John Chambers was one of Sen. John McCain’s (R.-AZ) most prominent Silicon Valley backers during the 2008 presidential campaign. But the chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems is fast warming to the idea of government playing an active role in stimulating the economy, a position diametrically opposed to the one held by McCain.
While McCain and fellow Republicans in Washington are busy using words like “theft” and “pork” to try and derail the Obama administration’s plan to get the economy off its knees, Chambers wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal Op-Ed that the current crisis is “the biggest opportunity of our lifetime” to “invest in the next wave of innovation centered around a combination of networked technologies, video and social-networking communities that [will] help people to collaborate more.”
Because modern decision-making functions and operations happen across the globe, 24 hours a day, Chambers argues, businesses and communities need tools and technologies that “can change the way we think, the speed by which we invent, the ways in which we connect and share information, and the extent to which we can sustain our environment.”
Has Chambers, a long-time prominent Republican backer, been studying a pilfered Democratic playbook?
Chambers acknowledges that “Cisco will benefit if some of our equipment is used” to re-invent how the US manages healthcare, invests in smart grid technologies and an energy efficient infrastructure, and transforms education by introducing more collaborative, virtual learning environments, as he suggests.
The striking thing about this vision is Chambers’ surprising public embrace of large-scale government intervention in the economy. “Obama’s plans to deliver an ambitious and comprehensive economic recovery package are critical to our country and, ultimately the entire global community,” Chambers wrote.
“Government’s leadership has never been more important.”