Republicans And Democrats Alike Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality; Why Don't GOP Officials In Congress Recognize This?

from the who-are-they-representing dept

Within hours of President Obama’s surprise call for true net neutrality rules under Title II, Republicans in Congress were in a full-fledged freakout. Beyond the nutty comparisons to Obamacare or suggesting that this will lead to greater oppression in Russia, China and Iran (no, really, that claim was made), a bunch of elected Republicans in Congress sent a letter to the FCC strongly opposing Title II, insisting that it would be “beyond the scope of the FCC’s authority.”

For years now, we’ve pointed out how ridiculous it is that net neutrality became a “partisan” issue. In the early days, when it was neither, there were interesting discussions about the pros and cons of it. Once it became a “blue team v. red team” issue, most reasoned debate went out the window, and we were left with ridiculous exaggerations about “regulating the internet” or “the death of the internet.” That’s not helpful.

But here’s the thing: actual Republicans outside of Congress support net neutrality too (though, it helps not to call it “net neutrality.”) Two separate studies have come out this week making this point. First up, there was a poll from the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication, checking in with 900 adult US residents. When not using the term net neutrality, but asking if they “favor” or “oppose” allowing broadband access providers to charge websites or streaming video services extra for faster speeds — across the board, only 17% favored or strongly favored that idea, while 81% were opposed (37%) or strongly opposed (44%) the idea. Digging down to just the Republicans, it turns out that even more Republicans were against this than democrats. Only 13% favored (11%) or strongly favored (2%) letting broadband players set up such tollbooths, while 85% were opposed (44%) or strongly opposed (41%).

Meanwhile, a different poll released by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance (IFBA) and done by Vox Populi, surveying 1270 active voters, found similarly overwhelming results that conservatives and Republicans actually support (strongly) net neutrality:

Some 83% of voters who self-identified as ?very conservative? were concerned about the possibility of ISPs having the power to ?influence content? online. Only 17% reported being unconcerned. Similarly, 83% of self-identified conservatives thought that Congress should take action to ensure that cable companies do not ?monopolize the Internet? or ?reduce the inherent equality of the Internet? by charging some content companies for speedier access.

A few months ago, we wrote about a great argument made by a “self-identified conservative” arguing why Republicans should support reclassification, mainly to block out the harmful monopolistic tendencies of broadband providers. And it appears that conservatives and Republicans (and, of course, those aren’t always the same thing, but there is a lot of overlap) intuitively agree with this position.

So why don’t their elected representatives? The explanation that still seems to make the most sense is that the money is too good in opposing net neutrality.

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Comments on “Republicans And Democrats Alike Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality; Why Don't GOP Officials In Congress Recognize This?”

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96 Comments
John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Republicans?

The trouble is easy to spot: if both parties take the same stance on an issue, then it doesn’t matter if the voters agree with that stance or not because it won’t cost them at the polls.

This is yet another way that political parties are harmful to the nation, and especially when there’s effectively only two parties.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Republicans?

Exactly. The reason for this is that when you’re not in power you can’t change anything and so there is no harm is claiming that you hold a popular position. That way you can point fingers at the party in power and blame them for taking positions against what the public wants and blame them for nothing ever being changed. When you’re finally in power all of a sudden the roles reverse and you’re the one taking the unpopular position and the other party is taking the popular position doing the same thing you were doing when you weren’t in power. The end result is always that the government effectively doesn’t act in the public interest and doesn’t do what the public wants. Democracy right?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Republicans?

Actually, looking at that chart shows independents show up in relatively comparable numbers as liberals and conservatives. There may be hope for you yet.

I know “independents” there tend to be flip-floppers (may vote for either Dems or GOP depending on their mood), but that’s a lot of people not wedded to either of the biggies.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Republicans?

As an independent (in my state, I’m called “unaffiliated” to distinguish from people who align with the Independent Party), I object to being called a flip-flopper. My principles are pretty constant and I vote according to them.

