The controversial anti-piracy legislation that set off an unprecedented wave of opposition from the technology sector is withering on the vine, with additional Members of Congress withdrawing support for the bills on an almost hourly basis.
What’s interesting is that of the over 30 Members who have recently come out in opposition to the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the vast majority have been Republicans, who have long been considered the stodgy side of the aisle when compared to their tech-savvy Democratic counterparts. While the tech world, who Dems claim to support at every turn, aggressively protests SOPA and PIPA, the very officials they helped to elect – including Democratic party leaders – have abandoned them in the face of their most important issue: internet privacy.
The word on the Hill that in the past 24-hours alone Sens. Rubio, Cornyn, Hatch, DeMint, Kirk, Grassley, Blunt, Boozman, and Ayotte have all come out in opposition of PIPA, with several among them withdrawing their original co-sponsorship of the legislation. What do these nine Senators have in common? They’re all Republicans.
Even within individual states the divisions don’t make sense; New Hampshire’s junior Senator Kelly Ayotte withdrew her co-sponsorship and support for PIPA citing overwhelming constituent opposition, whereas Democratic senior Senator Jeanne Shaheen has remained on board. Did New Hampshire voters somehow reach out to Ayotte to register their disapproval but leave Shaheen out of the loop? Unlikely.
The tech industry has shown that they are united on the issue and won’t hesitate to take drastic action, including spending real money in 2012, but Democrats seem to feel no obligation to the industry. With big name unions like the Teamsters and AFL-CIO backing SOPA and PIPA, as well as the Hollywood elite, Democrats clearly understand the position they would be in if they somehow abandoned these most ardent financiers – enough even to abandon their most ardent supporters. Young voters and the tech industry, who hail Democrats as the Party of Tech would do well to stand up and take notice: they and their lifestyles are not anywhere near as important to their treasured liberal Congressmen as they think they are.
If Democrats – particularly vulnerable incumbents up for reelection, like Ohio’s Sherrod Brown and Florida’s Bill Nelson – don’t get with the message on the overreaching legislation, they’re liable to find themselves out in the cold when it comes time to collect those campaign checks.