INNOVATE2016: The Next Generation Of Politicians Must Understand Innovation

What’s the one certainty about the 2016 election? According to Averell “Ace” Smith, one of California’s major Democratic party operatives, it’s that the Democrats will win the election. Ha!

But for all Smith’s partisan bias, he’s got a very interesting take on the upcoming election. It’s like the 1890’s, he says, because nothing seems to have changed. Politics, Smith told me, is still working off the Hillary Clinton/Jeb Bush model of candidates unwilling to take risks. These pols should take lessons from jugglers, he says. They should learn how to make entertaining mistakes.

So where should we look for a new, innovative breed of politician?

Smith – who counts Kamala Harris, Gavin Newsom and Ed Lee as clients – says that the future lies with Californian politicians. The father of Californian political idiosyncrasy and risk taking is, of course, our current Governor Jerry Brown. But Smith also includes Newsom, Lee and Harris as examples of politicians who are no longer stuck in the mindset of the 1890’s. Perhaps, he speculates, that’s because they are all very familiar with models of Silicon Valley innovation and entrepreneurship.

Many thanks to the San Francisco iHangar for hosting this interview with Hilton. And thanks again to CALinnovates for its help with producing the show.