An Open Letter to 2020 Candidates:
Americans will make consequential decisions for the future of the nation when they cast their votes in November. The coronavirus pandemic, and its impact on the health of our people, our economy, and our way of life makes the choice of candidates more impactful than any election in recent memory. Our democracy is stronger than any challenge facing our nation, and, as always, America will rise to the occasion.
As voters weigh their decisions, the pandemic has raised the profile of public policy issues that impact our ability to adapt to, and eventually recover from, the coronavirus. To help Americans cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the technology sector reacted quickly to equip parents, students, and educators; businesses and consumers; employers and employees; and government and community partners with the tools, solutions, and resources they need to adapt to new ways of working, shopping, communicating, learning, and living.
Technology enables safer and more socially-distant commerce where in-person shopping for essentials might be a risk to personal health. Technology has made it possible for millions of Americans to work remotely when it is not possible or advisable to be in an office. Our industry is transforming supply chains and developing new products to address life-threatening shortages of personal protective equipment. We provide supercomputing power and analytics capabilities to scientists and researchers to understand the virus and develop therapeutics and vaccines at an unprecedented scale and speed.
But not all Americans have been able to avail themselves of the benefits brought about by technology in this critical time. The COVID-19 pandemic brought tragedy through illness and death; it also brought into focus the continued presence of systemic racism and inequality in our nation. For example, access to high-speed internet remains out of reach for many of America’s students and their families and threatens to leave underserved communities behind financially and educationally.
The world has quickly evolved in ways that may forever change the workforce landscape, but that need not mean we leave participants in the workforce behind. Not only do we support opportunity through investment in communities and schools across the nation, alternatives to four-year college degrees, and reskilling for workers at all stages of their careers to make opportunity accessible to everyone, but we recognize that diversity in our workforce supports the development of inclusive and innovative products and services. The tech industry plays a vital role in closing this gap, and we stand ready to work with policymakers to ensure that the benefits of a digitized economy are realized by many, not just the few.
To meet the challenges of today, we urge policymakers to adopt an agenda that enables (1) education and opportunities for all in America to both foster individual success and ensure the realization of the benefits of a diverse workforce; (2) the continued prosperity of American businesses by fostering an open global market for goods and services; (3) the continued growth of America’s technological and innovative edge; and (4) continued trust in the technology solutions that will drive our recovery and ensure the resiliency of the infrastructure that underpins it.
In deciding how to mark their ballots this election season, Americans want to know that their elected leaders support policies that will protect, promote, and empower them. We respectfully propose the following policy recommendations to further these goals of enabling the economic recovery and future prosperity, maintaining America’s global leadership, and fostering greater opportunity across all communities.
Jason D. Oxman, President & CE0, ITI