The Presidential Election and John Chambers

John Chambers former Cisco CEO
John Chambers, World Economic Forum

Why can’t it be John Chambers running for President? On CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning, the Executive Chairman and former CEO of Cisco Systems said he’s a moderate Republican.  And yet he spoke admiringly about Bill Clinton’s 8 years as President.  When, Chambers said, 22.5 million jobs were created. And there was 17% growth in real per capita income. The Information Age. The last time, Chambers added, America got a pay raise.

Fast forward to the current election cycle. We’re in the Digital Age. Which Chambers thinks could have the same effect on America and its people.  Only 3 to 5 times larger. Except – he says – the US is missing the bandwagon. Unable to move fast enough to create the start-ups needed if middle America is to benefit.   Because business and government have to work together to make a digital plan. Something we don’t have — but every other country in the world does according to Chambers. And is implementing them. Quickly. Even countries with recalcitrant unions and socialist leanings. Like France. They have a meeting or 2 or 10. With the relevant players. How do we create a million new business jobs? What tax reform is needed? How do we “re-skill” (Chamber’s interesting substitute for “retrain”) the unemployed and underemployed? The middle class? What about childhood education? Then you walk away Chambers said — and come back 6 months later. And it’s done.

As I said — why couldn’t John Chambers be on the ballot in November?

When I look around me at this country — I see political stalemate instead of cooperation. And no urgency to change. A Congress controlled by one party determined to thwart anything suggested by the President from the other party. And vice versa. A legislative system completely broken  At best a government treading water. And business? The thinkers like Chambers are in Washington this week. Trying to pound some sense into everyone. The rest are mostly making apologies to Wall Street for a bunch of less than stellar quarterly reports. Any US digital plan is far, far from the top of the agenda. Again – my thoughts – not Chambers’.

We haven’t even gotten to the general election itself yet. It’s still primary season. And yet we are already battle weary.  Our ears plugged against the insults hurled party to party and candidate to candidate. Instead of the serious discussions we so desperately need. And it can only get worse.

John Chambers says 92% of the jobs created over the next decade will require some kind of technology skills. In both the service industry and in manufacturing. Requiring the courage to make fundamental changes in order to fill most of those jobs with American middle class workers earning real American middle class wages. Chambers and his co-business thinkers have some ideas. Some possible plans. But it seems to me no one who can do anything about implementing those plans is listening. Or more to the point — acting.

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