Washington's Elites Miss What Voters Really Care About
It’s often said our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., is a bubble disconnected from everyday Americans — a place where unrelatable intellectuals and politicians determine the future of our nation. And while that’s probably an overstatement, the latest antitrust report from House Judiciary only perpetuates this stereotype. Inside the House Judiciary report lies not only a fundamental disconnect with the chief concerns of everyday Americans, but also a disconnect with how we use the internet and what the average American wants our government to tackle.
Take the average Washington politico. They wheel and deal on their Apple devices, search on Google, and deliver through Amazon — using in essence some of the internet’s most convenient applications. And because they focus on speed and accessibility, Washingtonians seem to focus on only four ways that people use the internet: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. So naturally, the House Judiciary report perpetuates how Washingtonians use the internet to declare each of these distinct companies “monopolies”. We need only look slightly outside the Beltway bubble to know that’s not exactly the case.
While Apple might be the shiniest of smartphones with extravagant new releases every year, it’s not the only smartphone on the market. In fact, Apple controls only 39% of the smartphone market and faces competition from Android and PureOS, a Linux operating system for the computer geeks. Amazon’s two-day delivery is innovative, but it faces daily competition including from retail giants like Walmart and Target because everyday Americans compare prices and hunt for the best deal — we don’t just shop at one website and pay premiums when money’s hard to come by.
Moreover, while D.C. elites might use Google on their iPhones, it would be wrong to exclude other searches from the mix. Everyday Americans turn to Yelp for restaurant recommendations, Angie’s List for home contractors and insert a whole slew of travel companies for their next vacation. In fact despite its vast competition, Google is loved and trusted by everyday Americans for its favorability, trustworthiness, and community impact, not because it’s their only option.
A monopoly colludes to increase price and decrease quality, things our favorite online companies actively avoid because of the harm it brings to us, the consumers. Take social media. While Facebook faces threats of antitrust action, seven out of ten Americans multi-home their online lives on Facebook and competing social networks like Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Reddit just to name a few. Even the average Washington politician seems aware of that because they critique Facebook on Twitter — or for the conservatives, on Parler and Twitter.
What D.C. fails to realize is that Americans love these services for the very reasons politicians complain about them — they’re successful and they’re convenient. And what this antitrust report fails to recognize is that Americans use technology that benefits them. Technology that proves less useful can and will disappear the way Yahoo! Search, Myspace, or any number of ‘90s dot-com bubble companies did.
The House Judiciary Antitrust report fights a battle normal Americans don’t want fought. We love our American businesses. We use them every day, and polls repeatedly show that Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are some of the most beloved businesses in the country. And this assault on tech is certainly not the most pressing issue of the day (there’s still a pandemic going on and millions of Americans are losing their homes). So why are D.C. elites continuing to push this antitrust narrative? Perhaps they hope to distract us from the real problems they aren’t addressing.
It’s time for Washington elites to stop attacking American businesses the rest of us love. It’s time for these elites to open their eyes to the realities that everyday Americans face, how we use the internet, and realize that while they may only use a handful of services, the rest of us use and love the choices we have. Perhaps these elites think that if they squint their eyes enough they can blur the lines to the point they find a monopoly.
Carl Szabo is Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice, a trade organization.