The White House email today was all about Obama asking the FCC to consider new rules making the Internet free and open and keeping it that way—to regulate it as a public utility, the way we regulate phone companies.
So why didn’t Obama say this before the election? Maybe some of the many young people who stayed home and didn’t vote—and who live on the Internet and are tuned in to the net neutrality issue—would have actually come out and voted.
My best guess is that Obama knew if he said it before the election the big money donations coming to the Democrats—that at least kept them in the game with the big money going to the Republicans—would have dried up.
And to me that is the problem with too much money in the system—and why this recent Tom Toles cartoon shows us trying to dig through piles of campaign money to find some democracy—it isn’t that one side or the other spends more or even wins more often when they spend more. Rather, it is that when so much money is spent on both sides it drives the agenda to being that which the big money wants, and it ignores the agenda that the people want. The big money donors do not want an open and free Internet. They will make more money if they can control the Internet the way they want to.
In the election aftermath analysis I’ve heard, many are pointing out that several months before the election it looked like the Democrats would make income inequality a big issue in the elections, and then in the weeks leading up to the election they completely dropped it and stopped talking about it (the hard fought for ballot initiatives addressing minimum wage had gotten on the ballots months before and couldn’t be taken off, and they all won handily). I don’t think the Democrats thought the issue had gone away or that it would not play well with the voters. I really believe they got the message that if they kept talking about it the big money contributions, and all the dark SuperPac money would have dried up, because the people who have the money to make those kind of donations do not want income inequality to be talked about. So it didn’t really matter in many ways which candidates they gave their money to. In the end, it bought them what they wanted; an agenda and an election where the issues they wanted out of the spotlight became effectively invisible. Just like their identity.