It's no secret to most techies that Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is no friend to the Internet. Some have described him, tongue-in-cheek, as the Senator from Disney--not because he's Mickey Mouse, but because he seems to represent Anaheim's interests much more keenly than he does Utah's. Hatch has been a supporter of the INDUCE Act, DMCA, and even suggested that he'd like to see technology developed to destroy the computers of people who download music illegally. Hatch will be up for re-election in 2006 and I'd like to see that he doesn't get six more years to wreak havoc.
To be sure, I think Hatch is a nice, sincere guy. I've interacted with him several times and he's very personable. I think he really believes that he's doing right. That's probably the scariest part.
The way I see it, Techies been saying that the Internet is a great equalizer and this is our chance to prove it. Wouldn't it be ironic to use the technology that Hatch is out to destroy to challenge and beat him?
To understand what it would take to beat Hatch, you have to understand that he's a popular 5-term Senator from a state where only
one two Democrats have won a state-wide race in over twenty years and that was for Attorney General. Scott Matheson, the Democratic candidate for Governor was probably the perfect candidate given his long Utah roots and name cache. He only garnered 35% 41% of the vote in 2004.
For Hatch to lose, he'd have to be taken out by a Republican. That's still a very difficult task--unless you beat Hatch at convention. In a general or primary election, Hatch's war chest and popularity are big advantages. But to beat Hatch at the convention, you only need 60% of the 2500 or so delegates. Still not easy, but a task where technology can help a great deal.
Of course, you'd need the right Republican. Steve Urquhart announced today that he's challenging Hatch and I think he's the right Republican. I'm one of those who's been urging him to run. He's a party insider with a leadership post in the legislature, he's smart, he's conservative, and, most germane to this conversation, he gets and uses technology. His blog isn't something he started because he was running for Senator. Steve's been blogging since last November in an effort to communicate more widely and accurately with his constituents. This is a guy who can not only say "Technorati" but he knows what it is!
If Hatch were just bad for Utah, this might just be a Utah issue. But Hatch is bad for the Internet and this is a chance for Techies to show a little muscle and strike a blow for what they believe in. If you don't like what Hatch is doing and are afraid of the influence he wields, then help defeat him.
How can you do that? First spread the word and link to this post to explain to people why they ought to help. Second, go to Steve's site and donate. According to Federal Election Commission reports filed last Friday, Hatch has $1.72 million in cash in his main campaign account. Steve doesn't need that much to beat him at convention, but still, it won't be cheap--probably on the order of $750,000 to $1,000,000. How much should you donate? Any amount helps--just to show your support, but I'd suggest that you donate what you spend on your Internet connection in a year. Think of it as "Internet Insurance."