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Fault Lines Ahead


There are few things the tech community hates more than a trial lawyer. Which is exactly what Democratic Vice Presidential pick John Edwards is: a smart lawyer whose made millions suing big companies when they screw up.
Like CEOs across the Fortune 500, too many tech entrepreneurs have been sued over falling stock prices. The recently enacted Sarbanes-Oxley corporate account legislation, with its long list of disclosures and laundry list of compliance issues for the Securities and Exchange Commission to follow, is seen as nothing more than a honey pot for the legal eagles, er, make that vultures. And it’s not just the getting sued that bothers the tech guys; it’s the bad PR over something they consider somewhat inevitable, volatile stock prices. But yeah, the expense and embarrassment of getting sued – personally – annoys them, too.

So it’s going to be really interesting to see if Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry’s decision to put Edwards on the ticket will open the gates and let the more conservative elements of the tech community finally come out loud and proud. It just might.
The fault lines here aren’t just rhetorical. Edwards, who can sweet talk the birds outta the trees as they might say in his native North Carolina, is the kind of guy who can speechify about out-sourcing and tie it directly to the losses suffered by middle-income Americans. And people follow what he’s saying. Edwards is not a fan of free trade. And he’s someone who is deeply conscious of the growing disparity between upper and lower income Americans, something tech folks aren’t exactly worried about.
Something else to think about: the traditional East Coast Democratic populism of Kerry’s main campaign consultant, Bob Shrum – the guy who was responsible for some of Al Gore’s “us v. them” lines during his unsuccessful campaign. Gore could talk like this because tech guys knew that he didn’t – not really, they thought – mean them. He meant big corporations – the guys tech is trying to disintermediate. But Gore understood tech. He still does. Kerry can’t make that claim. Neither can the White House, for that matter. So the Edwards pick isn’t exactly a clear win for them, either. But it’s a shift, a little movement that might become important in an election where it seems anything can – and does – happen.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 9:54 AM | Permalink

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