I may vote for candidates who are affiliated with the Democrats or Republicans (or Greens, or Libertarians, etc.), depending on the candidate, but I am never voting for the party itself. I’m voting for the person.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 That's typical of "moderates"

As an independent… I object to being called a flip-flopper. My principles are pretty constant and I vote according to them.

Moderates and centrists aren’t wishy-washy either. They just have opinions, usually vehement ones, that don’t precisely align with the Dems or ‘Pubs (or contemporary US Liberals or US Conservatives, for that matter).

We’re a nation of extremists. Just some are extremist in unique combinations.

e.g. I’m pro-social equality so I tend to vote according to contemporary liberals (Gay rights, welfare state, reproductive rights, secular government et. al.), but I’m also consistently anti-gun control. This is more closely aligned with classical liberalism.

Sketch says:

hmph...

Riiiiight…..Because the DemoCorps always do whats in our best interest. How about taking ‘sides’ out of the commentary – because NO ONE has clean hands here – not the R’s and certainly not the D’s.

/George Washington was right – Political parties are evil and divisive.
//Zombie George Washington for Prez?

Sketch says:

Re: Re: hmph...

…while the title is a not-so subtle hint at hitting out at the R’s – which purposefully TRIES to color the reader’s POV. So as a “journalist”, Mr. Masnick is failing at keeping a neutral position and has fallen into ill-repute as an “activist journalist”, which is just a schmuck word for political hack.

which is it? News or Opinion?
\Let me TELL you a Question.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: hmph...

IOW, “I disagree with your opinion so you’re not allowed to have one!”

How exactly is pointing out that Republican officials’ actions are at odds with the position of a large majority of their constituents “taking sides”? Are you claiming Mike wouldn’t point out the exact same thing if Democrats were doing it?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: hmph...

.Because the DemoCorps always do whats in our best interest.

Did anyone say otherwise?

How about taking ‘sides’ out of the commentary

WE almost always do. We never name parties, and we avoid nearly all such partisan talk. But in this case it is a partisan issue, and we’re just pointing out that’s stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: hmph...

I think the best way to say this… this issue is beyond sides… it will be corrupted by politics as usual so that some rider, or 12th hour madlib will be attached ruining the whole damn thing making Ted Cruz right in the end… they just cannot help themselves.

I am all for classifying ISP’s and utility, but we still see the FCC playing monopoly maker with traditional telco too…

Obamas proposal sounds good, but things from congress these days NEVER come even close to what it sounded like when advertised.

And of course if nothing happens then the punk companies will just get greedy and rape us for every last penny.

We are literally caught between a rock and a hard place because someone is waiting in the shadows to screw us no matter which path we take.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Nonono…

Campaign money doesn’t determine elections!

It determines what those elected will defend: not the voters, but the contributors!

And since the real good contributors contribute to both sides, their business interests will always be covered. Whereas your interests as a voter and consumer… well, not so much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: WWhy Don't GOP Officials In Congress Recognize This?

Absolutely correct. There is a large segment of the population (including people in Congress) that will reflexively oppose anything that Obama writes, says, does or proposes simply because it’s him. If you read carefully in the right places (while trying to avoid being nauseated) you can find the overt and covert racism, the latter coded carefully in the usual dog whistles.

It started even before he was elected and it has continued to this, uninterrupted. The merits of his positions don’t matter. The costs don’t matter. The political implications don’t matter. All that matters is that he is not white.

We will see this again if Ms. Clinton is elected: all that will matter is that she is not male.

Until the inferior members of the species — the ones whose bigotry, prejudice, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny cripple their thinking — are rendered extinct by the slow and painful process of evolution, so will it be.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: WWhy Don't GOP Officials In Congress Recognize This?

Clearly, any opposition to Obama must be racism because the Republicans were totes cool with Bill Clinton as prez and would never have obstructed, disagreed with, or impeached him. (And don’t blow your load so soon; the election isn’t for two more years! You’ve got plenty of time to spread your very reasonable “DAE republicans are evil and I hope they all die?? lolz!” opinion before you activate The Misogyny Card.)

