Then a single lonely voice rose in opposition in the Senate Ron Wyden of Oregon. Online and on television, he single-handedly focused attention on the bill:
His promise to filibuster the bill on Nov. 28, 2011, catalyzed opposition that culminated in Wednesday's day of action and the subsequent defeat (for now) of the legislation. It was his tireless efforts that generated the first organized opposition inside Congress:
The framework for the counterproposal was put forth by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) joined with Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and John Campbell (R-Calif.).
Greg Sargent caught up with Wyden to get his take on the latest developments, and bottom line? His crusade is not so lonely anymore.
Democratic leaders had been pilloried mercilessly for weeks by bloggers and others organizing against the bills. They were accused of tone-deafness in the face of a major popular outcry — at exactly the moment when they are campaigning on a populist message — and of shunning a major progressive constituency, the online community. Wyden said the message had been heard.
“We wouldn’t accept this enormous body blow to the architecture of the internet — a technological juggernaut for jobs, innovation, freedom of expression, and the like,” Wyden said. “Democratic progressive values are what the internet is all about. If you’re concerned about income equality or what Occupy Wall Street is talking about, the Internet is where you take on the moneyed interests. The Internet is the equalizer — the voice of the grassroots.”
“What has happened in the last few weeks will permanently change the way citizens communicate with their government,” Wyden concluded. “This is a new day.”
Wyden and a bipartisan team of legislators have been working on an alternative to SOPA/PIPA that would better target copyright infringers, and has the backing of the tech industry. Wyden is confident that the Democratic leadership will adopt their approach.
And it would be fitting, because if it wasn't for Wyden, and his early bipartisan band of allies, we likely wouldn't be having this debate today.
Update: You can thank Wyden here!