The G.O.P. may have found an in with hip young people: Doesn't it suck that Big Government wants to take Uber away from you? Don't all those pesky safety regulations and background checks scream needless bureaucracy? For the voting age millennials who answer "yes," the Republican party has launched a new campaign to protect Uber from government regulations, starting with a pro-Uber petition. A R.N.C. spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal the campaign will grow in the coming months.
Republican political analysts see it as a perfect way for the party to share its free market gospel with a demographic turned off by its social platform. “It’s a way for the party to reinforce the message that here’s a private company serving a need — and the need is created because government regulation created poor services,” Trey Grayson, a former Kentucky G.O.P. official and director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard, told Politico. Republicans like Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio have been promoting Uber for months now.
The Republican National Committee's petition argues that our country "was built on the entrepreneurial spirit," and our cities deserve innovative solutions. "But across the country, taxi unions and liberal government bureaucrats are setting up roadblocks ... to block Uber from doing business in their cities," reads the petition. Of course, part of the red tape Uber faces includes safety regulations and background checks that can sometimes be worked around.
As Uber, Lyft and similar apps spread across the country, they've met resistance from taxi unions who see them as competition and local governments who consider them unlicensed cab companies. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign a bill that would require Uber drivers to get chauffeur licenses if they work 18 hours a week or more. Quinn's opponent Bruce Rauner, meanwhile, told The Daily Beast in a statement “I love Uber ... And we need a state that supports job creation—not runs it off."
While the Uber issue probably isn't going to turn Democrats into Republicans, it's clear that no one wants to be the one stymying innovations. Democrats aren't exactly calling for an end to regulations, but as Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley wrote in a statement Wednesday, they want to "ensure that our laws and regulations evolve as well — we shouldn’t try to limit a 21st-century marketplace with 20th-century regulations.” O'Malley released the statement after a state panel ruled against Uber.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.