Tech managers usually adopt an “ignore politics” attitude. Overall it has worked OK for us over the years, because demand for our products and services has continued to grow no matter which idiot gets elected.
Ignoring politics also allows tech leaders to remain happily aloof from Uncle Bob’s dinner table rants about the guv’mint, or Nephew’s Nathan’s leftist tendencies. Entitlement above the fray and all the while continuing to make lots of money is nice.
But This Idiot is Different
But Trump’s policies if enacted would be a huge to hit to the tech industry. Nothing Clinton proposes is anywhere close to the danger Trump represents to us:
- Anti-immigration. American tech needs talent from all over the world. About half of tech startup CEOs are immigrants. Our markets are often naturally global, and almost always sold to all cultures and genders. Tech needs people from all over the globe, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, cosmopolitan, many of whom have endured great risks and hardship to get here. They are striving to improve their lives and families — and improving America, too.
- Anti-trade. American tech sources material from all over the work. Global sourcing is essential for price competition. Policies of tariff and trade retaliation deny comparative advantage and ignore basic economics.
- Anti-minority. Trump is the white male power candidate. His election will guarantee decades of continued social strife and disruption to our business practices, and institutionalize insults to the modern workforce.
- Anti-female. The boorishness and misogyny of the candidate and his supporters is appalling (c.f., this recording of his supporters.)
- Anti-fiscal-restraint. His spending proposals are reckless (c.f., this Economist article). But then lying and pretending facts don’t matter is his style.
- Anti-peace. Outside of defense contractors, tech makes money through peaceful trade and cultural exchange. The last time the world shut itself in and closed borders was the 1930’s, and there followed a world war that killed over 100 million. I like to shoot a gun as much as the next guy, but the fetishization of guns and the subsequent violence will reach new heights.
- Anti-environment. Science denial (reality denial is probably a better term), and environmental degradation will become national policy.
- Anti-open-Internet. Rejecting global open internet governance threatens the very foundation of our future markets. We never owned the Internet. His ignorance is profound and typical.
No Excuse for Silence
The GOP’s failure as a party to prevent this unqualified train-wreck is no excuse to stay quiet. If tech sits this election out, it will have only itself to blame if Trump is elected.
I suspect most tech CEOs are just aloof, or afraid of retaliation if they say something. At least Meg Whitman has shown some spine. Other big company CEOs are not putting any money behind Trump even if they are not speaking out. Or they think they can buy a waiver from the new administration Republicans. Only ego-maniacal white male tech executives allow themselves to be impressed with Trump. (e.g., the head of Oculus, and Peter Thiel, of course).
But then again, the biggest firms have their army of lobbyists, and can always move assets offshore if that fails. Small company leaders like myself don’t have those options.
Trump will be a disaster for the tech industry. Open your mouths and your wallets now. Talk to your employees and explain what is at stake. I doubt Trump will waste his school-girl tweets and taunts on us; we don’t have enough followers. And if he does, it would be an honor.