Innovators, Not Presidents, Change the Economy

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Now that we’re headed for the voting booths, the BIG discussion is which nominee will be able to change the economy. Having studied the last nine presidents and their impact on improving the economic strength and welfare of this country, the answer is clear. Neither. Presidents alone do not change the economy.

A recent Washington Post-ABC poll showed that nearly three in four Americans said the candidate’s approach to the economy will be a “major factor” in deciding between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. That’s because the common wisdom is that the president can make it all better. Or worse, depending on who is ranting at the podium. Again, the president alone cannot change the economy.

It’s really all about intersections. Past campaigns show that presidential leadership is just one of the many roads that can lead to a stronger economy. And it’s not one of the more important roads. Of all the intersections, it is the one of technological innovation that is the great disruptor, as the old, faltering economy gets out of the way for the more robust and exciting new economy.

In this case, it’s the multitude of innovations — from the Idea Economy — changing the way we do business in the old Industrial Economy. It’s the chasm between the old and the new that we’re looking into. And it’s the innovators, not the politicians, who should be elected if all we care about is changing the economy.

Let’s take a closer look at this idea. Who has changed the economy more during the last four years of President Obama’s time in office — the president or Steve Jobs? Who did more to change the way we do business and impact on the economy, President Reagan or Bill Gates?

Add to the list all the other innovators and their creations: Electricity. Light bulbs. Telephones. Mass production. Automobiles. Walmart. MacDonald’s. And so much more. Not a president in sight.

Right now, we are looking at 3-D printing, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, zettaflood data, quantum networking, homemade solar panels, robotics, artificial intelligence, and all the other innovations that are still working their way out of labs and startup companies. It’s the innovations that will change the economy. It’s the innovations that have always changed the economy. The president is just someone who takes the credit or the blame depending on how things are going.

Now, if we had a great innovator who was running for office, then maybe…

Source: “Romney edges Obama on economy, overall race deadlocked,” The Washington Post, 08/28/12
Source: “Who Really Changes The Economy?,” NPR, 08/30/12
Source: “Getting to Ten in Ten,” Real-Time Cloud, 06/07/12