After weeks of teasing, Senate Democrats will finally take decisive action on bringing back net neutrality to America on Wednesday – by holding a pointless vote.
"BREAKING," yelled Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) on Twitter. "The Senate's vote to save Net Neutrality will take place this Wednesday, May 16th. Keep raising your voices for the free and open internet. The fight is on!"
Of course Congress defines "fight" a little differently to you and I.
Date engraved onto net neutrality tombstone: June 11, 2018READ MORE
Telling people several weeks in advance that you intend to run in a brick wall, then telling them you'll run into the wall next Wednesday, then changing your mind, then saying at some point next week you'll run into the wall, and then finally announcing that this Wednesday you'll run into the brick wall – doesn't normally constitute a fight in the wider world.
But the big plus, Democrats and net neutrality advocates tell us, is that we will be able to see who is cheering on the wall-charging effort and who is either opposed or indifferent to someone smashing their face into a solid vertical structure.
You just have to ignore the fact that we already know who is pro and anti wall-smashing.
Plus there is an outside chance that overnight someone might decide to dismantle the wall, revealing another wall behind, so we would all be able to celebrate the fact that there is one less wall that we can fail to knock down.
At the heart of the pointless vote is a resolution that would reverse the FCC's efforts to reverse its own rules covering net neutrality.
It uses the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which was an obscure piece of legislation passed in 1996 that had been used only once in 2001 before it became de rigeur for Republicans in 2017 as loophole legislation to reverse recent decisions by the Obama Administration.
The CRA has been used no less than 17 times in the past year and has now become one of Congress' favorite stupid tools to entrench partisan politics.
So on top of holding a vote it already knows it will lose, Democrats are trying to use a piece of legislation that has been repeatedly abused and so throw away any claim to a political higher ground while achieving nothing.
Of course this being net neutrality and 2018, there is even a meta argument that even if the CRA resolution vote passed – which it won't – that it wouldn't count (an eight-page "legal analysis" [PDF] no less).
The claim is that the FCC's rule repealing net neutrality rules isn't actually a "rule" and so the CRA would have no effect. Which is another layer of nonsense on top of an already pretty-thick nonsense cake.
But even though everyone knows it won't pass, the fact that it only requires one additional vote to pass the Senate has led to seemingly endless commentary pieces on how it actually might pass because it only needs one vote.
In much the same way that a baseball team only needs one more point to win, or a soccer team only have to score one more goal.
And then, the endless commentary continues, if it did pass the Senate it would be in for a much "tougher time" passing the House – which means, simply, that it wouldn't pass.
And then it would really hit a hurdle with President Trump who wouldn't sign it either. But let's keep talking about it anyway.
Because in the mid-terms, it is possible that there will be a blue wave and Democrats will take back the House (although they won't). And then Trump might get impeached (but won't).
And so, you see, it is possible that if several extremely unlikely things happen that it might be possible to get back net neutrality rules. And that would really rub their noses in it.
So let's not stop fighting! Let's keep on using up endless hours arguing for something that won't happen for no reason other than we want it to.
And when we fail, we can get upset with the people that stopped it – even though they made it abundantly clear they wouldn't allow it – and we can use that anger to build up support for the next pointless endeavor.
Because that is how you govern. One Sisyphean task at a time. ®
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