Yesterday, I blogged my doubts about the “scare-meme” that hit the blogosphere that claimed a provision in the Senate “ethics bill” would require certain bloggers to register as lobbyists. I suggested it would die a quick death if that were, indeed, the case. Even though the provision was not what the wolf-criers were claiming it to be, it was nonetheless removed from the legislation when lawmakers learned of the ruckus it was causing. As I guessed — even without glancing at the legislation — the provision was aimed at “astroturf” (fake grassroots) efforts, including fake blogs, and paid efforts (including blogs) that received $25,000 during a three-month period. In other words, it would have probably been a good thing that most bloggers who were up in arms about it would have supported if they hadn’t jumped to the bizarre conclusion that Congress was wanting to regulate (and even criminalize in certain cases) political blogging by individual citizens.
I know personally members of Congress and the Senate who are Democrats and others who are Republicans. One of my first jobs out of college (many years ago) was in a Democratic congressional office — I worked on the Hill for three years and came into contact with lawmakers and their staff-members all day, every day. One of my close, personal friends is now a member of the “majority” in the House and has some very key committee assignments. I know personally many lobbyists from both the right and left sides of the political spectrum. And despite my eschewing politics on this blog, one of the most creative and influential online political “operatives” I know (a Republican) is one of its most regular readers. I can’t think of much all of these people may agree on, but this I know: They share the conviction that citizens should have the right to express their individual opinions and beliefs. As cynical as I may be at times about the way “the system” works, I can’t envision even the most crazed extremist on either the left or right who would go on record as being against individuals expressing themselves on a personal or media blog. Such a stance has no constituency. There is no money trail to follow to get to that point of view. Everyone thinks “their people” should be blogging. Everyone thinks “blogging” is a tool that will benefit their side.
So, in the future, when you hear “there is a bill before congress that would ban or regulate blogging,” remember this: Democratic Party lawmakers love blogs — the ones maintained by Democrats. Republican Party lawmakers love blogs — the ones maintained by Republicans. Every lawmaker loves blogs and bloggers and they do not want to tick off the bloggers who support them.
Next time, don’t be duped so easily by the masters of astroturf who orchestrate scare-the-bloggers campaigns in order to protect their lobbying tactics.