The Candidates And Technology
With a nearly impenetrable wall of opposition from a socially irresponsible corporate media, obsessed with the ratings numbers the Trump Freak Show brings in, and with the inclination to rally around the establishment-- from MSNBC's Chris Matthews' non-stop promotion of Hillary over Bernie to the NY Times obvious willingness to bed-down with their pals at the Clinton campaign-- yesterday wasn't a great day for Bernie's campaign. No one expected wins in Florida or North Carolina, but Ohio's steep loss (56.5- 42.8%) wasn't encouraging. Almost have the delegates have been allocated now. 50.53% to go-- and, hopefully, Bernie will fight her for every last one of them.
Any TV news talk about Hillary's Theranos fundraiser hosted by the spectacularly failed company's CEO and Hillary's daughter Chelsea? None that I saw. "One of Clinton’s primary liabilities in her race against Bernie Sanders is the perception that she is overly friendly with corrupt corporate interests. So it's pretty bizarre that she has decided to have a (reportedly) corrupt corporation host her next big fund-raiser. And it’s only one of several unforced errors the campaign has made since last Friday; not on TV= never happened.
A few weeks ago Bloomberg reporter Sasha Issenberg noted that behind Bernie's political revolution there is a meticulously engineered grassroots network whose organizational roots go right back to the methods and strategies of the Howard Dean campaign... but without the fatal pitfalls.
Sunday Micah Sifry, writing for The Nation reported on how Bernie's campaign is reinventing the use of technology in politics and-- again-- it's all about grassroots organizing (rather than data). "Ever since the Bernie Sanders campaign gathered more than 100,000 supporters in 3,500 events on one night in July 2015," he wrote, "it’s been clear that the senator from Vermont was building a massive base for his upstart push for the presidency. By the end of the year, it had generated more than 2.5 million contributions to his campaign, topping the 2.1 million tallied at the same point by incumbent President Barack Obama during his re-election bid. That juggernaut has continued to expand, with another 2.5 million contributions since the beginning of 2016." Smart phones, social networking through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are helping to generate massive amounts of online engagement outside traditional campaign structures... Sanders has about 165 Facebook pages with 7.3 million likes, and nearly 200 Facebook groups with more than 358,000 members; Clinton’s numbers are roughly half that. The question for campaigns today: how to rapidly absorb and deploy the energy of volunteers as effectively as possible."
Monday, Sam Thielman reported that tech activists who analyzed each presidential candidate's platform as well as their debate stands and stump speeches see Bernie's tech-savvy campaign as the best hope in affecting citizens’ digital lives... while Trump's, predictably enough, is the most dismal.
The issues at hand are pressing: censorship, industry consolidation and mass surveillance are among policy positions Free Press opposes. The group is in favor of net neutrality, strong encryption, inexpensive internet access and local broadband competition.
Trump hasn’t weighed in at all on complex policy topics like cable provider consolidation or public programs to enable internet access, but everywhere he has offered comment, it’s been to the disappointment of Free Press analysts. He is generally against reforming the Patriot Act, in favor of censorship, opposed to Apple’s appeal of the FBI’s order to weaken iPhone security and has seemed to believe that net neutrality would "target conservative media."
But simple ignorance is a problem that crosses party lines, said Karr, and it’s an acute one in a country where net neutrality and anti-surveillance activism have crossed those lines as well. “We think that there’s a constituency out there, what we call the internet voter, that has already demonstrated his or her passion on this issue,” Karr said.
“More than 10 million people got involved protesting the Pipa [the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act] and Sopa [the Stop Online Piracy Act] legislation,” he said.
“The candidates by and large haven’t caught up with this new constituency.”
The encryption issue notwithstanding, Sanders is the major exception; Hillary Clinton got low marks on surveillance and censorship, though she is still preferable to all her Republican opponents, according to the group. “You’re going to hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, etc,” she is quoted as saying on the topic of censorship. “But if we truly are in a war ... we’ve got to shut off their means of communicating.”
There are scattered exceptions across the Republican spectrum: Cruz was one of just four U.S. senators to support the rollback of surveillance measures in the Patriot Act, and Rubio backed legislation to expand internet access.
But overall, Karr said, he thought the Republican refusal to break ranks on tech policy was far out of step with the electorate. “Senators Cruz and Rubio both added their names to a bill that would rescind the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality ruling, but they tend to ignore polling data that shows that net neutrality has broad bipartisan support,” Karr said. “In fact, a majority of people who identify as Republican voters say they support the principles of net neutrality.
“There’s a difference between what these politicians are saying and what their voting base believes.”