For many Donald Trump voters, voting for Trump was the ultimate act of chopping off their nose to spite their face. It’s hard to top voting for someone so openly calloused and removed from their struggles because of racism and false promises. So Trump supporters reaction to net neutrality protests probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Many Trump supporters took to Twitter to deride a policy that is inherently conservative, very much in line with their views and very much rooted in competition of the free market. Despite that many Republicans found themselves opposed to net neutrality, all because it was championed by Barack Obama.
Just a few years ago when Barack Obama seemed to waiver on net neutrality and many conservatives found themselves attacking him for “allowing government to pick the winners and losers of the internet.” Eventually Obama buckled and his FCC imposed net neutrality, which for a time seemed like a fairly rare bipartisan win. Now many of those who steadfastly criticized Obama for his failure to support Net Neutrality are cheering on Trump as he tears it down. All because it is one more piece of the Obama legacy. Even if it’s one their criticism helped create.
This is just one more incident added to a long list of Republican opposition based solely on something being Obama’s policy, not on the merits of the policy outcomes, or even the ideological underpinnings of a given policy. The same reflex can be seen in the Republicans response to the Affordable Care Act, which began as a Heritage Foundation idea and was first implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. The idea that net neutrality is a government takeover of the internet in anyway is ridiculous. Especially considering to repeal net neutrality would be to fundamentally retool a significant portion of the FCC and essentially place the fate of the internet in the hands of incredibly unpopular and unresponsive private companies.
Sadly the repeal of net neutrality would perfectly represent the modus operandi of the modern Republican Party. A party that exists to serve its corporate interests while throwing symbolic red meat to its base in the form of culture war chest beating. Unfortunately a large part of the culture war on the right has become rejecting multiculturalism and Obama clearly represents a new and more diverse America. One which the Republican Party has done basically nothing but reject for the better part of a decade. So rejecting everything Obama accomplished despite the merits has become commonplace and in doing so the Republicans have created a disgusting level of animosity that is tearing our country apart.
Any clear headed assessment of net neutrality shows a policy which basically every American should agree with in principle. Unfortunately one of the biggest principles on the right at the moment is rejecting Obama and anything that came with him. At all costs. Even, inherently conservative minded policy directed at utilizing the free market such as the ACA and Net Neutrality. If Republican lawmakers were being honest with their constituents on net neutrality and what it represents, they would almost certainly stand by Obama era FCC guidelines.
Congress knows how their constituents feel about their cable company because it’s the only institution in the country disdained almost as much as congress. There aren’t too many grassroots groups popping up, organizing to give Comcast, Spectrum, or Verizon more power. Republican lawmakers aren’t being told to give carriers more control over how customers use their data. Which is exactly why Republicans billed net neutrality as a government takeover of people’s data in the first place, it’s the only way to sell their opposition to a policy Americans otherwise support pretty much unanimously.
The fact is, there aren’t too many people clamoring to give their cable company or cell phone company more of a say on how and why they use the internet. There are a pretty significant number of Americans already tired of inadequate services for high prices, offered by cable monopolies with limited local competition. Opposing net neutrality would do exactly the opposite of what is needed to solve that problem. However Republicans don’t seem too interested in solving their constituents problems, even worse their constituents don’t seem to mind, so long as they feel like they are sticking it to Barack Obama.
Unfortunately for us all Republicans have somehow turned net neutrality into yet another vote on Obama and his legacy, so don’t be surprised when Republican voters once again gleefully cheer as their right to a free and open internet is stripped away.