For critics of the Republican Party, today’s GOP is plagued by intellectual stagnation, a lack of interest in creativity and problem-solving, and epistemic closure that deliberately repels independent thought and ideological diversity. For David Brooks, critics have it all wrong – there’s actually “a vibrant and increasingly influential center-right conversation” underway.
To bolster the point, the New York Times columnist trumpeted a “heralded paper on intellectual property rights” from “rising star Derek Khanna,” a Republican Study Committee staffer. Brooks added, “Since Nov. 6, the G.O.P. has experienced an epidemic of open-mindedness. The party may evolve quickly. If so, it’ll be powerfully influenced by people with names like … Derek Khanna.”
Alas, the “epidemic” didn’t last. Industry lobbyists demanded that the Republican Study Committee withdraw Khanna’s report, and GOP policymakers obliged. As of last week, Khanna, the “rising star” cheered by Brooks, suddenly finds himself out of work.
The incoming chairman of the RSC, Steve Scalise (R-LA) was approached by several Republican members of Congress who were upset about a memo Khanna wrote advocating reform of copyright law. They asked that Khanna not be retained, and Scalise agreed to their request.
The release and subsequent retraction of Khanna’s memo has made waves in tech policy circles. The document argues that the copyright regime has become too favorable to the interests of copyright holders and does not adequately serve the public interest. It advocates several key reforms, including reducing copyright terms and limiting the draconian “statutory damages” that can reach as high as $150,000 per infringing work.
The memo was widely hailed by tech policy scholars and public interests advocates. However, it raised the ire of content industry lobbyists, who applied pressure on the RSC to retract the memo. The organization did so within 24 hours of its release.
To be sure, an “epidemic of open-mindedness” on the right would be a welcome development, but it remains nowhere in sight.