As Democrats and moderate conservatives like myself rejoice that Mitt Romney didn’t get a chance to wreck America again as Bush Administration II, let’s take some time to look at what might have been, what’s yet to come, and what we’re going to do about it.
There is no doubt in my mind that a Romney win would have been a disaster for America. He had picked many members of the same team for his cabinet as G.W. Bush had for his, and they were pushing the same policies, namely tax cuts for the rich and a huge increase in military spending. Mitt’s mate John Lehman had even set the wheels in motion for a fleet of new war ships for the navy, even though invasive land wars are increasingly becoming obsolete. Needless to say, he would have made a mint (again!) from plundering the public purse in the name of protecting the nation by providing it with items it simply doesn’t need. Fiscally prudent? Pull the other leg, it’s got bells on!
Americans are preoccupied with the fiscal cliff, when the stimulus and the Bush era tax cuts come to an end. Apparently, this is a good thing because Congress is going to have to work with the President this time around in order to avoid a new recession caused by a sudden increase in taxes and cuts in spending. Since they can’t deny him a third term due to term limits, they’ve got nothing to lose by working with him to sort out the economy this time around. Don’t count on it, though. Many of the far right Congressmen and women have been voted back into office and we’re stuck with them till the mid term elections.
The Republican Party will hopefully implode and be replaced by reasonable representatives. This needs to happen because people who ignore facts they find inconvenient are neither amenable to reason nor open to persuasion. If we’re going to get the changes we want, we need progressives and moderates to effect the changes in the laws that maintain the copyright and patent monopolies that are stifling innovation by restricting it to those who hold the most broadly-written registration documents. The rightward march of American politics has denied the public interest as a collectivist/progressive/left wing (and therefore easily dismissed) issue. Since the libertarian-right wing of the Republican Party is all about extending and enforcing property rights as a bastion of freedom, they were happy to attach those values to notions of ideas as property, which created the tropes of intellectual property, usage as consumption, and infringement as theft. It’s a waste of time to try to explain to them how things were before and how they have changed even in the last thirty years because they dismiss contradictions of their political narrative as liberal fiction (so they’re not obliged to pay any attention to or engage with it) and they don’t appreciate “interference” from outsiders, i.e. non-Americans like me. We’ve still got a Republican Congress, though, and they still think like that. If the party implodes, we might be able to reason with whoever is still standing afterwards. It’ll probably be the mid-term elections when Congressional elections are held again that we’re able to effect the changes we want in US law where notions of property rights over creative output are concerned.
What do we do?
There’s also the matter of digital freedom to consider. Efforts to put us all under surveillance to protect us from the Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse are ongoing, not to mention censorship and the plan to enact a quasi-religious authoritarian global internet regime. This is being attempted from multiple directions, including trade agreements, domestic laws, and ISP policy changes as part of a “voluntary” code. Net neutrality and reform of those laws that are usually deliberately bundled together by lobbyists as “intellectual property” are high on the list of what we need to achieve. Momentum and the weight of history is on our side. Internet and real life activism has brought down SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, ACTA, and the Cybersecurity Act 2012. Other unfair laws have been kicked into touch or revised, including censorship efforts in Arizona, USA, and the Philippines. There is much to be done and if we have the will and the numbers to do it, we will prevail.