Tip O’Neill, the venerable Speaker of the House of Representatives for much of the 80s, used to remind legislators that decision making in Congress is really about those issues most important to their constituents back home. That is to say, once you leave the Congressional bubble and get “outside the beltway,” the issues that matter most to everyday Americans might vary greatly district to district or state to state, and may not be the sexy, headline-grabbing topics we are accustomed to seeing in the media. In short, politics are really about those bread and butter issues that help to put dinner on the table, create jobs, and grow our neighborhoods.
Speaker O’Neill’s guiding ethos was in full effect this week, as the Application Developers Alliance took its policy chops on the road to sit down with Congressman Ted Lieu at ROC, a shared workspace in Santa Monica, California. The event, titled “Outside the Beltway: A Conversation with Representative Ted Lieu,” was created with one goal in mind: opening up a dialogue between app stakeholders in Silicon Beach and Washington. It is safe to say this week’s event accomplished that goal.
Congressman Lieu, who represents much of Silicon Beach, had the chance to tour the ROC facilities, where entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes, sizes, and maturation stages are working to become that “next big thing.” The Congressman also took part in a Q&A with the Alliance’s President Jon Potter. The conversation covered an array of topics that developers are following closely, including software encryption and so-called “backdoors,” the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, data use, cybersecurity, immigration reform, and the patent reform bill pending before the House of Representatives.
Congressman Lieu is a recovering computer scientist (his words, not mine), so he is well versed in many of the things Silicon Beach developers are monitoring. Yet even with his technical expertise it was evident how appreciative he was to learn what Washington should or should not be doing to help encourage the next wave of new products. As issues like privacy, data security, immigration, and others take center stage in Congress, look for Congressman Lieu to engage his developer constituency even more. Developers are quickly becoming the lifeblood of today’s global economy, and Congressman Lieu is fortunate to represent so many bright minds.
For our part, the Alliance is thrilled with this week’s conversation. Understanding how precious time can be for policymakers and small businesses, we very much appreciate Congressman Lieu and the dozens of app stakeholders who stepped away from their desks to chat policy for a couple hours. Be on the lookout for more Outside the Beltway events, because all politics are indeed local.
To learn more about Congressman Ted Lieu, read my interview with him here.
Policy and Government Relations Manager