Obama for Internet President

The 2008 US Presidential election is historic for many reasons. Although the role of the internet in campaigning isn’t new, internet related policy in 2008 is more important then ever.

I don’t live in the United States, nor am I an American citizen, and yet the policies implemented after this election have a direct impact on what I do for a living. I’ve worked online exclusively for 3 years, and beyond that I’ve written blogs for a predominantly American audience. Today, The Inquisitr gains the majority of its traffic from the United States. Decisions made in the United States directly affect this site, and my ability to put food on the table; this may in the eyes of some disqualify me from giving an opinion, and I accept that no matter what I say this will be the case. However, not only do I work online, many of my great friends and associates work in internet related industries as well, and most of them live in the United States. My preference may be slanted by my own situation, but I think of others when I make it.

The Inquisitr is not a partisan political blog, and I’d hope that it never will be. Many years ago I was involved in the founding of Donklephant, a middle ground US political blog. Although I’m not tied in to the site today, I link to it fairly regularly because I believe that the majority of people are non-partisan, and sit in the middle. I have a long history in the right in Australia, but I voted left at our last election for the first time. My personal politics tend libertarian center (left socially, right economically). The following therefore is not an endorsement by this site as a whole, but one made personally.

On the balance of facts, if you work in an online industry your vote should go to Obama.

There are positives and negatives on both sides, but the tipping point for me is Obama’s support for Net Neutrality. This affects everyone and anyone who has internet traffic in the United States. While unlike many I’m not against “internet caps” as an economic instrument (although I am morally opposed), net neutrality as an issue has the possibility of stifling innovation and small scale startups and blogs. That Obama lists the issue as his number one tech policy on his site is a commitment to the future of innovation and small scale enterprise, this site included.

On broadband I have no strong opinion. The need to offer broadband to all is a social aspect that can be better served by the Government over enterprise when considering access to all. Obama has the better broadband plan, and more people with broadband means more potential customers for internet startups.

Trade Policy

Unfortunately the let down in a vote for Obama is trade policy. As many sites have noted when endorsing Obama, his trade policies have much to be desired. While it is reprehensible that countries such as China may be using censorship as an economic tool to block American sites, and any website outside of China itself to advantage local firms, Obama’s trade policy is suspect at best.

Obama has talked about conditional trade polices, a populist line that panders to those who believe (particularly in manufacturing) that the labor aspect of such deals is unfair. And yet the free trade policy of the Bush Administration has often been conditional, but in different ways. Obama isn’t anti-free trade, but he comes from a party that is in many ways. Trade Policy ultimately should be about opening doors to local product, and that includes American internet companies and sites. That Obama may kill free trade agreements by trying to force unfair conditions without conceding local exceptions in return bides badly for the future course of global free trade, and the benefits this may have for tech and online concerns.

Free trade is vital for American internet companies to grow, and any shift away from the current course presents a clear and present danger to startups and blogs alike. McCain’s trade policies are superior to those proposed by Obama.

Conclusion

Obama has made all the right noises about being a moderate on many issues, and I can only hope that he moderates his party on trade. On the core tech issues that matter most domestically, Obama offers the best outcome for people who work in internet related industries. There are many other factors involved in such a vote, but if you care about the Internet, Obama should have your vote.