Why technology loves Obama

Republicans blame their digital incompetence -- and poll defeats -- on a failure to follow free market principles

Topics: Elections 2012, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, RootsCamp, ,

Why technology loves Obama (Credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)

The postmortems blaming Mitt Romney’s election loss, at least in part, on his campaign’s digital incompetence began before the candidate had even made his concession speech. In that respect, Robert Draper’s loooooooooong read in the New York Times Magazine, “Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?” doesn’t tell us much that is particularly new on the how-Obama-did-it technology front. Alexis Madrigal had this story first, and best.

But there are some interesting quotes from conservatives in the piece framing GOP woes as a case in which Democrats are behaving more in accord with the principles of the “free market” than Republicans that deserve closer examination. They offer some illumination, but don’t quite capture the whole picture of what’s going on.

Patrick Ruffini, up-and-coming GOP strategist, attends RootsCamp, watches Democratic organizers share tactics and lessons learned from the 2012 campaign, and tells Draper that “the thing I was struck by at RootsCamp was that in many ways, the Democratic technology ecosystem has embraced the free market — whereas the Republican one sort of runs on socialism, with the R.N.C. being the overlord.”

Ben Domenech, a founder of the RedState blog, explaining why there’s a perception that, as Draper puts it, “technological innovation runs at cross-purposes with the [GOP's] corporate rigidity,” says that “there are always elders at the top who say, ‘That’s not important.’ And that’s where the left has beaten us, by giving smart people the space and trusting them to have success. It’s a fundamentally anti-entrepreneurial model we’ve embraced.”

When Republicans start categorizing their own operating system as “socialist” and “anti-entrepreneurial” you know that the Grand Old Party is in serious disarray. But the interesting thing here is how Ruffini and Domenech are using “free market” rhetoric to frame the problem. That’s not quite right. What’s really happening is that Democrats have grasped a fundamental attribute of the digital age — information is easy to share — and have understood that the best way to take advantage of this special quality is set up a structure in which “smart people” are allowed to operate freely in an environment where information flows fluidly.



This is not something that a “free market” supports all by itself. It’s something that a well-regulated market encourages. Left to their own devices, entrepreneurs in a free market often seek to control information flows, to build monopoly structures, influence the political process with lobbying dollars, and employ litigation to restrict competitors. In Draper’s article, unhappy young Republicans note that one of their biggest problems is that technologically smart conservatives seem more interested in making money for themselves than working for the advancement of their cause. But isn’t seeking profit for yourself supposed to be the end-all and be-all of free-market motivation? There’s a contradiction here that conservatives are not seeing clearly.

The whole battle over “net neutrality” — an issue that many conservatives decry as evil “regulation of the Internet” — captures this free market problem perfectly. Supporters of “net neutrality” see it as a way to affirm and protect everyone’s ability to take advantage of the Internet infrastructure. The phone and cable companies that own big chunks of that infrastructure see it differently: They want to maximize their profits by charging differentially for the use of it.

The pro-net neutrality camp believes that society at large benefits more if the free-market-profit maximizing tendencies of the big telecom communities are restricted. Enhancing society’s access lets all of us share information more freely. That’s smart. That’s understanding new technology. That leads to more success — for everyone.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>