A constant problem in a de facto two-party political system is determining which issues are make-or-break issues, the issues that will force one to desert a party (or switch to the other party). If you haven’t heard the Republican Study Committee, the far-right House caucus, recently released a white paper arguing for changes in copyright law, some of which are actually pretty good. Of course, the RSC pulled the white paper less than 24 hours later, because the only entity more aligned with large corporate interests than the Democratic Party is the Republican Party.
In response to the Repubicans’ renouncing the paper, Techdirt wrote the following (boldface mine):
The idea that this was published “without adequate review” is silly. Stuff doesn’t just randomly appear on the RSC website. Anything being posted there has gone through the same full review process. What happened, instead, was that the entertainment industry’s lobbyists went crazy, and some in the GOP folded.
Frankly, if they wanted to win back the youth vote, this was exactly how not to do it. If you just look through the comments on our post on the original, or through the Twitter response to this report, there were tons of people — many of whom were lifelong Democrats — claiming that they would switch parties if the GOP stuck with this. Instead, they folded like a cheap card table in less than 24 hours.
In the long run, that’s going to hurt the GOP, because the people who were suddenly interested in supporting the GOP will assume that any such effort is subject to a similar bait-and-switch.
Admittedly, Techdirt’s readers are very focused on this issue. But, by the paper’s own admission, it’s not entirely clear what the economic effects of this legislation will be, other than to weaken a donor base that is friendly towards Democrats. Yes, the silly patent explosion is ridiculous (Apple recently patented the page turning skeumorphic thingee), as are increasingly long exclusivity periods for published work and movies. But I’m not sure a boom in techno mashups is going to lead the charge on job creation. Just a hunch, but I could be wrong. Seriously, this could lead to an App store situation, where most creators can’t earn a living (keep in mind, many of the other RSC ideas have also been somewhat divorced from reality, albeit very idealistic from a certain perspective. Their track record is less than impressive).
But policy considerations aside, what I find hard to believe is that a life-long Democrat would switch parties over this. Someone is really going to jettison their positions on Medicare, Social Security, abortion and birth control, environmentalism, gay rights, and a whole host of other issues over patents, especially when the effects of the proposed changes, good and bad, are unknown? Not that the Democrats have been great on that list of issues (regular readers will know my opinions about that), but they are better most of the time (which is too often damning with faint praise). Should Grandma eat catfood (that is, weaken Social Security) so we can have patent reform? If you’re a young person, sex is part of your life (hopefully). Birth control, abortion are kinda important.
You have to be pretty damn privileged to be able to afford that position.
It seems the real impetus isn’t to attract younger voters, but to peel off some tech money and political support or force Democrats to antagonize Hollywood and the music studios.