Last Thursday I wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asking that she not endorse Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) in his effort to become Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet (CTI). The reason is simple — Congressman Rush has been a leading Black voice against net neutrality since 2006, maintaining that net neutrality is a “solution in search of a problem.” The position he seeks to occupy — if his record is any clue — would mean an advantage for corporations and a disadvantage for everyone else when key decisions about the Internet are made.
The Congressman’s response? Avoid everything I’ve said, ignore what more than 60,000 of our members have said, along with that of literally millions of other everyday people across this country. Congressman Rush relies on the fabricated notion that ColorOfChange is “Silicon Valley funded” and “controlled.” I’d like to know what the Congressman means and where he got such a bizarre idea. I personally led a successful protest on behalf of more than 600,000 people in which we called out Google for proposing a framework in collusion with Verizon that would undermine net neutrality — it’s not the kind of thing you do if you’re funded or controlled by Silicon Valley. Further, we don’t have a single major donor representing the interests of tech companies in Silicon Valley — not an individual, a company, or a trade association. Maybe it’s the fact that our offices are in the Bay Area?
The focus should be on our actual respective records and our willingness to engage in honest debate on the issues. Our issue is that Congressman Rush’s record, from his practically unrestricted support for the Comcast-NBCU merger, his support for the COPE Act and his long record of advocacy against a free and open Internet suggest that he is not well-suited to represent Democratic interests in the post he seeks. His claim that net neutrality is “a solution in search of a problem” indicates either 1) a grave lack of understanding of the issue (the major players have a well-documented desire to tier the Internet and they have all worked to undermine the principle), or 2) a level of alignment with AT&T and Verizon (major funders of Congressman Rush) and other major broadband players who have a near-term business interest in undermining net neutrality, which is frankly dangerous for the public interest. Either way, it makes him unsuitable for the post he seeks.
At ColorOfChange, we are uninterested in members of Congress rising based on their relationships or seniority — we are looking to support those who are steadfast in their support of the public interest, even when (or perhaps especially when) it means forgoing corporate dollars as a result. Above all, we’re interested in members who are willing to engage in honest debate on the issues, not made-up personal attacks.
James Rucker is co-founder of ColorOfChange.org and serves as its executive director.