SOPA/PIPA Debacle Show How Congress/House is Broken

What should we do when our representatives decide to stop representing us?

When I was in high school government class, I learned that the United States is not actually a democracy. We’re a republic.

A republic relies on elected officials to represent the needs and wants of the people. In America, we elect people into positions in Congress and the House of Representatives. As a member of Congress or the House of Representatives, it is their job to convey the desires of the people.

But what happens when they stop listening to the people?

The public remained relatively silent while Patriot Act and the NDAA were passed. Most of the opposition and outrage to these acts came after they were passed. But people spoke up as soon as SOPA was introduced on October 26th by Lamar Smith.

On November 15th, AOL, Ebay, Facebook, Google, Linkedin, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo, and Zynga all signed an open letter to congress, expressing their concerns about SOPA. On November 16th, Tumblr helped people make a total of 87,834 calls to representatives.

Still nothing changed.

When Congress began discussing and debating SOPA, we were horrified to learn that Congress didn’t know anything about the Internet. They were voting on a bill that has the potential to break the internet and they didn’t know what they were talking about.

People were signing petitions left and right, including the Progressive Change Campaign Committee Petition, promoted by Craigslist, Scribd, and Reddit, which got over 200,000 signatures and was mentioned on MSNBC.

Still, members of congress had their forefingers in their ears, loudly screaming “LALALALALA.”

It wasn’t until the Internet blackout that representatives finally started dropping support for SOPA. And it wasn’t until January 20th that SOPA was sent back to the drawing board.

What do we need to do to have our voices heard? As Marco Arment discusses, we can’t continue having huge strikes every time Congress or the House introduces bills such as SOPA and PIPA. It’s only a matter of time before similar bills are introduced. We need to find a way to make our representatives listen to us without shutting down the Internet every time we’re ignored.

Our representatives need to start representing us. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s their job.

So, SOPA was stopped. For now. But until Congress and the House of Representatives start listening to us, we’re still screwed.

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