My Letter From The President
I don’t remember what the day was like. I don’t remember what I was doing. I don’t remember what I ate for lunch, or dinner. I only remember being worried.
It was in the later half of the final year of the Obama presidency when I sent my letter to his administration about Net Neutrality. The FCC was about to make its decision on the matter, and to who better to write to than the man at the head of it all?
Dear Mr. President,
My name’s Tristan Isham, and I’m an 18 year old who’s first time voting will be in this election. I would be lying to you if I said that I felt represented in our current government outside of a few rare circumstances. Though through the past 8 years, I’ve supported you both through your first and second presidential terms, I am more than worried about the general election this year, and the candidates we have to choose from.
The issues that are important to me, I feel, often sail over our current administration’s head. Issues such as Net Neutrality, First Amendment rights in this digital age, and the strength of our voices as young voters in this unprecedented time all feel to me as if the government does not fully understand their implications, their duties to protect our rights, or simply that we too have voices worth hearing.
Though in the past you have supported Net Neutrality, I feel as the technology industry, by which I mean every day citizens who build, create, and live dependent on this technology are constantly fighting a to have our voices heard, and to keep the legislation meant to protect us and what we feel is our right, from being repealed. Current administration members such as Tom Warren in the FCC have done a magnificent job in protecting us and our rights, but I feel as if this administration has not done enough. I understand that the world is complex, complicated, and that there are many more voices than mine. However in any democracy what voice weighs more than another? Technology today needs to be unregulated where possible, and protected from corporate fences to allow free growth and innovation in this country. Both in STEM fields, creative fields, and in industry.
Today I was listening to a Podcast all about FDR and his ability to talk to the people. Despite what some might say, you have done a fantastic job of being a people’s president. This, chatting with you on Facebook, in itself proves that. Fireside chats were the balm to a nation rash with fear and fury. My question for you is how will the government continue to hear from the people as technology increases in advancements and the methods we use for communication shift dramatically? Will you in your final months start addressing the nation more on platforms that our younger generations have better access to? I know for a fact that I won’t be getting any kind of cable package as soon as I enter college or in the years following. Do you think that your successor will increase communications with the public in a way that fosters healthy critique and communication? I feel as if we need to have more communication in government. Ways that we, the younger generations who play such a great part in this country’s future will feel comfortable with. This alone feels better than sending a letter as it’s instant, and connected. Live streaming chats, Twitter, and other applications can be used to make our government smarter, and actually start to feel more like the people’s government and less like a giant machine we all live with.
Thank you so much for your time, your patience, and your presidency. I will miss you severely regardless of who wins this election. I hope that you always remember the lives that you’ve changed for the better. Never stop being aloof.
A friend in a stranger’s way,
The letter was poorly written, crafted in haste, and I didn’t expect a response. You can imagine my surprise when I got one.
Sep 22, 2016:
Thank you for writing. More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could barely imagine a generation ago. A big reason for its growth and innovation is the fact that most Internet providers have treated traffic equally. This principle, net neutrality, allows an entrepreneur’s fledgling company to have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and a high school student’s blog to not be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.
I strongly believe in net neutrality because there should be no gatekeepers deciding which sites people can access, and no toll roads blocking the entrance to the information superhighway. The Internet was created and organized around the basic principles of openness, fairness, and freedom. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. That is why I asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality—and the FCC voted in favor of a strong net neutrality rule to keep the Internet open and free.
The simple, commonsense rules I asked for reflect the Internet we all use every day, and some ISPs already observe them. They are rules to protect access to lawful websites and services; to keep Internet speeds consistent no matter the content; to increase the transparency between consumers, ISPs, and the rest of the Internet; and to explicitly ban paid prioritization or other restrictions that put services in a “slow lane” because they don’t pay a fee. And these rules should also be applied to mobile broadband. To learn more, you can visit https://www.whitehouse.gov//net-neutrality.
These rules mean everything for preserving the Internet’s openness. If carefully designed, they shouldn’t create any undue burdens for ISPs, and there can be clear, monitored exceptions for reasonable network management and for specialized services—such as the critical networks serving a hospital.
The Internet has been one of the greatest gifts our economy—and our society—has ever known, and the FCC was chartered to promote competition, innovation, and investment in our networks. In service of that mission, there is no higher calling than protecting an open, accessible, and free Internet. We must preserve this technology’s promise and its democratic spirit for today and for future generations.
This email didn’t mean as much then as it did now. The FCC was already on the record for promoting the open internet, and big cable seemed to have no chance to win its case against it.
Things have changed.
Don’t stop fighting for the internet that employs, entertains, and makes our days full to the brim with smiles and memes. Net nutrality is good for everyone. It’s good for small business. It’s good for the consumer. It’s good for innovation, and the press. It’s good for government. It’s only a bad thing for conglomerates and monopolies that can profit off of the limiting nature of the American cable environment. Trust me when I say you do not want that.
Thanks for the good vibes then Mr. Obama, and thank you for your response. I hope that you’re enjoying your vacation.
Happy Valentine’s Day to the love of my life and favorite island mate, @BarackObama. #valentines pic.twitter.com/n3tEmSAJRT— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 14, 2017