“Republican House Shifting Tech Focus From Antitrust To Censorship, More Investigations.”
“More investigations.” That was the headline last week from Sinclair’s National Desk, making it official: The Republicans of the 118th Congress intend to do precisely jack all to effectively rein in the most powerful companies the world has ever seen, and by extension, will do precisely jack all to rein in their abuses.
But maybe “jack all” is not a fair descriptor: They will, after all, hold hearings on censorship by private companies in collusion with the left-wingers in the federal government. They’ll give speeches in those hearings, bang the gavel, and berate Silicon Valley executives over Zoom, or maybe even in person. Congressman Jim Jordan will take off his sportcoat and give totally true speeches about the un-American abuses of power taking place in America’s tech industry.
Then he and his colleagues will go on Fox News to talk about it. They’ll fundraise off what they said on TV. The fundraisers will make good money, too, because people care about this issue. “Donate now to get more viral clips of us ‘owning the libs.’”
“Send more money for more investigations.”
Republicans love investigations. Remember Benghazi? How about Hillary Clinton’s servers? Or Fast and Furious — the one about that time President Barack Obama’s attorney general funneled weapons to Mexican cartels to help score a propaganda win against legal American gun owners. That doozy ended up with a mass murder at a children’s birthday party, a slain Border Patrol agent named Brian Terry, and countless other cartel atrocities. What it did not end with is Attorney General Eric Holder in prison. Rather, when his boss left office a few years later he bragged about his “scandal-free administration.”
That’s alright, though; the investigations dragged on, TV appearances abounded, celebrities were made, and campaign money was minted.
It’s no surprise we’re in for a repeat episode this time around. No one expected a Republican leader from California to take the lead against Big Tech, and Jordan’s office has been staffed by Silicon Valley defenders for years. When men like Sen. Josh Hawley and Rep. Ken Buck fought for the American Innovation and Choice Online Act this summer and fall, they knew it was the last game in town: A Republican majority would be too afraid of appearing hostile toward Big Business to tackle Big Tech on their own, and Democrat minorities are notoriously disciplined in their unwillingness to help when out of power.
Voters, however, should recognize the theater for what it is. It’s the reality of where the Republican Party stands today. GOP lawmakers have learned to talk like conservative populists, decrying the abuses of Big Business, but when Big Businesses, say, mandate unproven and dangerous medical procedures for employees or customers, they shrug and mutter something impugning Reagan. The message: The government should defend its citizens, unless it’s against Big Business.
The same goes for Big Tech, for those companies doing business with the Chinese, for private universities that take foreign dollars and place spies in key sectors of science, technology, and even defense. Republicans are brave enough to talk about it; doing anything, however, wouldn’t be conservative.
Google may not have the army the East India Company once marched, but it controls the flow of information across the planet — and uses that power to muffle dissent on everything from politics to medicine to science.
Amazon may not have the navy the East India Company once sailed, but it dominates American commerce, ripping off and undercutting small businesses through self-preferencing and other shady practices.
The app stores might not rule the Raj, but they control what products (and thereby, content) is allowed on our cell phones; who can ping us, buzz in our pockets, and command our immediate attention — and who cannot.
These companies have again and again demonstrated a total willingness to crush competition and dissent; to answer that monopolistic aggression with “more investigations” is to show who really rules the United States (and it ain’t the people).
Politicians rarely lead; they follow. Voters and activists, writers and thinkers, however, have the ability to lead them — or at least push them — in the right direction. We can indeed expect jack all on Big Tech from this Republican Congress; the only thing that could change it is if those Republicans can’t count on us to buy tickets to the theater any longer.