Vote against a paid-for Pigopolist pol!

Insurgent candidates surface

Bought and paid-for representatives of the entertainment oligopolies in Washington could find themselves facing challenges back home.

A 26-year old will oppose Howard Coble (R) as a single-issue candidate. Well, not strictly as a single issue: Tara Grubb is the Libertarian Party candidate who says she'll campaign on a single issue, the "Internet", which again sounds like a lot of issues [pl.].

Democrat Senator and former Presidential wannabee Joe Biden, who also benefits from the Pigopolists' largesse, is also in the frame for an insurgency candidate.

The idea of picking two vulnerable representatives - one from each party - was first hatched by Doc Searls and friends in an organized attempt to adopt the Pigopolists' tactic of buying influence in DC by forming GeekPAC. (A PAC is a fund-raising committee).

Lawrence Lessig welcomed the move in his blog. "Man, that would be a coup. Just the sort of thing they would say the geeks could never do," he wrote.

Indeed. And Lessig tips his own choice Hank Perritt, against incumbent copyright Taliban Mary Bono. And how we'd love to see a challenge against Howard Berman the man who wants the right to hack into your computer - and who our own Thomas C Greene brilliantly and accurately described as the House Hollywood sock puppet.

It'll be a great test of how effective computer users are at persuading the public at large that their freedoms are being taken away. So far, they've lacked the will or the courage to do so effectively. I identified a couple of reasons why here, and Register readers have elaborated on the topic most recently yesterday, discussing a parallel open "Stuckist" Net.

One of those correspondents Brian Hurt elaborated in a follow-up.

"Want to see a hundred people look at their shoes simultaneously? Ask a roomful of geeks how many of them would be willing to vote for the "other guy" if he'd support our cause. If you generally vote Democratic, what would it take to make you vote republican? If Republican, Democratic? I've done it. Or you could ask a bunch of SF fans or space proponents the same question, and get the same response (I've done that too).

"This is what the pro-gun (and anti-gun) lobbies do, every other lobby that's effective. Move as a unit. It has been said that managing programmers is like herding cats. We- and I'm a programmer myself- are not good at being part of the herd."

And he isn't optimistic:-

"But OK. Let's assume, for a moment, that such a lobby does coalesce."

"And that the highly individualistic, anarchistic-libertarian tending, geek subculture does decide to start voting as a block. What happens? Birds sing, government catches a clue, bells ring out freedom, and we all live happily ever after?"

"Try again. Take a long hard look at how the anti-corporatist movement is being treated in the mainstream media. We'd be lucky to only be called 'hooligans', and not 'terrorists'."

Or labelled as a right-wing insurgency. There's sure to be a swell of support from the heavily partisan Republican corner of the blogosphere, keen to tip the balance of the House back their way. So unless, as Lessig points out, "balance" is preserved, this campaign will get nowhere.

My only quibble with GeekPAC is a complaint that the insurgent candidates will also need to disarm. The name's wrong. Being a geek by definition suggests you're marginal, and so it's very easy for the mass media to marginalize the campaigns. Fair use, such as sharing music you've bought legally is not a marginal activity: it's a noble populist cause.

It needs an umbrella term as attractive as "Sunshine" legislation, which opened public representatives to greater public scrutiny. Any suggestions? ®

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