Technology is playing a bigger role than ever in the presidential race – from how the campaigns engage voters to the ways the media covers the candidates and the platforms we use to follow along. While both major candidates deserve applause for embracing technology as a campaign tool, they fall short in supporting policies that recognize technology's critical role in growing our economy.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with a fully-developed technology policy. She supports highly-skilled immigration, but any constructive legislative remedies will likely fail because she would insist that specific reform be part of a much more controversial overall immigration package. She also supports investing in STEM education to funding innovation hubs across the country, but offers no ideas on how to pay for it.
Secretary Clinton demonized different business sectors during a bruising primary process and would probably continue the direction of the Obama White House, which has generally been antagonistic to business, though favorable to technology. And once she began campaigning for president, Clinton's position on trade has become muddy.
Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson doesn't have a dedicated technology agenda like the Clinton campaign, but he has been a strong advocate for certain tech issues. He has referred to the internet as the most important tool for equality ever created and advocated for encryption, recognizing that consumers need to trust their data is legally protected.
Johnson also supports several policies that would benefit the tech sector – free trade, highly skilled immigration, reduced burdens on business, a balanced budget – and believes in letting business lead and grow the economy with minimal government interference.
Republican nominee Donald Trump has no apparent technology policy platform – something the tech sector has repeatedly asked him to share. He barely talks about tech companies, and when he does it's frequently within the anti-trade and immigration context.
Trump's fiscal proposals generally support the broader business sector – lowering the corporate tax rate, repatriating certain overseas funds, investing in infrastructure – and he promises to tackle the runaway federal bureaucracy by temporarily banning any new agency regulations.
But how can Trump be a pro-business candidate when he promises to punish China with huge tariffs and disparages the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, even though it will help the United States compete with China in key trading markets?
Our presidential candidates are quick to promise a better, stronger America. But, so far, only the Clinton campaign has engaged our country's technology community and shared a coherent policy agenda that recognizes the promise of economic growth and job creation the U.S. tech sector can deliver.
Commentary by Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. Follow him on Twitter @GaryShapiro.
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