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Over at TechCrunch, Greg Ferenstein — after pointing out how little interest Silicon Valley has had in the 2016 GOP presidential candidates — offers his theory as to why American tech leans left:
I think the more likely explanation is that the nation’s new industrial titans are pro-government. Google, Facebook, and most Internet titans are fueled by government projects: the Internet began in a defense department lab, public universities educate a skilled workforce and environmental policies benefit high tech green industries. The CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, is a fan of Obamacare, which helps his entrepreneurial drivers keep their health insurance as they transition between jobs.
In other words, the Democratic party is good for emerging industries and billionaires recognize it. Donald Trump is a candidate known to go after major figures in tech; a trend that may further the Democrats friendship with new industrial titans. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve argued that the modern emerging workforce of Silicon Valley, urbanized professionals, and “gig economy” laborers all represent an entirely new political demographic redefining the Democratic party to be more about education, research and entrepreneurship, and less about regulations and labor unions.
I actually have a podcast scheduled with Ferenstein to explore these issues. A few initial observations:
1) I wonder: to what degree do social/cultural issues play a role in this?
2) The forward-looking analysis assumes stasis. But what if the Dems became more Bernie-like — including an embrace of very high tax rates, single-payer healthcare? (Sanders, like Trump, also seems afflicted with terrible case of economic nostalgia for 1960s America.) And what if the next iteration of the GOP recognizes the need for smart public investment and a modernized safety net? Certainly the tech execs I have talked to seem very concerned about regulation, an area that should be a GOP strength.
3) Will unionized teachers — a pretty important factor in Democratic politics — be down with disruptive innovation in education?
A few thoughts, more to come…