A group called the Progressive Change Campaign Committee seems to think–or wants us to think that it thinks–that network neutrality is an issue that can somehow change the dynamics of next Tuesday’s election. It’s trumpeting the fact that that 95 Democratic candidates for the House and Senate have signed it’s net neutrality pledge. “Once again, progressives are working together with bold Democratic challengers to show Democratic Party leaders what it looks like to go on offense,” PCCC co-founder Adam Green wrote in a Huffington Post article.
There’s one big problem. The brief pledge is almost entirely free of substance:
“I believe in protecting Net Neutrality – the First Amendment of the Internet. The open Internet is a vital engine for free speech, economic opportunity, and civic participation in the 21st century. I stand with millions of working families and small businesses against any attempt by big corporations to control the Internet and eliminate the Internet’s level playing field. In Congress, I’ll fight to protect Net Neutrality for the entire Internet – wired and wireless – and make sure big corporations aren’t allowed to take control of free speech online. Mark me down as a 21st century Internet champion!”
What’s that mean? Nothing, really. Net neutrality is a complex, difficult issue. Failing to include even a rudimentary definition of what it means by the term belies PCCC’s claim of boldness. In fact, without the gratuitous anti-business rhetoric, they probably could have signed up 450 candidates.
Unfortunately, this is typical of what has happened to the net neutrality debate. It’s become a slogan rather than a serious discussion of policy. Fortunately, in the real world, the internet seems to be chugging along just fine with the prospective violations of neutrality still looking more like a scary Halloween mask than an imminent threat.