Sergey Brin's political bonfire

<b>commentary</b> The Google co-founder bemoans the "bonfire of partisanship" that has gripped Washington. Perhaps he wants to move into the political arena to make a bigger contribution to the country.

Dan Farber
3 min read
Google's search page doodle on Election Day.

It's election day in America, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin isn't happy about the situation. In a Google + post he wrote:

...no matter what the outcome, our government will still be a giant bonfire of partisanship. It is ironic since whenever I have met with our elected officials they are invariably thoughtful, well-meaning people. And yet collectively 90% of their effort seems to be focused on how to stick it to the other party.

He pleaded with the victors in today's election to "please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit. It is probably the biggest contribution you can make to the country."

Read: Sergey Brin: Put out 'giant bonfire of partisanship

Brin's frustration with the gridlock on important issues the country is facing must have bubbled over, since he is far more comfortable talking about Google Glass and driverless cars. He wason hand with California Gov. Jerry Brown to tout the signing of  SB 1298, which establishes safety and performance standards for vehicles operated by computers on California roads and highways.

Screenshot by Charles Cooper/CNET

Brin's concerns about partisanship were on display in Steve Kroft's Sunday 60 Minutes interview with Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid (watch the video):

Steve Kroft: But you haven't worked together. You have lots of important things to consider. Why can't you get together and agree on what to do about these major issues? Why can't you come up with a compromise?

Harry Reid: We've run into a situation here where compromise is not part of what we do around here anymore. Now on your program, 60 Minutes, Speaker of the House Representatives John Boehner said, "I reject the word compromise." That's exactly what he said, my friend Sen. McConnell, 'the single-most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.' And that's what's happened this last year and a half.

Mitch McConnell: Compromise is sometimes very difficult. My 47 members of the Senate have very different views from Harry and his colleagues about how much government we ought to have, how much taxation we ought to have, how much regulation we ought to have. It is not easy to reach agreement when you have very different views, Steve, of the direction the country ought to take.

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who plans to leave the Senate when his term is up, gave Kroft his immoderate solution to the gridlock:  "The best thing that could happen is all of us lose and send some people up here who care more about the country than they do their political party or their position in politics." 

It's unclear whether President Obama in his second term or Gov. Romney in a first term as president can bridge the partisan gap or reduce the antipathy between the two parties. With the close race, neither will be given a clear mandate in the popular or electoral vote. 

It's uncertain what Brin will do when his plea goes unanswered by the victors. Will he continue to campaign for a more independent and bipartisan Congress, and a new spirit of compromise, to do the work of the people. Or will he just focus his attention on futuristic technologies that could change the world, in addition to trying to grab as much market share from Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook as possible? 

Brin has some experience in governing a large population. Google is a large, virtual country with more than a billion people who use its products and give its servers petabytes of detailed and monetizable personal data.

Of course, on the Google planet there is no haggling over trillion dollar deficits, job creation, wars and other complex, world balancing issues. But as Brin once said, "Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world."