Quick. What’s the most important political trend of the past few months?
Bet you didn’t say the resurgance of the Internet-empowered left.
The dogfight between Romney and Santorum got all the media oxygen, followed more recently by endless nonsense about whether Obama (who once ate dog meat) or Romney (who strapped his dog to the car-roof on a family trip) was the worse offender in the “war on dogs.”
But step back and consider this impressive string of victories by progressives:
1) No SOPA for You!
The horrible “anti-piracy” bill that Republicans and corporate-friendly Democrats thought was a slam dunk was blocked at the rim by an ad hoc coalition of Big Tech and progressive-minded Internet users everywhere, nauseated by a law that would make everyday Internet activities illegal and punish illicit downloading with the kind of prison sentences usually reserved for manslaughter. The mass rebellion forced congress to turn tail and run.
2) Curing Komen’s Cancerous Politics
The Susan G. Komen foundation, the previously non-partisan breast cancer-fighting pink-ribbon mega charity hired as its top lobbyist the Tea Partying former secretary of state of Georgia, who promptly pulled the plug on Komen’s funding of Planned Parenthood, which provides, among other things, breast-cancer screening to low-income women. The Twittersphere ripped Komen to pink shreds, forcing the resignation of Komen’s right-wing VP of Public Policy and Planned Parenthood’s removal from the funding blacklist.
3) Busting Rush
After Rush Limbaugh called a pro-contraception law student a slut and demanded she provide pornographic video of herself in exchange for federally funded birth control, progressives mounted an Internet- and Twitter- shame campaign that prompted more than 20 adversisers to abandon the talk-show host, and even brought El Rushbo himself to apologize – twice!
4) Shaming ALEC
The same tactics that brought Rush to his knees have just this week forced ALEC — a corporate-backed bill mill that writes right-wing legislation for passage by Republican-led state legislatures — to abandon its efforts to influence social policy. In addition to advancing trickle-down economic policies, ALEC had been pivotal in the passage of Stand-Your-Ground gun laws accross the country, like the one currently at the center of the Trayvon Martin court case. ALEC had also railroaded legislation in numerous states to restrict voting rights of the young people, poor people, and minorities. Pressure brought by the Internet Left forced Coca Cola, McDonalds, Kraft and others to withdraw from the group, and forced ALEC to stick to its economic knitting:
“We are eliminating the ALEC Public Safety and Elections task force that dealt with non-economic issues,” the group announced in a press release, “and reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy.”
Each of these victories underscores the lost opportunity of the Obama presidency. The president never used his massive Internet-enabled activist base to seriously engage on his top legislative priorities. Obama’s movement, likened at the end of the 2008 election as a many-million mouthed dog, was kept on leash.
That dog could have hunted; these unlikely lefty victories prove it. Progressive voices amplified through Internet activism can force congress to turn on a dime and prompt major corporations to abandon long and profitable relationships with the the most prominent and abusive figures and institutions on the right.
The president, if he’s fortunate enough to gain reelection, should take note.