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"Presidential Debates Should Be on Bravo Not ABC News" in Humanizing Tech

How our American election has turned into a reality TV show

I. Overview

Last night while watching the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, I came to a startling realization. Namely, that I had seen the sort of back and forth, he-said, she-said ping pong somewhere else before. And then it hit me. On Bravo.

I wasn’t watching a respectful Presidential debate as we had seen during the days of Lincoln, JFK, or even the Gipper. Rather, what I was watching was the Real Housewives of Washington DC play out on the world stage. This is a real program. Seriously. I wasn’t expecting to Keep up with the Kardashians last night.

At least, that’s how the first half of the debate went. There was nay a discussion on a single real issue. There was an opening statement by both sides that didn’t address the question at hand. There wasn’t a plan discussed on how we’re going to achieve all these promises. But we’ve come to expect that, because of social media, you can say pretty much anything you want.

Some of the things that have been said during this election, would result in you being fired if you were an employee in corporate America.

II. A Politician or Product Manager

I was expecting to hear how each felt about foreign policy, our current national debt, taxation of the rich and middle class, the defense budget, and a show of overwhelming dedication to this country. In short, I was expecting to hear how each person had a single initiative and a plan to fix that problem while in office.

I was not, however, expecting to hear that the most popular discussion on Facebook (a weird way to side-step the most critical issues for discussion in a political debate) was about a video of Trump many years ago discriminating against women.

Clearly, it’s something that’s unacceptable, but isn’t this the time to talk about how we plan to maintain our energy independence from countries that house a terrorist threat? Or how we plan to improve the health care insurance system so we keep the current benefits of Obamacare while also reducing the cost to middle-income earners? Or maybe just how we plan to fight against small terrorist cells called ISIS that are, as Trump put it, creating the biggest Trojan Horse of all time?

As I think about being President and running a campaign, I begin to see many parallels to Product Management. Because you have to:

  1. Set a theme for your roadmap (read: campaign)
  2. List out your top priorities (e.g., defense, health care, taxes)
  3. Describe your decision-making process for dealing with trade-offs (i.e., we only have enough money to tackle health care or defense, but not both)

There was clearly only one of the two candidates who showed aspects of these qualities. One clearly had a much better grasp of the intracacies of political office. The 1,000s of trade-offs you must internalize before making a decision, the being-influential-without-authority aspect of product management, and effecting calm when everyone else is in a state of chaos because the “app went down”.

In short, only one of the two candidates possessed what, I believe, are the necessary qualifications to be hired as the Chief Product Officer of the United States of America.

III. The Political Position I’m Taking

I’m just going to come out and say it. Trump is unfit to be President of the United States. When your own political party disavows you, you know something’s wrong. It’s a vote of no confidence. If you read no further into that, or the similar headline of USA Today that has never taken a political side in it’s unbiased history, then you should not vote for Trump.

So it ain’t Trump.

There’s an old test when hiring someone for a job. It’s the asshole test. Or the would-I-grab-a-beer-with-you test. Ask yourself a simple question. Is Trump a good guy? Does he have a good heart? Could you trust him to come to the ER when the chips were down and you needed someone to come help?

For me, that answer is a resounding no. So no, I’m not going to hire Trump for the Chief Product Officer position of this organization that I’ve spent my entire 35-year life living and working inside.

That only leaves two other options. Either don’t vote at all and abstain, or vote for Hillary.

If you abstain, that means each vote in favor of Trump counts more. Sure you can choose to not participate if you feel nobody holds the virtues of the American Presidency. But what it really means is that you’re voting for Trump.

So that really means you need to vote.

You might like Hillary or you might not. You might agree with some of her policies or you might not. You might consider the fact that 51% of the American (and global, for that matter) population is female and think that it’s finally time we get a voice in there that represents the majority of our citizens. You might have issue with emails, or you might not.

But if you don’t vote for Hillary or you don’t vote at all, you’re actually voting for Trump. That’s a pretty easy Product Management decision.

Me, I don’t much care about the past or personal situations. Because in technology the fastest way to lose is to look backwards. But it does give you a vector, or a line, of where someone is headed. You look at Donald’s line and you look at Hillary’s line. You look at someone who has dedicated his or her life to the country, regardless of reason, and you look at someone who’s built a bunch of real estate and been through bankruptcy a bunch of times.

You look at someone who’s been trusted for decades with our top national secrets, been in position of influence and power during tumultuous times like 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden’s capture, and been at the negotiation table with foreign powers many times. And then you look at someone else.

I’m not going to hire a Chief Product Officer to run my startup that’s raised trillions of dollars in capital when that person has no experience, has no network, and is going to “learn on the job”. I have a fiduciary responsibility to the investors and limited partners to not go bankrupt. Either financially or morally.

Here’s another thought experiment. Do you want to report to a manager at your job who doesn’t understand your business? Would you respect him or her to make the right decisions and value your contributions?

Not even a fast food restaurant would hire a manager who’s never worked a day in fast food before. So there’s no way I’m hiring someone who’s never worked a day at the job to run my “startup”.

IV. A Message to Our Foreign Friends

Over the years I’ve worked with remote teams all over the world. People in India, Japan, Spain, England, Italy, France, Germany, and Latin America. Some of them bring up the current political climate and the election, asking about my thoughts.

To them, I say simply: America likes entertainment. Honestly, most humans do. Unfortunately, sometimes that means whomever yells the loudest on social media (I call it the Kanye effect) sometimes gets the most attention. It’s not the scientists, the artists, or the creators who toil away in silence every day who get the much deserved attention. No, it’s the loud people.

And one of our candidates is simply an entertainer. He’s not a real politician and not a “real” Presidential candidate. He doesn’t stand up to the office put forth by Washington, Lincoln, FDR, JFK, or the Gipper. He’s just loud.

Most of the educated folks I speak to inside America recognize this fact, just like you do. It’s clear as day.

So am I voting? Yes. Who am I voting for?

I’m with Hillary.

Because she doesn’t just talk about issues. She understands them cold. Just like a great Product person. And get this, she has a plan to get there, just like a great project manager.

Hey Trump. You’re fired.

— Sean

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Presidential Debates Should Be on Bravo Not ABC News was originally published in Humanizing Tech on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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from Stories by Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/2dFGbyU