I was very happy to see President Obama win a second term last night. For starters it was gratifying that despite all sorts of last minute challenges this was not a close vote with hanging chads and damage to the integrity of the democratic process. It was also a compelling repudiation of candidates with backward positions on issues such as abortion and women’s rights more generally.
But there are important issues on which I have have deeply disagreed with the approach taken by the Obama administration. Most important among those are the continued rolling back of civil liberties in the name of the war on terror. With a stronger position for Obama all around (including the Senate) I am hoping that maybe Obama can deliver on some of his promises of change from the 2008 election. Cory Doctorow summed up my feeling perfectly with this tweet.
I am also concerned that President Obama’s approach to the jobs crisis in the US is not yet sufficiently creative and have been writing about that as well. I hope that in a second term we can see more interesting programs here as well, especially ones that tie in better with protecting the environment (more on that in upcoming posts).
One of the reasons why I am hopeful for the second term is that maybe the Republican party can return to a saner approach to politics and rid itself of its extreme elements. Chris Sacca succinctly made this point with his terrific election night tweet: “Most Republicans I know are high-integrity, thoughtful, patriotic, moderate Americans. I hope they get to take their party back.” And maybe, just maybe we can move more politicians past the traditional Democratic and Republican agendas (as Sergey Brin is hoping for) and towards a Peer Progressive agenda instead.
Europe had three elections on the weekend: presidential in France, parliamentary in Greece and regional in Germany. The results are strongly anti-incumbent across he board. In France, Sarkozy is out and Hollande is in. In Greece, the PASOK party went from 160 to 41 seats and no longer has a majority together with New Democracy the other incumbent. And in Germany in the regional elections in Schleswig Holstein, Angela Merkel’s CDU had the worst results since 1950.
The results are also strongly anti-austerity because that was the policy pursued by the incumbents. The Euro is now at a 3 month low, European stocks are down with the Greek market down 6% and Nasdaq Futures are down also. This comes on the heels of a 2.25% decline in Nasdaq this past Friday based on weak US jobs data. The risk that Europe will come apart with nations exiting the Euro and significant political and social upheaval to follow is now bigger than ever.
I had written last August that startups should raise money ASAP and I was wrong then. Europe managed to kick the can down the curb, the markets rallied and venture funding remained reasonably strong. I may well be wrong again now because we are dealing with probabilities but it should be pretty clear that the probability of Europe coming apart has gone up meaningfully with these elections.
What does that mean if you are a startup? Again, I believe if you know you have to raise money soon, you should do it even sooner than you thought you would. And if you have an existing strong syndicate you need to control your burn so that syndicate can finance you should new financing dry up. The music can stop at any moment and when it does the change is dramatic.
Last year I mentioned Americans Elect twice as part of other posts. Since I am still typing mostly with my left hand, I am simply pointing everyone to Fred’s post about Americans Elect today. Americans Elect has the potential to be super important but only if more people know about it. I am particularly excited about the potential to have a campaign finance reform only candidate. In fact, Larry Lessig himself has been proposed as a candidate.