|The new temple of American capitalism, the Apple Store |
When the history of the last decade is written Apple computers will figure at or very near the top tier of American innovation. But the truth is they have accomplished far more than meet their sales targets in the global market. Apple understood, before almost everyone else did that the future is already here.
After all, Apple is as American as apple pie. They’re a welcome reminder of the kind of forward thinking that made this nation great. And because of all of their innovation Apple are now richer than the entire nation of Poland. Think about that. Apple succeeded in the last decade because they had a vision of the future, and a tolerant open door policy that welcomed the contributions of all, not just the favored few. Those used to be ideals shared by our political leaders too.
So, at a time when so much of the nation's companies are struggling to tread water, what can learn from them? Well, we could start with what they want us to know about them. Apple wants us to know they are about imagination, aspiration, interconnectivity, simplicity and liberty. They’re a sort of capitalist expression of the American Dream.
In their Apple Stores the company consistently seeks out a real connection with the people who buy its products – regardless of their backgrounds or their purchasing power - and boy have they been successful with that outreach. By not discriminating, they have won loyalty.
Unfortunately some of us haven't got the memo yet. Certainly Mitt Romney hasn't. For him and for his family it looks and sounds like it’s still 1954. That’s why I’m predicting he will probably go down in flames in November.
And he will have richly deserved it. Because the fact is Romney and the GOP simply cannot understand the new era in which we live yet. They are holding onto to a white picket fence America that's gone with the wind, if it ever really existed in the first place.
Unless you're making over $250,000 a year it is no longer morning in America. Times have changed for the ordinary working stiffs here but for the Romney's of this world it's Groundhog Day in reverse. It's been decades since Romney made less than a million dollars in a calendar year. For him and for all the other billionaires that fund his presidential campaign things just keep improving. So really, why take a risk if you're holding all the aces? No wonder he prefers to go back to the future.
It won't work though. Because Romney, for all of his fake gosh darn it folksy charm, actually makes Ronald
Reagan look like Larry Flynt. It’s like he's permanently auditioning for a lead role in Leave It To Beaver. But the time machine ploy doesn’t work like it used to, nothing works like it used to, and that’s the challenge of the 21-century.
Times have changed but Romney's divisive politics haven't. He elevates some and condemns others. It’s a 20-century business model. It’s also the GOP's. It still gets traction in some areas, of course. In 2010, riding a wave of backward looking old-timer reactions to the transformations of the modern age, Tea Party Republicans flooded Congress with promises of jobs, jobs, jobs.
Once in power however, they unveiled their real agenda – more constitutional bans on gay marriage and bigger tax cuts for billionaires. Look at Minnesota, looks at North Carolina, look at all the mid-western states that embraced the Tea Party. You’re not seeing innovation or action on jobs in any of them, instead you’re just seeing massive political and religious tantrums because the present doesn’t look like the past.
How is this going to help us?
Quietly and unobtrusively Apple understood the global aspiration of the American Dream better than our conservative politicians and they set about selling that ideal to the entire world. They also understand America. They know that it’s changing by the minute and their business model plans for it. It’s time we all faced it, our traditions are changing, some of our children will marry people from other races, some will marry people of the same sex, and the best thing we can do is be happy for them, because we're not going to be able to change the future, but we can plan for it now – or we can get out of the way. There's simply no point in crying about how we did things in the old days, they're gone.
Who drowns and who's saved in the new economy will depend largely on his or her ability to adapt and innovate. Obviously I would like to see Apple bring manufacturing back to the United States, but there’s no denying the potency of their business practices. Quietly and unobtrusively they have colonized the planet.
President Barack Obama understands the potency of an idea when it’s hitched to aspiration and innovation.
Quietly and unobtrusively he has prevented the meltdown of our economy, he has passed the economic stimulus bill, he has passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and now entrepreneurial activity is at its highest rate in 14 years (yes, it's even higher now than was during the dot com boom). He also repealed the odious Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban and he has caught more Taliban Leaders in one month than Bush and Cheney did in six years.
Above all that he's an image of America's future. He biracial, he has close friends from all backgrounds, ethnicities and social classes; he doesn't draw distinctions between straight and gay, black and white. He's who we are now. He's America now. That's why he's already winning.