Why Vote Obama: Innovation

Here is why I voted for Obama:

1) We cannot win a war in the Middle East; we at best can only keep the peace.  I have been studying the region on and off for a year and, having also studied Japanese and Japanese History, it is clear that tribal loyalty trumps all else (Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem was a real eye opener) .  Even between the Shia and Sunni conflict, there are tribal conflicts within each Islamic sect that have been going on for centuries.  The only time there was true peace in the Middle East was under the Ottoman empire and that was through a dictatorship (what is really necessary until tribalism is weeded out).  I could go into more depth, but is important to mention that we were able to occupy Japan peacefully only because the Samurai class took military control over tribes centuries before we arrived.  There were no tribal tendencies for people to “cling to” when the US officially occupied Japan.  We are in the Middle East and foreign intervention has time and time again caused more uprising than change: Russia, Israel and the US have all fled because of insurgency.  Sound familiar?  General Petreaus is a smart cookie and he will even not use the “V” word (perhaps for a reason). We need to get out of Iraq (BTW – We very much thank the men and women serving in the armed forces and respect you for your valor, honor and duty to the United States of America). 

2) We need to innovate our way toward energy independence, not fight out way out.  We need an energy revolution!  Barack Obama is the only Green candidate truly for Energy Independence.  The only idea that the Republican’s have is to “drill our way out,” which is needed but not an end all solution.  They are talking about “everything above” but have voted against alternative energy, especially McCain.  Having worked in Oil & Gas, there are two things I know: #1) We all could be driving natural gas vehicles which was a big industrial initiative in the early 1990s.  It died because oil companies did not have incentive to invest in the distribution, nor did the DOE mandate that local governments comply with government NGV fleet conversions put into law by congress (not sure exactly why, but it clearly died because of a lack of incentive for BOTH oil companies and auto makers).  #2) By drilling and producing oil offshore, we would be importing necessary technologies from Norway, France and the UK.  We lost the offshore race 30 years ago to the Norwegians, who now have the highest standard of living in the world!  That race is over and we would still continue to be dependent on foreign (albeit friendly) technologies for our energy.  (Norway nationalized energy and redistributed wealth much like Palin did in Alaska.  Is this not what McCain and Palin call socialism?  Sorry, had to comment on this.)

In this race, the Democrats and Barack Obama totally get the need for Energy Independence and have (in my mind at least) what it takes to create an Energy Revolution that will restore our economy and eliminate our dependence on oil from countries that harbor terrorism.  Here is why I think this: During the Democratic Convention I witnessed inspiring and optimistic speeches from the likes of Mark Warner (former Governor of Virginia who helped build the cell phone industry) and Brian Schweitzer (Governor of Montana with new ideas on energy independence).  From a past perspective, the bench strength and experience Democrats have from their work enabling the information technology revolution, which led to the largest economic expansion in the history of the world (dot-com boom), is impressive to say the least.  Ironically, this, and many other Clinton & Gore research initiatives (i.e. robotics, smart roads, biotechnology, machine tools, magnetic-levitation trains) were met with skepticism from critics (Republicans?) claiming they would “create whole new categories of waste.”  In hindsight, the Clinton administration created policies for, and investments in information technology that lead the way for America to hit a serious home run: The Internet Revolution.  How many new billion dollar companies were created as a result (ie. Google, Yahoo, Amazon.com and eBay)?

The economy was so good in the late 1990s that restaurants in Cleveland had a hard time finding employees because they moved up the job food chain.  One successful restaurant I frequented in Solon, OH was randomly closed as result (not sure if it caused their eventual demise).  During the early 1990s I lived in San Francisco as the Internet bubble was building.  I left in 1995 and went back to visit during a business trip at the height of the bubble in 1999.  What I witnessed was interesting; the college students and locals that worked at the bars and restaurants were all but replaced by immigrants.  They too moved up the food chain.  Pretty amazing to compare that with today’s economy.

We need to lead the world in Alternative Energy Technologies that we can export, similar to how we led the Internet Revolution.  It’s vitally important for our economy and national security (the Pentagon recently acknowledged that high energy costs are indeed a threat).  The Democrats and Obama totally “get this” and have a chance to legislate new energy policies and investments (Sorry, the free market approach is not enough if you can’t tell already.)  Importantly, Obama stands alone at the moment with a plan to invest $150 billion on new technologies and innovations that can help us realize an energy independent and clean America.  I’m afraid that this is going to take more than helping Joe the Plumber; we need vision and a plan. 

3) The Democrats and Barack Obama “get” innovation and Entrepreneurs, while the Republicans want more CEOs and Joe the Plumbers.  Okay, they are important, but we need a lot more (energy) Entrepreneurs, thank you.

After observing both party’s conventions, and listening to the debates, I am far more convinced by what the Obama camp presents versus that of McCain as it relates to Entrepreneurship.  Basically, I see a CEO GOP team taking jabs at their rival’s supposed lack of experience and questioning Obama’s association with terrorists?  Certainly no disrespect meant towards McCain’s honor and valor, but where is the imagination and vision?  There are no NEW ideas on how to create a new future for America (other than war, Joe the Plumber and “Drill Baby Drill”) coming from the McCain and Palin ticket.  Rudy Geuliani, Mitt Romney, Carly Florina (Former HP CEO), Meg Whitman (eBay CEO) and Joe the Plumber represent only three things – tax cuts, “drill baby drill,” and more war.  Again, no leadership or vision for the real Entrepreneurship and an Energy Revolution that this country desperately needs to survive and thrive in the future.  (Ironically, Meg Whitman never would have had a job at eBay if it was not for the proliferation of the Internet and the founder of eBay, Pierre M. Omidyar.) Why wasn’t Pierre present at the GOP convention?  Hmm.

On the other hand, Obama, Mark Warner and Brian Schweitzer (Democrats) “get” innovation, know what it takes to build new industries and support Entrepreneurship (in addition to small business).  It takes leadership, a commitment through legislation, smart investments and tax incentives, which Obama not only has a plan for, but is backed by party support and vision, as well.  It could not be more clear on what is needed.

Judge for yourself.

John McCain

Barack Obama

PS – Here is an interesting article on use of the Internet and how one party “gets it” and the other does not.  I think it says a lot about which party really gets the future. Oh, and my lovely wife Caryl, Ohio School Social Worker of the Year 2006, is voting for Obama because of his policies on education, health care, his stand on the Iraq War and his skills in diplomacy and unifying America.  Oh, and these people are also voting for Obama (Colin PowellScott McClellanWilliam Buckley Jr.Thomas Friedman). Okay Tom, I know you have not completely come out for Obama, but I would be really surprised if you didn’t. 

Happy voting!


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