"Punching the hippies" is a figure of speech I have picked up on from never missing MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. Most recently used by Rachel to describe President Obama's proposal to effectively cut Social Security benefits, "punching the hippies" refers to a Democratic politician taking a conservative policy stance with the purpose of proving to all their constituencies other than the left-wing base that they really aren't beholden to that base after all. I believe that is exactly what Congresswoman and recently confirmed Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Allyson Schwartz has done by voting for CISPA, though perhaps in an even more insidious way than is typically the case.
CISPA is widely considered to be the latest version of similar legislation introduced last year called SOPA and PIPA that caused an unprecedented
online uproar and backlash. The Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and Protect IP Act in the Senate would have
empowered corporations to have websites cut off from payment providers, blocked by internet service providers, sued, and ultimately shut down for allegedly violating copyright law - an action so broadly defined there's no telling what sites could be shut down for. This wouldn't have just been a problem for people illegally downloading music, movies, software, television shows, and other digital products, but also for people singing and/or playing copyrighted songs in videos, people posting copyrighted images on their sites and blogs, and endless other examples.
CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) will allow our personal information to be shared between and among corporations and the government, used for virtually any purpose, and most disturbingly grants corporations immunity from any actions taken in response to information retrieved through CISPA. Since there are no search warrants involved, CISPA appears to violate the Bill of Rights, specifically the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution which states that, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." An amendment that would have banned corporations from demanding social media log-in passwords of prospective and current employees as a condition of employment failed to pass.
After much speculation
, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-PA 13) officially
confirmed at the beginning of the month that she is running in the primary to be the Democratic party's gubernatorial candidate to run against incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett in 2014. This is a particularly important Democratic gubernatorial primary election because Governor Corbett is vulnerable and in 2012 the Democrats swept
the presidential vote and all three statewide row offices - the state's attorney general, treasurer, and auditor. In February, a PPP poll found
Governor Corbett trailing behind all five potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates they asked about by solid margins ranging from 7 - 11 points. Just this month, Nate Silver of predicting-every-state-in-the-2012-presidential-election fame
ranked all of the nation's governors who are up for election in 2014 and said
Governor Corbett is the fifth most likely to be defeated governor in America.
When CISPA passed
in the House of Representatives late last week, only one Democrat from Pennsylvania voted for it: Allyson Schwartz. This is definitely feeling like one of those "punch the hippies" moments to me. Coming out of a solid blue district with a history
running an abortion provider, this provides conservative counterweight to prove she's willing to stick it to progressives. It may also be a move to bolster tough-on-crime credentials in reaction to fears of sexist assumptions by voters that being a woman makes her soft - demonstrating the strength to sacrifice security for safety when necessary as the talking point might go - again, at the expense of the progressive base she should be relying on to carry her through the primary. The same progressive base that she should already be concerned about losing support from because of her conservative positions
on health care reform, consumer financial protection, and financial regulations and the fact
that she had a 2012 primary challenger from the Occupy movement kicked off the ballot.
But I think in one aspect this may be an even-worse-than-usual "punch the hippies" moment. While these other uses for the vote may come in handy when talking to persuadable conservatives, this doesn't seem like the type of vote taken to tell the average prospective voter about, this seems like the type of vote taken to facilitate campaign donations. I believe it's quite possible that Schwartz assumes this will not be a big enough issue to the average voter to cost her much on election day, but this expression of her fealty to corporate rule will be a selling point to prospective campaign donors who don't support Corbett for one reason or another but still expect lapdog behavior from candidates they support when it comes to expansion of corporate power. True, Schwartz has already moved $3 million from her congressional campaign committee to her gubernatorial campaign committee, but Corbett spent nearly $30 million to win in the last race, so she is still just getting started. And what better way to start raising that coveted corporate campaign cash than by punching the hippies?