Are you sure you’re not parody?

Zonker says:

Re: Re: Re:

Then why do the Republicans not pick one of the other two ideas the Democrats came up with and support that instead rather than insist on repealing their own idea and going back to doing nothing? Claim the Democrats ideas as your own and take the credit for it.

Oh yeah, partisan politics, always oppose anything from the “other” side, and the revolving door.

Anonymous Coward says:

no longer a major issue

It’s funny that the whole issue of “net neutrality” only became a national topic when it started to affect major corporate interests.

During the many years when the major bandwidth consumers were P2P users, ISPs blocked and throttled them without restraint, yet no one in the government ever had a problem with that.

The cold hard reality is that things were much worse a decade ago. Neutrality should have been mandated then, not now, since ISPs have now largely abandoned their war against P2P users that they once fought so ruthlessly.

David says:

Democrats and Republicans must never agree

Whenever Democrats and Republicans are in agreement, a decision can be made without additional bribes. That would turn our congress members into paupers and have the industry suddenly sitting on money they don’t know what to do with. Their products might get cheaper, thus increasing the already horrifying trade deficit.

So in order to avoid running the U.S. into the ground, Democrats and Republicans will make sure to disagree, keeping the influx of industry money into congress dependable.

It’s like having two football teams on the field with both free to choose their goal side. If they pick the same frequently, ticket sales will go way down, and sponsors will not see the point in buying expensive players.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Republicans And Democrats Alike Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality; Why Don’t GOP Officials In Congress Recognize This?”

Because politicians the world over are in support of what the public wants until they get into a position to do something about it. Then they suddenly change their minds when it comes to issues under their control. It’s called democracy right?

John85851 (profile) says:

Blue team versus red team

Once it became a “blue team v. red team” issue, most reasoned debate went out the window?
And that’s the real reason why politicians can’t get along: too many of them want their side to “win”, even if it’s in the best interest of the country to compromise and agree. Instead, we get politicians blocking bills because the other side came up with the idea. Then the other ones block their bills to get even.
And then when they do give in a little, many politicians try to claim “victory” for their side. Because claiming victory when agreeing to pass a law to help the American people is so adult.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Simple

Even outside of Congress when many Republicans say they support net neutrality they redefine net neutrality as meaning “not restricting corporate interests.”

I’m reminded of some supposed supporters of “freedom” in the days of slavery redefining “true freedom” as being “the freedom to own slaves.”

Yeah, I don’t think so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Fairness Doctrine / Campaign Finance

I blame the Fairness Doctrine and its advocates for this problem, along with some of the Campaign Finance “reform” advocates. Although they failed, I think their heavy-handed tactics left a lurking suspicion that the government cannot involve itself in speech-related issues without inevitably abusing its power to promote one faction’s speech to the detriment of others.

We saw a related form of this with the more recent, and also failed, attempts to plant FCC (or was it FEC?) staff in newsrooms. The regulatory interest there was tangential at best, but someone thought they could get away with it, so they tried it. The public outcry forced that one down. The Fairness Doctrine and the FCC/FEC stunt were mostly Democrat constructs, so the Republicans are the ones suspicious of another attempt. Campaign Finance reform was more about squashing outsiders than about promoting D or R. I don’t doubt that if the establishment Republicans figured out a good way to do speech suppression, we’d hear plenty of screaming from the Democrats, and with good cause.

In the meantime, the inaccurate but inevitable suspicion that net neutrality equals speech regulation will continue to hurt the cause. That may also explain the graph, where presenting the question purely in terms of cost structure diverts the respondent from thinking about the speech suppression angle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Take the money out and who supported what would disappear.

You have to have two sides to vacuum in all the money. Having only one side leaves a lot of wallets with cash out there.

This has been the complaint of many that fuel the money wagon. It’s congress’ idea that if you make a crisis you can force the money to come in. One of those ‘give me money’ or else things.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s all about the incentives. It’s clear what the incentives are for congressmen to oppose net neutrality but I can’t think of any incentives of similar strength for them to support net neutrality.

