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.

Please follow and like us:

The Presidential Candidates and Me

Podium before GOP Debate Las Vegas
Podium, Las Vegas (AP Photo/John Locher)

Oh. You didn’t ask what I think about the current political scene? Well that’s certainly never stopped me.

In the wake of the latest GOP presidential candidate debate on CNN – the one on foreign policy and homeland security – I’m thinking of going into deep hiding. The rest of the 2016 presidential race  – only just getting started really with the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary coming up in February – should be a doozy.

And it’s not just the Republicans.  I’m not exactly thrilled by anyone who’s running on either side. I’d like to see a third party.  Drawing from the country’s majority moderates. And supporting  less “required” dogma for the parties’ base.

The problem as I see it is the whole primary system. It encourages what we’re seeing in the GOP – a lot of outrageous, “I’m in charge”  comments with no real actionable  policies behind them. Senator Rand Paul – the Libertarian – sometimes seemed the only reasonable voice in the tough-guy babel. Mildly pointing out that one candidate after another would violate the Constitution. Or take us into World War 3.

On the Democratic side – there’s Senator Bernie Sanders. With his well-meaning but costly and unrealistic ideas which have never worked. It’s unfortunate but the relatively unskilled jobs paying middle class wages – beloved by the unions – are not coming back. Nor are the big corporations going to stop combining and getting bigger. What can happen is better, more targeted education for today’s young people. And more targeted retraining for workers left behind in the rush to the internet of things.

That leaves Hillary Clinton. Who seems at this point an overwhelming force headed toward the Democratic presidential nomination. Right now – paired against any of the likely GOP candidates – Clinton is the only candidate on either side who has the real world experience to (perhaps) deal with the highly complicated mess the world seems to be in now. She’s been in the White House, she’s been a Senator, she’s been Secretary of State.  Of the Republicans, only Senator Marco Rubio seems to have any understanding of the world outside the US. He sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. And at least from what I’ve heard in debates and interviews he seems to be highly  intelligent.  Once he gets past the primaries controlled by the evangelicals and tea party  types –  he might come up with some reasonable ideas.

No Republican is going to stray far from the party line on macro issues like guns, abortion, education, immigration (total reform of which may be beyond any politician) etc. But I’m much more concerned with geo-politics and the migration crisis. How to deal with China’s rising prominence. How to handle Russia – who’s seeming “Leader for Life” Vladimir Putin is perhaps the most dangerous man on the planet right now. And of course how to destroy ISIS.  Before it completely destroys the Middle East.

Unfortunately ISIS or its successor (and until the core problems of the Middle East are solved there will be a successor) will keep radicalizing some Muslim citizens of countries like France, Belgium, Britain and the US as long as we – the dominant society – make those other citizens feel like outsiders. And having a presidential candidate talking about registering all US  members of the Muslim faith and closing the gates to all other Muslims doesn’t help.

Internal (homeland) security is not why I will ultimately vote for a candidate. We’ve been living with this same  threat since 9/11.  Actually well before but intelligence agencies were (and maybe still are) incapable of connecting the dots. It always takes something bad to wake us up.

I’m really afraid some of these issues are just unsolvable. By anyone in the West. How you get the Saudis and Iranians to agree to actually do something constructive about the Middle East?

No, you didn’t ask what I think. But I’m as angry as everyone else. And as afraid as everyone else. And I’m mostly afraid we’re about to have a Presidential election season which can only make everything worse.

 

 

Please follow and like us: