“To disrupt or be disrupted? That is the question,” quipped Matt Lira, a senior adviser to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Lira this week kicked off the annual Lincoln Initiative Reboot summit, a San Francisco gathering of conservative and libertarian activists working at the intersection of technology and civics to innovate campaigns, advocacy and government.
A smaller gathering than in prior years, this third annual Reboot was an invite-only event that gathered civic tech founders, engineers and designers, corporate tech, foundation executives, angel investors and serial entrepreneurs.
Lundry, who also helped former presidential candidate Jeb Bush with his digital strategy, spoke alongside Ted Cruz’s digital guru Chris Wilson. Bush and Cruz were aggressively active in big data and digital. However, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said that he has no plans to invest much in data moving forward. Wilson and Lundy discussed how this data gap would fare against Hillary Clinton’s data machine.
Wilson argued that down-ballot races would be hurt most by Trump’s lack of a data operation and that the Republican National Committee would need to compensate for it. Lundy argued that split ticket voting was at a low in 2012, but could be on the rise this year.
The Cato Institute sponsored a number of breakout sessions on policy debates, including whether government should institute a universal basic income to fight poverty. Cato poverty scholar Michael Tanner said he would be closely following the results of a Silicon Valley-backed pilot program created by tech incubator Y Combinator to test universal basic income in the high-poverty area of Oakland, Calif.
Many Reboot presentations centered on how to digitize civic processes.
“Voting is the only aspect of our lives relegated to an offline experience,” said Andrienne Lever of Change Politics, an online platform from Change.org that digitally walks users through the voting process online.
Change Politics was one of ten organizations pitching before a panel of judges for a $25,000 prize that went to the OpenGov Foundation, a non-profit organization developing free and open source software, and places civic data like laws and legislation online. It was co-founded by activist Seamus Kraft and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
“Congress has a 16 percent approval rating. That’s a problem,” Kraft said in his pitch. After winning, Kraft said OpenGov would put the money “to good use bridging [the] gap between Congress we have and the one we all need.”
Angel investor Auren Hoffman spoke on how to use big data to transform politics, but he also encouraged listeners to carefully craft their professional journey in the civic arena.
“As a society, we should encourage our best and brightest to take on these really hard problems,” Hoffman said. “If you get a law degree, you should do it because you love the law. Most people do it for optionality. Don’t be one of those people that overvalues optionality.”
Hoffman also offered general career advice; he previously led the digital startup LiveRamp to a $310 million acquisition last year.
“Who you know matters, but it’s more important than ever to be great at something,” Hoffman said. “‘What you know’ has been on the rise on 2010 over ‘who you know.’”
Cross-posted from Opportunity Lives
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others.