That Vision Thing.

Let it be said that the gentlelady from Tennessee has a decent point here:

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) decried the failure of her own party to create a national agenda for technology policy during remarks at the State of the Net conference in Washington on Tuesday.

"We haven't laid out a vision for technology policy," she said, noting that Democrats have not done so either. ... 

"When Congress fails to move forward on an issue, bureaucracies step in," Blackburn said. She referred to an "alphabet soup" of regulators that businesses must face before they can get their efforts off the ground: the FCC, SEC, FTC.

Public policy around technology is all FCC, SEC, FTC. (All of which is arguably still overshadowed by CES, as in the annual Vegas celebration of all things gadgetized.) Despite the fact that FDR's electrification of the American countryside serves as something of a formative experience of the modern Democratic Party, you rarely hear any effort to connect that with things like need for a neutral Internet, or the importance of media diversity, or the potential of community radio, or what the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal means for the information we consume, and what price. All those debates get treated as one-offs. Advocates have tried at the margins, but either way, there's no coherent political narrative that even starts to argue that at stake with tech are overarching quality of life issues affecting nearly every single American.

Though I'd challenge Blackburn on one point. By not offering much, Republicans have succeeded in letting industry define technology policy as an obstacle to be overcome as they work to bring the newest gadget or fastest connection to market. But yeah, if there's an alternative conservative view, we haven't heard it.

-- Nancy Scola

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