With election day fast approaching and Americans running to the polls to cast their vote for the next president of the United States, I thought it was an appropriate time to discuss when (if ever) technology will take center stage in American politics.
Maybe I have a vested interest in seeing technology take center stage in American politics. After all, I believe that it's the most important industry in the world, thanks to the Internet and the billions of dollars it generates for the economy each year, but I know many disagree. Some say that the health care industry matters more than technology and others believe the environmental industry takes the cake. Good arguments can be made for any industry, but I think more politicians need to see the value of technology.
The Internet is the lifeblood of the world. Without it, we would be thrown back into the Stone Age. Why? The world runs on it. In just a few short years, the Web has become as important to our lives as water. Can you imagine what would happen if the Internet suddenly disappeared? Almost every single company in the world would be crippled. The entire online industry would die in one day and the stock market would crash. We would be sent into financial turmoil and start fighting over scraps as supermarkets and stores became unable to communicate with vendors.
Now, I understand that and I'm betting you do too. But when will politicians finally realize that caring about technology really does matter and they can't just set it aside like it's a fringe concern?
Unfortunately, I don't believe technology will ever take center stage in American politics. It's too difficult of an issue for politicians who need to worry about war, poverty, and health to even consider caring about in a difficult campaign. And let's face it--more pressing issues usually come up that put technology on the back burner.
But just because that happens, it doesn't make it right.
Look, I'm the first one to say that politicians should care deeply about war and the implications of sending our troops overseas and I fully believe that we should care about the well-being of our citizens. But the economy is just as important as those issues, and technology, in my opinion, is the most important sector in our economy.
And yet, neither John McCain nor Barack Obama have spent considerable time talking about technology or how to help start-ups in Silicon Valley grow. Neither candidate has discussed the implications of the U.S. having some of the slowest broadband speeds among developed countries in the world. Neither candidate has said much about how their friends in Congress were instrumental in creating laws and tax codes that make it absolutely impossible for a smart CEO to launch an IPO, and in the process, ruin our ability to compete across the world.
It's easy to discuss the issues we face now. The economy is in trouble, there are wars being waged across the world, and more people are losing their jobs with each passing day. But what about the significant issues we face five to ten years from now when the technology industry is being hammered by draconian policies and questionable regulations? By then, it might be too late.
The United States is supposed to be the world's leader. But how can we expect to maintain that title if our own leaders don't recognize the position they've put us in?
I may be talking to myself and chances are, not one politician will listen, but I'm calling on every politician who cares about this country and wants to see the U.S. succeed economically to recognize the policy mistakes that are being made and develop a real understanding for this industry so they can right those wrongs.
If they don't, we will face an economic and political crisis that could have serious implications long into the future.