Reddit’s political passions tend to burn hot and cool down fast. But one group of politically savvy users are turning the social news site into a lasting political force.
They’ve set up an official Political Action Committee (PAC).
The PAC was inspired by Reddit’s successful GoDaddy boycott earlier this year. It’s called Test PAC: Please Ignore (the name is a play on an inside Reddit joke), and it’s already raised more than $7,000 since January. When the Daily Dot profiled the organization earlier this year, organizers still hadn’t settled on a single objective.
Now they have: Unseat Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) sponsor Lamar Smith, the congressman from Texas’ 21st congressional district.
And its creators already have a real plan to do so.
“What we aim to do is a bit unorthodox: use Texas’ semi-open primary system to edge Smith out in favor of another Republican candidate,” the PAC claims. It continues:
“This means that Republicans, Independents and Democrats can participate in the choosing of either party’s candidate in the primary election.”
In a region of Texas that leans heavily Republican, organizers figure Democrats don’t have a chance in the general election. So they’re launching an advertising campaign encouraging Democrats and Independents to vote against Smith in the primaries. They’ve already raised enough money for buy billboard space in Smith’s congressional district and are currently accepting design proposals.
Smith became Reddit’s most-hated politician last year thanks to his sponsorship of SOPA, the anti-piracy bill that many critics claimed would censor the Internet and hamstring its technological underpinnings. (“Lamar Smith is killing the Internet,” reads the PAC’s mock-up billboard design, pictured above).
Smith’s most prominent opponent in the primary is Sherriff Richard Mack, who redditors have frequently championed but largely failed to support financially. (Mack has only managed to raise about $4,000, even with the help of nearly 100 posts on Reddit and a community devoted solely to getting him elected, r/SheriffMack4Congress.)
Test PAC diverts attention from Mack. Organizers clearly figure getting a vote against Smith is easier than getting a vote for mack.
A single billboard won’t end Lamar Smith’s political career. But it just might get the metaphorical snowball rolling.
Could this be Reddit’s political moment?
Correction: Test PAC is not a super PAC, as an earlier version of this story suggested. Its legal donation limit is $5,000. It has additionally imposed a limt of $999 on donations it accepts.