Title II regulations before the newly elected Congress is seated in January, seems to be in no one's interest but FreePress' -- because FreePress is only interested in revolution -- not resolution of the net neutrality issue.