The Tech Vote: An Opportunity for Conservatives and the GOP

by Sal on November 27, 2012

in Culture,Technology

As a software engineer by trade, I spend a lot of time reading technology news, interacting with members of the tech community, and hearing their opinions on things.  Leading up to election day, many tech sites got involved in electoral politics by writing about technology issues and by endorsing candidates.  They almost exclusively endorsed Barack Obama and other liberal Democrats, and almost universally shunned Republicans.  Then last week, a strange thing happened.  The Republican Study Committee released a white paper on Copyright reform – an idea near and dear to many members of the tech community – and it received universal praise in the tech press.  The RSC, in a bizarre move, retracted the paper a few hours later, and the tech community reverted to form and went back to criticizing at Republicans for “caving to Hollywood.”   What this incident showed me though is that the tech constituency cares more about issues than party politics, and will support candidates who make sense on technology issues.

The thing about it is, most people involved in the online tech community tend to be more libertarian than liberal.  While they tend to be liberal on social issues (especially gay marriage), they don’t want the government anywhere near the Internet.  The idea of a free and open Internet is sacred to them, and government interference is looked at as inherently bad.  For example, there is currently a movement at the ITU, an arm of the United Nations, to seize control of the Internet.  Organizations such as Google are actively rallying against it, because they know that control of the Internet by UN bureaucrats would stifle the innovation that has been the very engine of growth for the Internet over the past 15 years.  There’s also SOPA, a major power grab by Hollywood, which was defeated this past year largely as a result of tech lobbying and GOP votes.

We won’t agree on everything, but politics is all about coalitions.  There is much that we can agree on, and if the GOP were to adopt a consistent, libertarian-leaning tech policy, it would go a long way towards gaining this constituency.  Besides being a growing voting bloc, it also is influential and could provide resources to the GOP where it currently lacks, such as creating GOTV systems that are far superior to the disastrous ORCA, and using social media to help virally push GOP candidates.  Over the next several weeks, I will outline issues that this constituency cares about, and how the GOP can respond to them in a conservative fashion.  While we as Conservatives will not be able to adopt their entire platform, I really believe that there is much commonality in Conservative thinking and the issues that the tech constituency cares about, and that gaining support from this voting bloc is both possible and essential for the GOP’s future electoral success.

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