As the dust settles on Donald Trump’s upset victory last month, a veritable Who’s Who of tech will be descending on Trump Tower in New York today to discuss the future of Silicon Valley with our new President-Elect. It is bound to be an uncomfortable affair – the tech community at large has long voiced worries that Trump’s economic and social policies may upend the American technology sector as we know it.
And the concern is valid – technology and national politics have grown increasingly intertwined over the last decade. Howard Dean may have been the first White House hopeful to harness social media, but Barack Obama famously took tech-savvy campaigning to new heights four years later, when he released campaign videos on Facebook, posted on-the-road updates via Twitter, and uploaded rousing speeches to YouTube. He recruited previously uninspired voters to his movement in record numbers – by November, he had garnered 5 million followers on 15 social networks.
With Obama’s 2008 election (and subsequent 2012 re-election), technology became an established player in American politics. Instead of standing on a pedestal and entreating us to come closer, Obama met us halfway in the digital worlds we already lived in. He used technology to commune with us, to share the contagious mantra that “Yes We Can.” Without question, technology helped catalyze the election of the nation’s first black president.