Free Speech

What does this have to do with BI? Absolutely nothing. But bear with me.

Seal of the President of the United States

Politics. Sex. Religion.

These are topics that are generally avoided in polite conversation. And in information technology blogs. But I needed to finish this blog post before Netflix goes out of business before Leo Apotheker runs another company into the ground before Feature Pack 3 goes GA before any more candidates drop out of the United States presidential race.

The following is not a partisan rant (I hope).  I’d like to talk about free speech.

From an original field of ten, there are currently four Republican presidential contenders seeking the nomination of their party.  But only two are getting serious media coverage – the ones who have raised the most cash.  We are told that the reason that Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are getting all of the media coverage is that they’re tracking highest in the polls. But the primary reason that they have higher poll numbers than Rick Santorum or Ron Paul (yes, I know it’s not the only reason) is that they have the money to support all of the ridiculous negative advertising, expert campaign adviser salaries, and a “national organization”. And ironically, despite the fact that a person must have a huge pile of cash to run for president, Americans are currently obsessed with how the candidates earned their personal fortunes and if some creepy Darth Sidious billionaire is funding their campaigns.  Televised “debates” don’t cost the candidates any money, but unfortunately are a series of “gotcha” one-liners rather than a serious forum to compare and contrast positions on political issues.  The situation is not unique to 2012. Remember read my lips? Potatoe? Ma, ma, where’s my pa? You Betcha!

According to the New York Times, a Republican candidate needs 1,144 delegates to receive the nomination.  Currently, Newt Gingrich has 23, Mitt Romney has 21, Rick Santorum has 13, and Ron Paul has 2.  Nobody has more than 2% of the delegates needed! But we’re acting like the race is almost over because everyone doesn’t have the cash to keep going through the primary season.  So it’s come to this: Republican voters must choose between the candidate that cannot be trusted because he’s an undisciplined slob vs. the candidate that cannot be trusted because he never has a hair out of place? Despite the fact that all four candidates have a long way to go before getting 1,144 delegates, we’re already being told that we shouldn’t waste our vote on a candidate that isn’t in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.  Because they don’t have the stamina (which really means cash) to make it to the finish line. I live in Ohio, so Republicans in my state vote on March 6, Super Tuesday. But the race may already be decided by then, so what’s the point?

Ultimately, a Republican nominee will be chosen to run against President Obama, a Democrat. And then, media coverage will shift to which national party has raised the most cash.  Because they love a horse race. And because the party with the most cash will run the most goofy negative ads and win the election, right? Money, money, money.

So what does this have to do with business intelligence? Absolutely nothing. But it does have something to do with blogging, so bear with me.

Much mention was made in 2008 about Barack Obama’s pioneering use of social media in his campaign. But the great thing about social media is that anyone can blog. Anyone can tweet. Anyone can have a Facebook page. For free.  A person with zero cash and good typing skills can get their ideas in front of an audience.  Ideas, not stupid name calling and finger pointing.  Mommie bloggers. Sports fanatic bloggers. Foodie bloggers. And yes, nerdy bloggers like me. But why is social media unable to break the power of big media and big campaign donors?

I’m grateful that I live in a country with free speech, where anyone can share their thoughts on a blog. It is humbling and rewarding to be a simple guy from the midwestern United States whose words are read around the world.

But I wished I lived in a country where truly anyone could grow up to be president.

Thanks for reading. Now back to my SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 upgrade…

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

1 thought on “Free Speech”

  1. Great thoughts, Dallas.

    I think in another 20 or 30 years we may actually have the possibility to use social media to actually consider a candidate, but we need to have people comfortable with the internet to get to voting age (and while you only have to be 18 to legally vote, it seems you have to be 40 or 50 to actually vote).

    Of course, those comfortable with social media will already be skewered because of some youtube video they were in during college, or some blog they wrote after a bad breakup, or because they retweeted something salacious.

    I think before America can start using the internet to start watching candidates we need to have a semi-sensical way to deal with knowing everything about everyone. Is a candidate a sex offender? If so, maybe throw them out. Did they get drunk one time in college? Maybe let that slide.

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