The title of a recent arstechnica article screams incredulously that Ajit Pai is getting a new full term as FCC Chair, despite the net neutrality protests. Shocking! Well, apart from to anyone who has been following the political circus that is the FCC for the last five years or so.
Readers of my recent article on the FCC ignoring pro-net neutrality arguments won't be so surprised about Pai being rewarded with a new term as FCC Chair. Regarding Pai and the GOP position, my piece highlighted the fact that,
"Pai and his cronies don’t give a hoot whether there are a million critical comments or a “bazillion.” This has never been a reasonable, rational debate. It is, and always has been, a political decision made strictly along party lines, based on who occupies the White House. So it was under Obama’s (FCC Chairman) Tom Wheeler, and so it is under Trump’s Pai.”
As such, this ars article is a big ’’nothing-burger,” in Hillary Clinton’s parlance. I mean, why all the fuss? As my September article pointed out, there was an election in 2016. Barack Obama was keen to point out that "elections have consequences,” as he rammed through a plethora of executive orders, all the while giving the finger to the Republican-controlled Congress.
No, I can pretty much assure you that the net neutrality issue won’t be on voters' minds when the Congressional elections roll around. By the next presidential election in 2020, it won’t be an issue even for the pro-net neutrality crowd (even if they are vindicated in their ire). They are already in the solidly anti-Republican column and will be mobilized to oppose the new GOP bogeyman. Next year, and by 2020 for certain, the electorate will be focused on the next great issue of the day. The economy comes to mind; it's always the tipping-point for elections.
If politicians understand anything, they know about elections and self-preservation. Right now, with the volatile, combative and unpredictable Donald Trump at the helm, Republicans are still reading the tea leaves and seeing which way the wind is blowing. Thus it’s not surprising that all 52 Republicans, their majority, voted strictly along party lines to confirm Pai’s new term. Likely to get similar disdain and a deaf ear from Republicans, therefore, is the "fire FCC Chairman Ajit Pai" petition from consumer advocacy group Free Press. The outraged emasculated, adrift, and damaged Democrats won’t hold any sway either. As I opined back in September,
“Rest assured, if the party designation of the Oval office occupant changes in 2020, 2024 or whenever, so will the control of the FCC, and so will the net neutrality rules. This is likely to happen even if the repeal leads to success for all involved and the sky doesn’t fall, as the pro-net neutrality crowd predicts. Net neutrality will come under stress again because it can since it most likely won’t have been codified by law – only by decree.”
That’s the way it was back in 2015 under the auspices of the Obama administration and, incidentally, will always be, unless Congressional action takes the place of executive actions as under Obama and now, Trump. However, if the White House does change hands in a few years, you can expect the Republicans to rail at the assuredly different FCC again dominated by Democrats.
You won’t hear as much about the grumbling in arstechnica or other such portals, digital or otherwise. At least not until the worm turns again in the next election cycle. Then, rest assured the brickbats will be hurled from a different direction. Such is politics and political discourse nowadays. As usual, the voice of the ordinary citizen is going unheard by politicians, regardless of stripe - that is, unless you pony up the big bucks to get their attention.
Opinions are the writer's own.