With Obama declaring support for net neutrality, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the battle has been lost.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: In the beginning was the Word [was ]

With Obama declaring…

Why? Why on God’s green earth would Mr Obama’s “declaration” have more influence upon your beliefs —your conclusions— than the President’s actions? Why?

Last November, a year ago, Mr Obama nominated Mr Wheeler for chairman of the FCC. Mr Wheeler’s background as a telecom lobbyist was known to everyone. Mr Obama’s act in submitting that nomination was a Presidential action.

And here you are a year later, intimating that it’s the Presidential words that lead you towards—your conclusion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: In the beginning was the Word [was ]

The partisan bullshit means that whatever Obama supports, the Republicans will fight. So when he calls for net neutrality, that pretty much guarantees that the Republicans will respond by making sure the FCC doesn’t do anything that can be construed as net neutrality.

I believe Obama knows this and that’s why he declared his support for net neutrality. It’s a gift to his telecom backers. You’re right that if Obama really wanted to balance the needs of the public against those of the telecom industry, he would never have appointed Wheeler.

Kent says:

Forcing Freedom?

You cannot pretend to be a champion of liberty by supporting policies that deny service providers the liberty to run their business as they please. The poll uses cheap tactics “Support ISPs charging more for certain sites?” The question only SUPPORTS deregulation of ISPs. It effectively tells us that ~85% of consumers would not give their business to an ISP that charged more for certain sites. Great! Sounds like ISPs will stay in business if they don’t restrict access to any internet sites. If they try to restrict certain sites 85% of their users will be unhappy and many will likely go to the competitor that doesn’t restrict access. That unpopular ISP then goes out of business – that’s far worse punishment than simply making them do what you want (regulation) – they won’t even exist! Voluntary exchange (read market forces) are more powerful than politicians and parties. Leave people and their businesses alone. Organic demand will create desired supply invariably. “Net neutrality” is just another way to oppress natural and voluntary exchange. Leave it alone – government is bloated enough.

MikeSoja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Forcing Freedom?

Because forcing a heavy Internet user to pay proportionally more than grandma checking her facebook twice a day is akin to cotton picking fun times in the old South?

No, Kent is right, out of almost everyone else here.

I start with the premise that the FCC is an illegitimate blight on the freedom of the citizenry from its beginning. Debating the ins and outs of sundry FCC endeavors is like debating whether the slaves should be fed potatoes or corn.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Forcing Freedom?

“Because forcing a heavy Internet user to pay proportionally more than grandma checking her facebook twice a day is akin to cotton picking fun times in the old South?”

Except that’s not at all what net neutrality is about, no matter how much you guys try to twist it around to be so.

“No, Kent is right, out of almost everyone else here.”

Hey, You Go Kent was just agreeing with you guys!

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Forcing Freedom?

“Because forcing a heavy Internet user to pay proportionally more than grandma checking her facebook twice a day”

Nice job misrepresenting what net neutrality is all about!

It has nothing to do with paying for the bandwidth you use. Literally everybody is OK with that notion, and that is, in fact, how things have always worked.

MikeSoja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Forcing Freedom?

“It has nothing to do with paying for the bandwidth you use.”

Of course it does. The crunch may take place UP one or two levels from my use but it’s the same argument.

Why the hell would I want the FCC to attempt to sort it out?

They know less what I want than Comcast does.

At least I can choose Comcast or not. In today’s world I can’t choose FCC or not.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Forcing Freedom?

No, it’s absolutely not the same argument. At all.

Net neutrality is about ensuring that bandwidth and access is allocated and charged for without regard to who exactly it is that’s using it, not according to how much.

Internet usage at every level has always been charged according to the amount of usage. Nobody disagrees with that notion, and net neutrality doesn’t affect it.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Forcing Freedom?

go to the competitor

What competitor?
>80% of Americans are limited to at best, 2 broadband options, both of which act in nearly identical ways.
There. Is. No. Choice.

That unpopular ISP then goes out of business

When the unpopular ISP is a monopoly, and ISP service is a necessity, it won’t go out of business.

