OPINION: Polls Show Attacks On Tech Might Hurt Republicans In November

Carl Szabo | General counsel for NetChoice and law professor

It looks like it’s going to be a tough mid-term for Republicans. And if beltway Republicans keep-up their attack on Google and Facebook, new polling shows reelection may be even tougher.

Some Congressional Republicans think demonizing Silicon Valley is their key to mobilizing grassroots and voters. The tech industry leans liberal and is largely based in California. The thinking of some Republican strategists goes that this makes big tech a perfect target for Republican attacks.

This thinking has led to new calls for federal regulation of internet companies by otherwise limited government Republicans. But Republican voters overwhelmingly value big tech platforms and oppose government intervention in the tech industry.

Republicans, like all Americans, enjoy the convenience that has been enabled by tech platforms. They have made us better connected and more productive.

Polling results show 61 percent of Republicans say that services like Google and Facebook help them better connect with their community, and 76 percent of Republicans see online advertising platforms as beneficial to small businesses.

Republicans claim to be free market in their regulatory approach, whether online or off. Conservatives and Republican voters do not think it should be the government’s role to further expand its involvement and create new regulations on the tech industry.

And while Republican Attorneys General may argue breaking up technology companies could help consumers, only 20 percent of Republicans agree.

Some Republicans in D.C. have even asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google, when under 5 percent of conservatives say the government should most focus its antitrust enforcement on tech platforms. Instead, 26 percent would prefer antitrust enforcement be most focused on pharmaceutical companies.

Ironically, tech platforms have made it easier for these elected Republicans to mobilize their grassroots. It’s unlikely that the Tea Party movement and Trump’s Presidential campaign would have been as successful as they were if it weren’t for our online platforms.

Of Tea Party sympathizers, 69 percent think internet regulations would harm consumer freedom and choice, and Republicans would do well to consider that before proposing new regulations.

Ronald Reagan succinctly stated, “Government is not the solution. Government is the problem.” This is as true today as it was 40 years ago, and as relevant to the tech industry as it is for any other.

While some beltway Republicans may forget their free market principles, Republican voters have not.

This effort to inflame the Republican base by attacking tech could backfire at a time when Republicans can least afford it. Instead, the Congressional GOP should find a way to reconnect with their base and their basic principles.

Carl Szabo is general counsel for NetChoice, a trade association of eCommerce businesses and online consumers. Facebook is a member of NetChoice. Szabo is also an adjunct professor of privacy law at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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