Do you know how to log in to your personal email account? If so, congratulations! You’re officially more tech-savvy than the Democrats’ last nominee for president of the United States. Yes, really.
We expect our elected leaders to have at least a basic understanding of things like economics, management and military strategy. So why not technology? Why do we tolerate politicians who are so helpless and inept that they can’t even check their own email? We’ll bury them for not knowing how much a gallon of milk costs or when it’s appropriate to bow, but when the chairman of the FCC ignorantly says that the Internet is a "government-run operation" because of net neutrality, barely anyone outside the tech community even takes notice.
Why is it that our political leaders seem to be the most tech-illiterate among us? I suspect the problem traces back to the fact that today’s political establishment does not handle new ideas (like the Internet) particularly well. In fact, they tend to avoid them, altogether.
This might explain why Hillary Clinton needed an unsecured computer already logged in to her email account. When you have a sufficient amount of wealth and privilege, after all, you don’t have to learn new things like the rest of us because you can just pay somebody else to do the work for you. With political leaders who are this helpless when it comes to technology, is it any wonder that hackers keep compromising our systems? Maybe that wouldn’t happen if we started electing people who actually know what they’re doing.
How is it that Congress, a legislative body with an 11 percent approval rating, manages to have nearly all its members retain their seats? There are many reasons, not the least of which being voters’ tendency to hate Congress but love their congressman.
Let’s change that here and now by examining how the Louisiana congressional delegation has performed on tech policy. Last March, Congress quietly voted to deprive us of our privacy protections against predatory broadband companies selling our personal information without our knowledge or consent.
Congressman Cedric Richmond voted against this repeal of our basic privacy protections. Sens. John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy voted to strip you of your right to privacy on the Iinternet. If we are to hold accountable those politicians who are responsible for this unapologetic attack on our civil liberties, it must begin at home.
I can reasonably say that those who voted for this resolution did so out of ignorance based on the ridiculous arguments put forth by its supporters. For example, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner said, “If you start regulating the internet like a utility, if you did that right at the beginning, we would have no Internet.” Unsurprisingly, he never bothered to elaborate on exactly how net neutrality would’ve erased the internet from existence.
Sensenbrenner went on to say, “I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold.” Gee, isn’t it nice to have an elected representative who’s willing to fight for our right to have our privacy invaded so that third-party advertisers can spam us? His constituents should return the favor by defending his right to be voted out of office.
I’m not saying you have to be a software engineer or Silicon Valley tycoon to represent us. However, if you don’t even know how to enter a user name and password, then you lack the basic qualifications necessary to make effective policy in the 21st century. Our society has become much too intertwined with the Internet and the many varieties of devices that connect to it for us to accept such incompetence.
Gone should be the days when candidates can endear themselves to voters by casually joking about their inability to program their VCRs. Times may have changed, but our politicians have remained largely the same. The sooner we fix that by voting these aging technophobes out of office, the better off we’ll all be.
Kris Craig lives in College Place, Wash.