By Wambui Gatheru, Citizen Empowerment Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Next week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on repealing internet neutrality rules that serve all of us who use this platform to connect, innovate, and stimulate the economy. So, why get rid of a good thing? Because a handful of giant corporations - the internet service providers (ISP) - have run a massive lobbying campaign, including the donation of an estimated $101 million dollars to sitting members of congress from 1989-2017.
Internet neutrality is the principle that telecommunication companies, like Time Warner or Verizon, should treat all internet traffic equally. Net neutrality protects Americans’ internet access from being manipulated for corporate gain. For example, without net neutrality a phone company could interfere with an internet phone service, like Skype or FaceTime, by dropping calls through purposely manipulated internet service. Or a cable company may want to slow down services such as Netflix or Hulu that compete with traditional television. In both cases, Americans lose choices, businesses and the economy suffers so a few giant corporations can extract unearned profits.
Now the rules for the internet, like taxes, the environment, healthcare and almost everything else are being written by those with the most money and the voices and needs of the people count for little. The Supreme Court has granted corporations and billionaires extraordinary power. By allowing corporations to use money as “speech” to corrupt our political process, these telecommunication companies have made their voices loud and clear to Congress - to all 535 voting members to be exact. All current members of Congress have gotten a piece of the $101 million dollars ISPs have donated in the past 28 years.
A survey conducted by the nonpartisan polling organization, University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation and Voice of the People, found that 83% of Americans do not approve of the FCC's proposal. Similarly, the poll found that 3 out of 4 Republicans oppose the repeal. However, this overwhelming majority of Americans of all political stripes have been locked out of the conversation.The ISPs have taken advantage of the concept of money as corporate speech to write increasingly large checks to influence law-makers and drown out the voices of Americans.
Such blatant corruption and disregard for democracy is only possible because of a series of bad Supreme Court and lower court rulings. The only way to repair trust in our institutions, combat systemic corruption and secure political equality for all Americans is to overturn the Supreme Court and amend the U.S. Constitution with a 28th Amendment.
The 28th Amendment replaces the dominating political influence of big money with the effective influence of the people—forever. Without the 28th Amendment, corporations’ influence on our elected officials goes unchecked and voice of the people goes unheard. The fight for democracy through crosspartisan collaboration for equal citizenship and a government responsive to people, begins with the 28th Amendment. Don’t just get mad, get even. Join the fight for the 28th Amendment today.