The Coming Battle for Universal Internet
In my last Whiskey & Gunpowder piece, I advanced the notion that the massive flight away from cities we’re seeing these days could augur well for the long-term future of the Republican Party, regardless of who wins the 2020 election.
I argued this because according to intensifying demographic trends over the last two decades, people in America’s major metropolitan areas are overwhelmingly left-leaning nowadays — while country-folk tend to lean right of center, pretty reliably. So it stands to reason that a mass migration from metro to rural will eventually create a substantial number of converts to the GOP.
On the other hand, the opposite could happen: Big-city liberal values of higher taxes, heavier-handed government, more regulation, and less freedom could take over rural America, creating legions of new Democrats…
I wouldn’t bet the farm on that, though. Because the taste of liberty is sweet, and of tyranny sour.
But I digress. My objective with today’s article is to expose a twist to this coming political power shift that nobody seems to be talking much about. And it carries implications for everyone, everywhere in America.
The Big City is losing its power and appeal
In a nutshell, what I see coming is a decline in the importance of major cities to the nation’s economy overall, with Democratic Party power eroding as a result.
If I’m right, a prime factor in this rebalancing of political influence will be the radical expansion of reliable high-speed, high-capacity Internet service to more and more sparsely populated areas of this nation via new technologies.
Now just to be clear, I’m not a technology expert in any way, shape, or form. I can’t credibly discuss the nuances, pros and cons, nuts and bolts, or ins-and-outs of the various generations of connectivity tech that exist now, or are in development…
But I do have decades of experience in both metropolitan and country living. And I can tell you firsthand that access to decent Internet service has absolutely changed my own residential choices. And I’m sure I’m not alone in that regard.
I bought my first house in 1999, in a densely populated part of the Baltimore metro area. Yes, it was close to everything — but it wasn’t very safe under the gentrified veneer. Break-ins were common. I heard gunshots on occasion. The clerk at the convenience store down the street got murdered during a robbery.
But what could I do? As a writer, I needed fast, reliable access to the Web, and the cable Internet service in that neighborhood was spectacularly good. There was no such service in many of the rural areas I yearned to live in. So there I stayed, trapped in the Big City by the invisible fence of limited technology.
Flash-forward to 2007, when I partnered with a builder to construct a “spec” house on a beautiful, but remote rural road 30 miles outside of Baltimore. There was no high-speed cable or fiber-optic Internet — it was strictly dial-up country. But I figured that was the buyer’s problem, not mine, so I didn’t worry about it too much.
The game changed, however, when a major cellular carrier activated a tower within range of this house. Compared to cable, it was terribly slow “3G” Internet service, and would barely run videos at all, if I recall…
But it worked reliably enough to get by. So I took ownership of the house myself, moved out of the metro area, and never looked back. I’m still there to this day, and still working off that same wireless Internet service, though now it’s at much better “4G” speeds and capacities.
My point is that for years, access to fast, reliable Internet was a barrier to my living where I wanted — where the taxes are cheaper, the streets are quiet, and the deer and the antelope play. But the instant that situation changed, even marginally, I pulled up stakes and moved away from the city.
There have to be millions of other Americans out there who are looking to do this same thing today and are exploring the connectivity options that could allow them to do it. I’m one of them, in fact…
As I mentioned in my last article, I’m looking to move even farther out into the sticks right now. I’ve found some incredible places, too — with ponds and pastures and woods and streams and acres aplenty — but no good Internet solutions.
That could change very soon, though. Because it looks like Elon’s got my back…
If the Democrats don’t sabotage him, that is. And you can bet they’re going to try.
The eclectic Mr. Musk to the rescue?
There’s no way you haven’t heard of “5G” cellular technology. It’s being billed as the be-all and end-all by cell phone makers and service providers. And at its best, 5G can provide much faster upload and download speeds, much greater bandwidth, and the ability to finally actualize the Internet of Things — a techno-topian concept in which everything but your underwear is connected to the Web, collecting and transmitting data on your every move…
However, unless I’m wrong about this technology (and I’m sure 1,000 egg-heads will let me know), there are going to be three distinct tiers of 5G capability. And the one that may eventually serve rural America won’t be all that much faster or better than current 4G service. The really good, lightning-fast tier of 5G will only be available in the very densest population centers. Where the Democrats are, by and large.
But take heart, country dreamers. In case you haven’t heard, Elon Musk is making fast progress on Starlink — a satellite-driven high-speed Internet solution that’ll theoretically serve almost the entire globe. Slated to begin rolling out in Canada and the northern U.S. later this year and to cover most of the world by the end of 2021, Starlink is specifically targeting un-served or under-served markets…
Like the rural areas loved by so many right-leaning Americans, and the city-fleeing transplants who soon will be. Because with the coronavirus reality check and civil unrest disrupting city life — and with work-from-home becoming a new normal for many jobs — the desire or need to live in metro areas is evaporating rapidly.
All that’s missing for this migration to become permanent is for universal high-speed Internet to become a reality outside of those metro areas. With Musk on the case, this could happen soon…
And that spells long-term trouble for the Democratic Party. Because The Left’s prospects for control of this country are best served when more of its people are bunched up in cities, dependent on government services and infrastructure, and paying ever-higher taxes for it.
They know all this, too. So mark my words…
At some point very soon, we’re going to start seeing Democrat-pushed policy roadblocks and regulatory resistance to any new-generation technologies that would provide high-speed Internet to America’s hinterlands. Especially if they win the White House and/or Senate.
Bottom line: The political battle for the Internet is coming. And the Far Left and its partisan allies in Silicon Valley have a long history of abusing technology for political aims (see Twitter censorship of conservatives, Google vote-steering, Facebook hate-speech double-standards, etc.)…
So why should this situation be any different?
If the Democrats get their way, only people who live in or near major cities will ever have the best Internet service — and all the benefits that come with it.
Freedoms Editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder