Technology and the US Presidency

Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee John McCain said in a recent interview with Politico.com that he isn’t computer literate.

“I am a illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all the assistance I can get,” McCain said in this video.

At the age of 71, McCain is not unlike others of his generation. My own mother, who is near McCain’s age, is afraid to go near a computer and has no idea what an email is. According a recent study, McCain and my mother are not the only ones in America living offline, mainly due to economic and racial disparities.

From the July 2007 Pew Internet & American Life report:

– 47% of Americans have a broadband connection at home,” an increase of 5% since a year before.

– Home broadband adoption in rural areas, now 31%, continues to lag high speed
adoption in urban centers and suburbs.

– 40% of African Americans now have a broadband connection at home, a nine
percentage point increase from early 2006.

While there are many Americans who could sympathize with McCain’s lack of tecnological savvy, it is different when one is running for President. Is it really politically wise for McCain to make a public statement like this and bring attention to his age again, just when voters were finally starting to look at the differences between him and Barack Obama on issues?

History has shown that understanding the power of technology can make or break a presidential career.

Slackers:

-George H. W. Bush lost the 1992 election because he had no understanding of supermarket scanners.

-Richard Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy because JFK had a better understanding of how to use the new technology of TV during their infamous 1959 Presidential debate.

Innovators:

– John F. Kennedy’s commitment to the space race continues to resonate in today’s technology

– Bill Clinton, not “Internet Inventor” Al Gore, helped pave the way for the dot com boom that created today’s tech giants like Yahoo and Google. I

Much of Barack Obama’s success has come from his use of social networks like Facebook to fundraise millions of dollars. While former Presidential candidate Howard Dean was the first major politician to use the Internet for a campaign in 2004, Obama has taken this to a whole new level, by also engaging young people and communities of color, populations that generally lack political engagement, to take an interest in politics.

Furthermore, the next President can not afford to lack computer literacy. With India and China becoming tech giants in the global economy, the future of America is dependent on staying on ahead of the digital curve.

I hope Mrs. McCain will read this post to her husband

Posted in Tech Life and tagged .

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