A few years ago, Google was deeply in bed with the left wing activists like Moveon.org and Free Press pushing for Internet regulation. When Obama was elected, Google got even more deeply embedded with both the left and the government. At this point, Republicans began paying more attention to Google and Google realized it had a political problem.
So, after years of lining up with the left to demand more government regulation of the internet, Google changed course. ("Google cozies up to the GOP") Google promoted their Republican lobbyists, hired Republican consultants, sucked up to conservative organizations and even hired a squishy Republican, Susan Molinari (R-MSNBC) to run their DC office.
But if they were playing footsie with Republicans, Google was still sleeping with the Democrats.
Over the past couple years, Google and the left wing activists have tried to peddle the notion that everybody is on the same side on Internet freedom. Of course, that's not true, but since the FCC ruled on net neutrality in late 2010, Google hasn't had to make as many tough choices about where they line up.
This year, that will change.
Sometime this year, it is very likely that the courts will shoot down the FCC's net neutrality rules. Once that happens, the issue will be back in play and Google will have to make a very difficult choice. Will Google stand with Republicans against Internet regulations, or will Google jump back into the arms of Free Press, Moveon.org and other left wing activists to demand new net neutrality regulations?
That's not the only issue on which Google may need to make a choice. We will also have a chance to judge Google by their actions when the FCC considers various technology mandates or when the administration attempts to retain government control of spectrum rather than auctioning it.
I hope Google will heed the words of Rep. Issa who expressed hope that companies would stand up against regulations "when they believe that if they don't defend a particular entity's liberty, that next it could be them. … It's the old expression from Churchill of "feeding the alligator, hoping they'll eat you last." It's not a particularly good strategy."
Google's strategy of renting Republicans when they need to be bailed out on anti-trust issues may have worked when they could pretend to be aligned with Republicans.
Will Google sell out conservatives? Well, let's consider: Other than on policies that directly hurt Google, when has Google disagreed with the Obama administration? I can't think of anything. Has Google lined up with conservatives against progressives on any significant issue? I can't think of anything.
In 2013, Google will have to pick sides. They can either be for government regulation of the Internet or against it. Conservatives should pay very close attention this year.