An amazing thing happened the other day: millions of people used their right of free speech to peacefully protest and ask for recourse of their grievances by petitioning their elected officials. And it worked.
You might say, “What’s the big deal? Isn’t that a normal occurrence in a democratic society?” Years ago I would have said, “Yes,” but in the last 20 years or so a citizen’s right to petition their government has been rendered moot by the overarching influence that has been gained by those with money and power. We as individuals might find 10, 100, 1000, or even 10,000 people to agree with us and choose to send letters to our representatives and senators advocating for or against some issue, bill, policy, rule, whatever. But all that clout can be virtually ignored when one individual with enough money can buy that lawmaker’s vote in return for a campaign contribution probably larger than the amount 10,000 individuals might collectively be able to afford or are willing to donate to oppose the power broker.
So when the two online piracy bills currently before the U.S. Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) were for all intents and purposes booed off the stage by millions of US citizens, spearheaded by the likes of Wikipedia, Google, Mozilla, Craigslist, Reddit, and others. MILLIONS! That’s the kind of groundswell that is needed to overcome, in the case, the Hollywood establishment, which I presume are the entities which sponsored and wrote the bills and tried to slide them through Congress to little or no fanfare.
Big Corporations LOST. The people WON. That hasn’t happened very much in my lifetime, certainly not in the past twenty years or so. Back in the good old days (whenever they were) I had this notion that our leaders represented us, listened to us, passed laws that were in our best interests, and would always do so. But then they figured out that being in Congress was a cushy job, paid well, stroked your ego (who wouldn’t want to hobnob with world leaders, wealthy people, the best and the brightest? And the easiest way to keep that cushy job was to buy votes by promising something to those who had the audacity or the wherewithal to ask, and paying for it by taking money from those who didn’t complain or notice.
The spiral deepened and it took more money to buy more votes to retain one’s seat, because the guy in the other party was also making outrageous, expensive promises to his friends, which were often two different groups of people, but more and more have become the same groups. The haves couldn’t lose if they paid off both parties.
It’s gotten even worse since 2001 when the Republican Party realized that it was even easier to buy votes with debt, rather than by taxing unsuspecting dupes like the typical citizen. So we fought two-and-a-half wars (Libya/Pakistan/Iran—could turn into four or more in the future), expanded entitlement programs, but didn’t have the nerve to even declare war or ask the citizens to pay for this largesse with taxes. They borrowed the money, and appear to have little or no intention of paying it off.
The Democratic Party decided this was a great idea, too, but they’ve always been more eager to raise taxes than Republicans, so it took them awhile to catch on to this debt idea. Once they got control of Congress in 2006, they Dems made sure to overpromise goodies to the folks who could help President Obama elected. Then they really started promising everything to everybody during those two years, 2008-2010, when they had control of Congress and the White House.
Now we’ve got a government full of leaders that can’t lead; who are afraid to be honest with their constituents, afraid to be the first one to stand up and say, “We have to stop destroying our country from within.”
And that’s my point. Our elected officials stopped being leaders a long time ago. They are 100% politicians now. Politicians are good at getting elected, because politics has become a cross between a beauty contest and a popularity contest. In one campaign they will say one thing to get elected; in the next campaign they will say the opposite because the court of public opinion has changed in the intervening two, four, or six years. They will follow anyone who can guarantee their re-election.
And that’s where the internet comes in. This one little idea, government taking control of the internet in the guise of protecting us all from piracy, was so abhorrent to enough people that we immediately flooded the internet with protests. We several million saw through the charade of a bill that could have so many negative unforeseen consequences that I shudder to think of what might happen if the US government ever gets control of the internet. Look at how hard China works to suppress their people’s access to the internet. It’s being done, and the US government thinks it’s not such a bad thing, really, because the day may come when all the unemployed, over-mortgaged, underemployed, over student-debted, tired, frustrated, disillusioned citizens in this country say “enough is enough,” the American Dream has become a nightmare and we need a wholesale revolution of Government at all levels, but especially at the Federal level.
Thanks to all who sent emails or letters, called, protested or otherwise made it known to our leaders that they days of blindly following egotistical narcissists is over. We won a decisive victory over “government as usual.” Don’t let up. Pay attention, stay vigilant, and get more involved in what government is doing to us. Question everything. Ask “how will this law affect me personally?” Demand accountability and honesty. Fight for your freedom to live the best way you know how without interfering in everyone else’s life. Demand leadership.
My question to you: What’s your opinion? Let me know, and then let your government officials know. They need to hear that the times they are a- changing.