After watching the 2012 election, three California technologists, Garrett Johnson, Chris Abrams, and Aaron Ginn founded Lincoln Labs because they knew that when it came to political technology, conservatives could not sit back and wait for others to begin applying the most modern techniques to campaigns and government.
They realized that too often, the people in Washington, DC charged with raising and spending resources on behalf of conservatives and libertarians don’t know how technology can and should be utilized.
“We’d sat through too many meetings where even the most basic language of technology was met with blank stares and glazed eyes,” one of the co-founders, Garrett Johnson said. “Those who are ostensibly in charge, know nothing about how technologists operate–Silicon Valley is a place to be talked about in press releases and for fundraising visits.”
Too often, the digital space in politics is an after-thought among conservatives; rather than the fulcrum around which campaigns and efforts revolve as a complete, efficient unit. Bureaucracy, profit motive, ignorance, and fear swamp any possible forward momentum on this front.
In Silicon Valley, failure is a way of life. Only one out of a hundred startups will succeed. But more and more young entrepreneurs take that chance–because failing isn’t the largest sin. Failure teaches us how to work better–teaches us to sharpen our ideas and operations and ultimately build better products for consumers.
In Washington, the fear of failure is not just a roadblock, but is often the reason to avoid trying new things. The devil they know and understand is far better than the one they don’t. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars flowing through political channels each year, only a pittance is directed toward developing new and better products for the political sphere.
From July 18th-20th, Lincoln Labs will host its first annual conference–Reboot–in San Francisco. Leaders such as Senator Rand Paul, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and California gubernatorial nominee Neel Kashkari will discuss their visions for how technology can and should contribute to fixing our biggest problems. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are contributing videos.
It is expected that a great number of those in attendance will be from the political and policy spaces. During the conference, hopefully those from the political space will begin understanding how the innovation culture operates and take some ideas home with them when they leave.
The founders of Lincoln Labs live, work, and breathe technology on a daily basis–having worked for startups and they understand what it means to create jobs and services on a limited budget, with limited time, and knowing that the market will ultimately determine our success or failure.
Now, it is time to follow in the immortal words of Thomas Paine, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” There is a critical mass of young, energetic “conservatarian” leaders in Silicon Valley and other technology hubs around the country. But we must begin in earnest to cultivate them and their talents–to understand why and how they operate and appreciate the contributions we need them to make.
In San Francisco, nearly 200 hackers will work 24 hours straight at the headquarters of social activism start-up Brigade to develop products suggested by the conference’s attendees. On Saturday night, they will have the opportunity to display their hard work.
Hopefully what is discussed and created will extend past those in the room–and those new to the tech space will pay attention. Those living 3000 miles away inside the Beltway would do well to realize the untapped resource they have waiting for them–if they would just open their eyes and open their ears.
Reed Galen is a political consultant in California. He was John McCain’s deputy campaign manager until 2007 and was deputy campaign manager for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 reelection campaign. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the Lincoln Labs Reboot conference, visit www.lincolnlabs.com and click on the ‘Conference’ tab.