Politically Angry; almost ready to be politically reckless
As a producer of intellectual property who is a victim of online piracy, I was interested in these bills. I was interested enough to read them, and interested enough to watch the live coverage of the hearings on SOPA. A lot of time and attention has been paid to the content of these pieces of legislation and how very damaging they would have been (and still may be) to the function of the very internet you’re currently reading me on. That’s not what I want to point out.
What I want to point out is that the author of SOPA, and the people involved at the highest levels of the decision-making process for them, had no idea what they were talking about. None. They may have understood the concept of intellectual property and copyright, but they have no idea how the internet works. It was the equivalent of me, with no medical training, looking at a person who has been hit by a car and saying “I do not understand how the human body works, but there appears to be a lot of bleeding. We need to stop the blood flow. Someone, get me a crowbar and three clips of nine-millimeter ammunition, stat!”
Of course, there was a great deal of talk about how large industries, particularly Hollywood industries, had a substantial hand in the authoring of the legislation, and were strong proponents of it.
All of this is a symptom of a much, much larger problem.
I wasn’t really aware of how very dangerous the 2011 Citizen’s United ruling of the Supreme Court was, at the time. It was “just another political thing.” I honestly have to thank Stephen Colbert for not only informing me on the dangers of Super PACs, but for illustrating them in the arena of reality. I had two distinct reactions to learning that, legally, Corporations are people, and that money equals speech.
My first reaction was a distinct depression; a feeling that my voice was being diminished by a massive wave of corporate influence and corruption. I was raised to believe in the process, you see, and that my voice, and my vote, had some measure of importance in the process.
My second reaction was to slap my forehead and say “well, yeah. Duh.” It really wasn’t news; the influence of money and corporate power in politics is something that I, and many others, simply take for granted these days.
And THAT is the much larger problem.
There is an overwhelming sentiment that the political arena is what it is, and that is how it has to function. There is a place where a bunch of wealthy individuals sit in suits, completely ignorant of the problems of the vast majority of the country, and make decisions based on information that they are fed by special interest groups. That’s the way it is. The concept of introducing change into this system is usually met by the thought that “yeah, but they get to make the rules for themselves, and they’d never want to change the system that works so well for their interests.”
It’s an easy sentiment to develop. Looking at a good half of Congress and the Senate, it’s made up of people who own businesses, who were CEOs and other high officers of corporations. They got elected thanks to a great deal of money and corporate influence, they legislate themselves and their corporate interests huge advantages, then when they eventually leave office, they take up a position as a lobbyist and peddle the influence back into the system.
That growing disparity between the wealthiest individuals in the country and the ever-growing number of impoverished individuals? It seems, from what I can gather, to be the result of a legislated lack of accountability among the people who manage the majority of the country’s economic concerns. “Well, sure, we lost billions of dollars of investments for private individuals, but I’m still getting my bonus. Oh, sure, you can take my job away, but it will cost you a hundred million dollars to get rid of me.”
It makes me angry, it does. It makes me want to find the individuals responsible, and give them what-for. Of course, to do that, I need go only as far as the mirror in the hall. It was me. It was me, and everyone else who simply takes the political arena, as it stands, as a status quo with little or no hope of change. We played the game, voted for the people that we thought would do the least damage, bought the political rhetoric of “you are very small and we are very large.” We listened to the news, when we didn’t simply turn away because it was too depressing, shrugged our shoulders, and said “politics,” like the word explained and excused the situation.
So, what to do about it?
Something amazing happened this week. With SOPA approaching, a day of protest was had. Thousands of popular websites were blacked out in protest of SOPA, with links to contact your local representative to ask them to oppose SOPA and PIPA. There were roughly four and-a-half MILLION electronic petition signatures on January 18, 2011; the internet servers that handle the traffic for a number of congress-persons and senators were heavily impaired or crashed by the volume of traffic. In the face of that much concerted effort, SOPA and PIPA have been shelved (for now, at least). The corporate interests and ranks of blithe ignorance in Washington D.C. had to take a step back and rethink their options. It was a solid and palpable hit, if not a victory.
Just like in any good Roleplaying game, victory won’t come in one hit. But they know they’re in a fight. This is a glimmer of light in an otherwise darkened area; this is how the system is supposed to work. The American people can, at need, step up and let their ostensibly representative government know that we do not approve.
It has been demonstrated that politicians who can throw more money at an election have a better chance of getting elected, or re-elected. They can now have even more money, in unlimited amounts, thrown at elections for them by Super PACs. This is how the system perpetuates itself… the wealthy come into power with the help of the wealthy so that the wealthy can legislate in the interests of the wealthy.
According to RealClearPolitics.com, Congress has an approval rating of 13.3 percent. Over eighty-five percent of the country disapproves of their performance in office. They’re not doing their job; they’re pursuing corporate interests instead of taking action to ease the suffering of those affected by the economy, they’re engaging in the process of getting themselves or their political party elected when they should be rolling up their sleeves and helping their constituency.
It isn’t just congress, either. All three branches of the government are failing, at this point. We don’t really expect campaign promises to be met, these days, but we at least expect a little lip-service to them, every so often. It isn’t happening… no one is doing their job. No one seems capable of doing their job, with the system as it is.
I am seriously considering the formation of a Super PAC of my own; “Americans for an American America.” The sole goal of this Super PAC would be to campaign to have absolutely no incumbents re-elected. None of them.
I seriously don’t care what political party anyone is. The stated goals of the parties have become entirely secondary to the interests of Special Interest Groups who lobby for their own agendas, often agendas that are contrary to the Constitution of the United States of America and the public good. The labels of “Democrat” and “Republican” are just two different flavors of failure, at this point. What is needed, and badly needed, is a wake-up call to those who purport to serve in public office.
“You work for US.”
If employees start getting thirteen percent approval ratings, you fire them. That may seem harsh, but think about that… that means that the employee is successfully accomplishing just over one out of every ten tasks assigned to them. I don’t care if that employee is your cousin, you have to get rid of them. They’re wreckin’ the shop.
A clean-sweep of the political structure is a pretty damn strong message. “We did it to them, and we can do it to you. Before you build a single bridge to nowhere or try to pass a single legislation that takes our rights away, you fix the country.”
It’s time that the American people, as a whole, have a lobby; a lobby that can not only get people elected, but who can kick them the hell out if they don’t shape up and fly right.
Of course, this is an angry post. I always get a little “Slashy and Burny” in an angry post. I’d like to think that, maybe, there might be a more moderate or more reasoned solution. With the pervasive atmosphere of cluelessness that our elected officials have been living in, though, the solution is most likely going to more resemble a sledgehammer than a scalpel.
Just my $0.02, of course…