One of the most popular TV shows of the 90s was a sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond. If media moguls had their way and had been able to push Congress to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), it would have been harder and more expensive for people to enjoy that show and others online.
One of the biggest shows of this decade could be a reality show called Everybody Hates Washington. The widespread public hostility towards our nation's capital is a function of the popular belief that the votes of people who live or work in D.C. are for sale to the highest bidder. The anger towards Washington reached the tipping point in 2008 when the financial industry spent $64 million dollars lobbying representatives and bureaucrats. In return the feds, under the leadership of George W. Bush, graciously bailed out the banksters to the tune of $750 billion dollars. Not a bad gig, if you can find it. Also, not a bad return on an investment, either for the banks and billionaires who opened their checkbooks in Washington.
Of course, the feds didn't bailout the millions of Americans who lost their jobs because of the greed on Wall Street. That grave omission left a sour taste in the mouths of most Americans. The question that President Obama and many Americans have about Washington is how they can break through the stranglehold of special interests so they can move the nation forward.
The blogosphere answered that question last week by beating back a congressional attempt to pass SOPA. The legislation was the attempt by the well-heeled entertainment industry to block the downloading of movies, TV shows and other entertainment.
Heavyweights like the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Chamber of Commerce joined forces to push the legislation. Former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, who runs the MPAA, attested to the power of the Internet community when speaking to the New York Times, saying that SOPA was "a slam dunk" until online lobbying showed "this was a whole new different game all of a sudden." Before SOPA, the last time the term "slam dunk" was used in Washington was the assertion by then-CIA Director, George Tenet, about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Things will never be the same in D.C. for the special interest groups after the defeat of SOPA.
Young Americans balked at this attempt to censor the internet and they responded with millions of emails to stop the legislation in its tracks. In their new book, Millennial Momentum, Morley Winograd and Mike Hais documented the growing power of the generation of young Americans who will replace the Baby Boomers as the driving force in American politics for the next generation.
The defeat of SOPA was a coming-of-age party for the millennial generation. The millennials that sent President Barack Obama to the White House and took to the streets last fall during Occupy Wall Street have flexed their political muscles for the third time, and it won't be the last.