11/11/2014 05:11 pm ET Updated Jan 11, 2015

Ted Cruz Wants to Shut Down the Internet Just Like He Shut Down the Government


It was not by coincidence that Texas Senator Ted Cruz came out against Net Neutrality almost immediately after President Obama made public comments in support of an open Internet. If Obama is for it, then Cruz must be against it. It's a predictable political move for an aspiring presidential candidate from the Tea Party. It also demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about how the Internet works. Fortunately for Ted Cruz, The Oatmeal does a great job of explaining it.

Nor is it coincidental that Cruz compared Net Neutrality to Obamacare. "Obamacare" is the strongest pejorative in the admittedly limited Tea Party vocabulary. Once again, Cruz's dog whistle language was carefully chosen to incite low-information voters to act against their own economic interests and personal freedoms. Never mind that the end of Net Neutrality will result in higher Internet rates, restrictions on Internet content, potential First Amendment violations, and limited access to markets for struggling small businesses and Internet startups. The only time Right-wing Republicans feel more patriotic than when they are giving money to giant corporations in exchange for substandard services is when they are denying some type of service or basic human right to people who live in poverty. In the mind of Ted Cruz, the same Tea Partiers who rejected Obamacare must now reject Net Neutrality.

If Cruz wants to compare Net Neutrality to the Affordable Care Act, then he should go all the way and point out that his home state's rejection of Obamacare has resulted in the loss of billions of health care dollars for Texas and left Texas with more uninsured people than any other state. The rejection of Net Neutrality would have a similar effect on the quality of the Internet, except it would not be limited to Texas.

Cruz may also have been motivated by his obligations to campaign donors. Federal Election Commission records show that Cruz received donations of $5000 from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, $5000 from Time Warner Cable, $1000 from Verizon, $1000 from Viacom, and thousands of dollars from other donors in the cable industry. These reported donations do not include so-called "dark money" contributions from donors that are protected by the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizen's United from having to disclose their political donations. The proposed two-tiered Internet would mean the end of Net Neutrality and would give preferential treatment to large corporations while relegating small companies and startups to an Internet slow lane, killing the web presence of small businesses. As Republicans are fond of pointing out, small businesses are the real job creators in the United States. By killing Net Neutrality, Ted Cruz is essentially killing small businesses and job creators that are too small to pony up a minimum contribution of $1000. A statesman would put the needs of his constituents ahead of the demands of his corporate donors. Ted Cruz is no statesman.

Ted Cruz is trying to convince people that Net Neutrality is Obama's latest attempt at a government takeover of private industry. In reality -- a word that is not often connected to Ted Cruz -- Net Neutrality is the original state of the Internet, the Internet as it was intended to be and as it has been since its inception. It has allowed the Internet and Internet-based businesses to flourish. Without Net Neutrality, it is unlikely that there would be a YouTube, Facebook, or Amazon. Ted Cruz wants to kill the next generation of Internet entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, while Cruz is not a statesman, he is a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. As such, he is in a position to shut down the Internet as we know it. Let your Senators and Representatives know that Net Neutrality is important, even if your Senator is Ted Cruz and one of his friends. This is not just about the Internet. This is about giving all Americans equal access to the same opportunities, the same information, and the level of same services. It's about Democracy, Free Enterprise, Innovation, and Free Speech -- things that Republicans at one time stood for, before they simply stood for being against the president.

Bob Seay is the Editor of