If ISPs don’t want to be regulated, then they need to promote competition in actions (not press releases) and stop doing everything in their power to stop it. No more laws stopping cities from building their own options. No more wink wink nods at non-competing over customers. On the other hand, if ISPs want to be monopolies – just like the utility providers they are – then they damn well are going to be regulated. No having their cake and eating it, too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Forcing Freedom?

“What competitor?”

Exactly

The market forces bullshit only works in a competitive market where there are – what for it … forces! In a monopoly there is one force, and that is the one with their hands in your pockets. And don’t claim there are several ISPs to choose from because that is simply not true. Many places there is only one choice and those with more see little to no competition, there are just several wolves drooling over what is for dinner.

I suspect that Kent is delusional.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Enforcing accountability

You cannot pretend to be a champion of liberty by supporting policies that deny service providers the liberty to run their business as they please.

You can if those same businesses have been taking massive government subsidies to install and upgrade their networks(theoretically), and then doing everything they possibly can to not have to hold up their end of the bargain.

But hey, tell you what, if the various telecom companies are willing to repay the billions of taxpayer dollars that they’ve been given over the years, as well as repaying a fair price(determined by an independent third party) for all the extra ‘perks’ they’ve been given for their networks, then I’ll agree that the government has no business dictating what they are allowed to do. Sound fair?

Until then, those billions were supposed to have strings attached, it’s about time they were used.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Forcing Freedom?

A teenager with a copy of the Cliff’s Notes for The Fountainhead couldn’t have put it any better!

You know Rand had a name for these captains of industry who were always clamoring for favorable laws to be passed and subsidies from taxpayers? She called them “moochers”, and she was no fan of them.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure there really are. Do you have some links to examples?

I have seen a lot of good-reasoned opposition to using Title II for Net Neutrality, but even the telcos that don’t want Net Neutrality rules are mostly arguing that they “would never do that” rather than “it’s ok for us to throttle specific services when they will not pay us as much”.

Oh, and name calling does not help your argument as much as you think it does here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here is a link

http://www.fcc.gov/

This organization has essentially ensured Telco Monopolies… while I think it is generally a good idea for ISP to be Title II, why do you think this will fix it?

The responsibility for convincing should always remain on the shoulders of those who want/ask and never those against! Not saying this is fair, but more fair than the other way around sadly.

Rosco P Coltrane (profile) says:

The real problem

I support the idea that broadband service providers should not be allowed to slow the connection to any site.

That is all I support.

I don’t understand how anyone could support placing the regulation of the entire internet in the hands of the corrupt FCC. It will be done ostensibly only to support this one small issue, that BTW doesn’t even exist as a real problem yet.

It is not worth it. What we will get will be a strangling collection of regulations that destroy the internet. At best the bloated bureaucracy will just produce tons of thoughtless regulations because that’s what they are good at. At worst they will use the opportunity to purposefully screw us.

The best solution is to leave the internet unregulated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The real problem

“that BTW doesn’t even exist as a real problem yet.”

Apparently you have not kept up with the news for some time then.
– Netflix gave in to the Verizon extortion demands – ring a bell?

“strangling collection of regulations that destroy the internet”

Any examples? How about a study that supports the claim. Or is just an opinion?

“The best solution is to leave the internet unregulated.”

So that ISPs can foist upon the public their version of the internet. Worked out well for AOL now didn’t it? Oh, you want access to Google? – that will be 9.99 per month extra. We have an upgrade package that includes Bing also! Act now and we will include access to your favorite main stream media website at no additional cost for a period not to exceed one year if you renew your two year contract. Offer subject to limitations, while supplies last.

rebrad (profile) says:

Not Another Government Operation

Based on the actions of the US Government, State Governments and/or International Organizations I would find it hard to trust any political organization to enforce or run net neutrality.

Until we have a Bill of Internet Rights it doesn’t matter because whatever the moneyed want they will get while the user will have no choice but to bend over if they don’t want to be labeled Criminal Terrorist.

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