Wednesday, March 02, 2011
The Laptop Is Mightier Than The Tank
If the pen is mightier than the sword, the laptop is approaching omnipotence. Instantaneous flow of information changes our world so fast it’s hard to keep up. The power and scope of the internet is enormous and growing. It may have originated with government research decades ago, but it has grown so rapidly because government has had nothing to do with it since. It’s not clear how long that will continue though because we’re witnessing how vulnerable governments are around the world when citizens are informed. Their control over what citizens know or don’t know is diminishing fast.And it’s not just in the Middle East. Two years ago at this time, nobody in the United States ever heard of the Tea Party, but in about eighteen months it virtually took over the US House of Representatives. The United States government, however, is not so vulnerable compared to middle eastern dictatorships. Thanks to the First Amendment, we’ve always had a free press. Americans have been as informed as they wanted to be and our media has tended to keep government relatively honest throughout most of our history. Ours is a government designed to be responsive to the will of its citizenry - especially the US House of Representatives and state houses.
Here the internet threatens the mainstream media, which has become entrenched and complacent with a profound left-of-center bias. Lately, they have tended to protect politicians who share their political perspective, like Bill Clinton and the current White House resident. After wielding their power to depict George W. Bush as a moron and anointing his successor, Barack Obama, as a savior, the mainstream media ignored the Tea Party movement for about six months, then tried to portray it as an angry mob. It grew anyway, however, because the MSM no longer controls what the public knows or doesn’t know.
The New York Times’ motto has been: “All the news that’s fit to print” - the news its editors believed was fit to propagate, that is. Every evening, the alphabet networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC broadcasted pretty much what the Times printed on its front page - no more and no less. Today, however, people can find out whatever they want online and they do. They can also spread that information around to their friends and associates via email and social networks.
So, when Democrat congresspeople went home to their districts in the summer of 2009 and conducted “town hall” gatherings as they always had, they didn’t find the usual sleepy meetings where they could shake hands and renew acquaintances. Citizens had informed themselves about President Obama’s proposed health care bill and they asked questions the representatives could not answer. They knew more about the bill than their representatives did. They recorded congressional ignorance on video and put it on Youtube where it “went viral” as the expression goes, and most of those congresspeople were voted out last November in a conservative, Tea Party tsunami.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi never knew what hit her. She’d heard about the crowds her minions were encountering in their home districts back in 2009. She sensed how nervous they were too, but she insisted those crowds did not represent a grass-roots uprising of concerned citizens as her fellow Democrats suspected. She called the boisterous, town-hall gatherings “astroturf” as if they were rent-a-crowds ginned up by Republicans. Not recognizing that a new political phenomenon was emerging, she thought it was politics as usual and rammed Obamacare through her chamber. She found how wrong her assessment had been when she became the former Speaker of the House.
And it’s not just Congress. The Tea Party voted out governors and state legislatures across America and the new ones have started cutting government in formerly-Democratic enclaves like Wisconsin. The Democrats’ core constituencies - bloated, overpaid, arrogant, out-of-touch government unions are on the ropes and getting pummeled. Union demonstrators are the “astroturf” Pelosi thought she was seeing two years ago. Unions turned out their troops in Wisconsin, Indiana and elsewhere to protest state budget cuts and they were getting paid to do so by taxpayers. Public-sector parasites called in sick at their schools and civil service jobs and had tantrums at state capitols - hoping to keep the taxpayer money-spigot flowing.
Tea Party taxpayers showed up to counter-protest at their own expense. They paid to be there and realized that they were paying for the other side to be there too. They were even paying for the publicly-funded doctors who wrote phony sick notes to shield teachers from accountability in their districts.
Thanks to the internet, the Tea Party understood that they were funding public employees who don’t work as hard as they do, who have more job security than they do, who make more money than they do, who have a better medical plan than they do, who have more generous pension benefits than they do, and who pay less for it all than they do. President Obama supports his public-employee-union constituents and the mainstream media depicts them as sympathetically as possible, but it’s not working the way it used to. Citizens aren’t buying it. Why? They have their own sources of information now.
Old political play books have to be re-written everywhere. The internet is changing everything. The laptop is king.