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I seriously contemplated joining the nationwide protest against internet censorship by blacking out my blog for a day. As far as I understand them, the SOPA and PIPA bills are flawed bills, which, like most congressionally mandated regulation, necessitate huge unwieldy compliance requirements. This benefits giant corporations (which can afford whole wings of lawyers, testers, and bureaucrats) while effectively crushing smaller players. As a toy manufacturer, I recognize this strategy!
However there is a self-crucifying element to today’s internet strike which reminds me of melodramatic high school logic: “If adversaries want to hurt me or take advantage of me, then I’ll hurt myself worse!” Yeah, that’ll show ‘em.
So instead of blacking out my site, I am advocating a more direct strategy. All American voters should utilize our democracy more intelligently and simply vote against all incumbents this year. I know that most of my American readers are somberly nodding their heads and thinking, “That’s right, everyone else should vote out the crooked elected officials whom they have stupidly chosen…but not me. My elected officials are greedy and self-serving–but they do look after this district and they are better than the alternatives.” This article summarizes how most American voters feel exactly that way. Argh!
To illustrate my point, here is an anecdote involving my grandmother, who is one of the toughest & most all-American mavericks I know. Grandma ran a bar in the small wild town in West Virginia where my family is from. She kept a .357 under the bar and a profane quip on the tip of her tongue and generally exemplified all-American concepts of personal freedom.
When I was in high school I remember talking with Grandma about the county sheriff of that era. Grandma thought the sheriff was both incompetent and crooked. She gave me a long (and compelling) list of reasons to believe these claims. Appalled, I inquired how the sheriff obtained his job. She said he was elected! Problem solved!
“Just vote against him, Grandma,” I earnestly advised.
“That’s impossible!” she snapped.
“Well is the other guy even more corrupt?” I asked (my mind boggling at the concept of such a bad cop).
“No, he’s a republican,” she replied.
Just fill in the blanks differently and that is how everyone feels. We have all been carefully districted and gerrymandered into such a shape that it is almost impossible for the candidate from the other party to win in your district. It’s supremely difficult for a lot of us to even think about voting for the other candidate. But if we all did we would suddenly have a congress full of socially progressive republicans and fiscally conservative democrats
I don’t know a great deal about my current congressional incumbent, Yvette Clarke, because I just moved. All I can say is it looks like she takes most of her donations from public sector unions, lawyers’ associations, and health care professionals and…you know what, that’s enough for me. I want her out. And I have long disliked New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer–his staffers never even wrote back to me about toy legislation. They could have at least sent me a photo and a sticker (although both NY Senators just got reelected in 2010 so it’ll be a while before I can vote against him again). Courageously join me! You don’t have to shut down your website. Just vote against whoever is in office during the election of 2012. Most elected officials probably don’t even know what an internet is, but they have heard of voters. We’ll have internet freedom in no time flat. Or even better, we’ll be free of the wretched clowns who are ruining the country.