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Silicon Valley's March on Washington
California's Übernerds Get Political

The tech industry is growing, and so are the political ambitions of its luminaries. In California’s race for the 17th Congressional District chair, the giants of Silicon Valley have made their choice of candidate clear. Executives from Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, among other tech firms, have endorsed Democratic candidate Ro Khanna, a relatively unknown patent lawyer, in a primary challenge to seven-term Representative Michael Honda, a fellow Democrat. The NYT has the story:

“The tech community is looking for advocates who will be really, really outspoken for tech, and Ro fits that mold,” said Ron Conway, who is one of the industry’s most influential investors and is backing Mr. Khanna. While it is unusual for tech leaders to rally in such a way around a candidate, Mr. Conway added, “I’m hoping it’s a wave of the future that continues, because it’s crucial for the tech community to have a really active voice in Washington.” […]

In a fund-raiser for Mr. Khanna last year, Sean Parker, a founder of Napster, is seen in a video shot by The San Francisco Chronicle saying, “I think we’re starting to come into a realization of our own power and of our own capability, not just as innovators and technology pioneers, but also in a political sense.”

One interesting thing to note here is that Honda is no slouch himself when it comes to looking out for the interests of Silicon Valley. But the techies are beginning to feel their own growing power and influence, and evidently they now think they’ve found an even better representative of their interests.

Some may be tempted to see this growing influence as sinister. To be sure, like all special interests, the techies will sometimes be short sighted and greedy. But on the whole the needs of this industry align with those of the nation. Deepening and accelerating the information revolution is America’s best hope for a greener, more affluent, and more humane economy; it also offers the best hope for a more secure future from the standpoint of military power.

That doesn’t mean that every tech endorsed candidate or issue is good for the country, or that the Über-nerds understand their own or the country’s interests as well as they think that they do. But the rise and maturation of the tech lobby is an important aspect of America’s ongoing reinvention, and one that deserves our attention.

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  • Anthony

    Both politics and economics (giants of Silicon Valley) deal with the material survival, prosperity, and well being of people; both deal with first conditions of social life – the relationship between politics and economics is never neutral. So, on one level Google, Yahoo, and Facebook executives are following natural capitalist progression. No surprise there WRM.

  • Fat_Man

    They have, by and large, been Obama supporters. This is not evidence of political savvy.

  • vepxistqaosani

    This is really disturbing only if, like me, you’re a software guy over 50. We’re all being laid off so that the Übernerds can claim there’s a shortage of technical talent and get Congress to give them more H1B visas so they can hire (what amounts to) indentured servants.

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