Archive for January 2016

Techies Changing the US Elections

President Obama’s winning of the Democratic nomination in 2008 was proof of a game-changer in the political arena that he caught wind of far before his contemporaries: the use of data collection and other technological innovations for political gain. Now as 2016 is upon us, tech is calling the shots in more ways than most people should be comfortable with; social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have become some of the most direct sources of news for young to middle-aged tech users, and Youtube actually co-hosted the last Democratic debate.

So who’s really pulling the strings in America? Here’s a list of the human tech giants with the most sway:

eric schmidt1. Eric Schmidt

The executive hair of Alphabet (which owns Google), Schmidt has been given a fair amount of credit for Obama’s success. He’s acted as a tech advisor to the president and guided Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Silicon Valley and the government tend to cross swords, but Eric Schmidt is an exception to the rule. He may be the only tech titan that doubles as a DC insider, making his lobbying power all the more all-encompassing.

Schmidt’s company Alphabet spends more on lobbying than almost any other company, and he’s been more than willing to support Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

2. Justin McConney

He currently has no affiliated party, but considering this man was Donald Trump’s first directer of new media (and introduced him to Facebook and YouTube), this man clearly has quite the pull over the polls. People have been describing Trump as a web-comments thread in human form, and it’s not a bad description; he’s basically brought the politically incorrect recklessness of more commonly anonymously posted opinions to the political arena as his main weapon. Without McConney, Trump would surely have missed out on the attention he receives today, and perhaps the nominations would be looking very different.

stephanie hannon3. Stephanie Hannon

This current chief technology officer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign earned her stripes before being brought onboard the Clinton team. She was a directer of product for civic innovation and social impact at Google and helped create Google Maps and Gmail before shifting into politics. She even worked with Facebook briefly. Now she heads a team of Yelp and Google techies in amping up Hillary’s online presence, and has become the first woman to lead a presidential campaign’s tech effort.

4. & 5. Aidan King and David Frederick

These two men don’t have half the money or credentials of the others on the list; 24-year-old King works at a winery in Vermont and 33-year-old Frederick works at Crate & Barrel. Nonetheless, the two changed history simply by starting a reddit forum for Bernie Sanders. The forum not only spread the word about Bernie Sanders, but began to draw donations, which at this point have summed up to over $500,000. Their reddit forum even allowed the two to bring together over 100 Reddit readers, who together coded and built a website on Sanders’ positions, completely free of charge. That’s what grassroots politics looks like in real life.