Democrats appear ready to make “net neutrality” an election issue in 2018. They plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to force Congress to take an up-or-down vote on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision replacing the Democrats’ approach to internet governance.
Some see this as a “clear-cut political win-win for Dems.” In their view, an up-or-down vote means only one of two things: either (1) Democrats preserve their preferred approach to net neutrality or (2) Republicans side with “telecom companies against the [alleged] will of the American people.” This strategy invokes Noam Chomsky’s theory that “the smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”
Chomsky’s theory spotlights the means of defeating it: Republicans should refuse to accept the alleged dichotomy of action presented by a CRA vote. To paraphrase former President Reagan, the Democrats are counting on Republicans to be passive. It is up to Republicans to ensure the Democrats are counting wrong. To do that, Republicans should reclaim the moral high ground in the internet regulation debate by breaking the Obama FCC’s strict—and nonsensical—limits on the prevailing definition of “net neutrality.”
A free market approach to net neutrality would embrace broader principles of internet governance based on traditional consumer protections—including privacy—that apply equally to all similarly-situated internet companies. An approach to internet regulation grounded in traditional consumer protection and constitutional limits would transcend today’s artificially restricted version of the debate by giving voters a third option for net neutrality, while remaining true to conservative and free market principles. Read More
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