Today’s Democratic party is supposed to have made peace with the market. Modern Democrats favor free trade and technological development. They are friendly to Silicon Valley. High-tech executives, in turn, look kindly on the Democrats. In 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, individuals associated with computer and Internet firms gave $40 million to politicians. Slightly more than half went to Democrats.
Unfortunately for the techies, some Democrats are not following the new program. Even more unfortunately, one of these Democrats is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. South Carolina’s Ernest “Fritz” Hollings is a proud protectionist, an eager regulator, and a steadfast ally of the trial lawyers. To the extent that the high-tech industry supported Democrats, it helped Hollings get his chairmanship. He is now returning the favor by stiffing the industry’s agenda. When the Information Technology Industry Council gave out its most recent ratings, most senators scored above 80 percent. Hollings came in dead last, at 45 percent.