Manufacturing rose during the Progressive Era, ruled during the New Deal era, and fell during the era of Nixon. Oil rose during the New Deal era, ruled during the Nixon era, and is falling now during the Obama era.
The same pattern holds for technology. Technology rose during the Nixon era, and now is its time to rule. That is not a fate it can escape. The alternative is too dismal to contemplate, continuing political domination by industries and people antithetical to tech’s interests, like the Koch brothers, whose money comes from energy and manufacturing.
As an industry rises, what it most wants from government is to be left alone. As it rules it first wants to eliminate other interests’ interference in its progress, and then seeks to maintain that control in defiance of larger economic trends. That’s what is behind the larger political cycles of American politics, and it has been since our nation’s founding. The business of America remains business, and that is at the heart of our global leadership. Lose that and we fail. So does everyone in this country.
So 2016 is a very important year for technology’s leaders. For people like Bill Gates, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg, who have become wealthier than anyone can imagine during this decade, now is the time to step up.
That doesn’t mean writing a check. There are important issues that they need to become far more deeply involved in than they are. There is a political agenda to be defined and pursued.