Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The power of the netroots

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Matt Stoller has an extremely interesting post, which begins:

Back in May, we did a fundraiser for OpenLeft, and 210 of you sent us a total of $11,198.  I think it’s time you get a report of where we’ve put some of that cash, and even some context stacking us against superlobbyists so you can (partially) judge the value.

Because of the money you put in, every Senate Democratic challenger signed off on net neutrality.

Here’s how you helped this happen.  When you put money into this site, we used it to hire a researcher, Karl Blumenthal.  Karl’s awesome, and he’s dug up info on more than just the telecom guys (we’ll be coming out with cool info soon on various groups).  It took a few weeks for us to figure out how to integrate research into our operation, but eventually, we got there.  Karl was dogged about finding and following up on these statements, and generally helping to organize the campaign.

Now, here’s why this is important.  Telecom companies have a ‘friendly incumbent policy’, which means they will give to incumbents as a matter of routine.  Usually, this is a very risk-averse strategy, since incumbents tend to win.  In environments like this one, however, it’s a very risky strategy, because they are funding the people that are likely to lose and setting themselves up for retribution.  Now, usually this isn’t that big a deal, they can just throw fundraisers for the (new) incumbents they tried to defeat immediately after those people get to DC, to pay off campaign debts or help them with reelection in two or six years.  And once that starts, our leverage is gone.

In other words, the moment we have to get Democratic members on our side is now, when they see no reason to care what the telecoms say and every reason to care about what we think.  And so your funding, and our ability to hire Karl, meant that we could do the extra work to organize these candidates.  They are now on the record, and the telecoms will probably be stuck with a bunch of stubborn incoming members who associate getting elected with supporting internet freedom explicitly against telecom interests.  And the FCC was watching what we did on this site, and the commissioners, who are politicians in their own right, got that their vote on Comcast traffic shaping this week could have adverse or beneficial consequences.

In other words, we helped pretty much end the first stage of the net neutrality fight.  Was it us alone?  Of course not.  But the work we did generated press and validation from influentials all over the place, from Wired to TPM to Larry Lessig to Broadband Census to Digg.  The telecom guys are terrified; the US Telecom Assocation even pulled a blog post attacking me (here it is cached, here’s the empty space on their site).

The work you funded got immediate support and validation from FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Speaker Pelosi, Google’s Alan Davidson, Senator Byron Dorgan, Tim Wu, and Writer’s Guild President Patric Verrone, among many others.  And the FCC is now poised to make significant decisions on the future of the internet and media secure in the knowledge that we are paying attention.

That’s what you funded.

Who did we beat in this fight?  Well, for starters, Tommy Boggs, the superlobbyist and his firm, which has billed a quarter of a billion dollars in the last decade for their services.  That’s a pretty good return on our investment, $10k versus the millions the telecoms have thrown at destroying the internet.  And the best part?  They are afraid.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 July 2008 at 9:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Government

Tagged with ,

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