It's November 1st. The 2016 U.S. election is now just a week away and yet with all the talk of Russia it feels more like the Cold War. The way you can tell it's 2016 is that this is the year Wikileaks ripped the curtain back and showed us the toxic beast behind the curtain is not in fact a Wizard but a bunch of elitist political hacks running the Democratic party who out of a twisted allegiance to the Clinton Family, not only walked away from a sure thing with Bernie Sanders but actively colluded to ensure he would fail to get the nomination.
The political and media view of Wikileaks is a far cry from 2008. Back then it was championed for exposing secrets of the war in Afghanistan. Now that its sights are on American politics in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular, the same people who viewed the organization as a free speech champion now see it as a toxic pariah meddling in the election. Wikileaks' function and purpose haven't changed, only the subject matter. If anything, Wikileaks is apolitical.
But if social media and online living has taught us anything it's that anyone can become a target. This is true for Hulk Hogan as it is for Hillary Clinton and all who emailed John Podesta. Which brings me to Google's Eric Schmidt. He once famously said "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." In the remaining week before the US election with so many more Podesta emails to be released, it will be interesting to see if that quote doesn't come back to haunt him.
Wikileaks has shown with every email who pulls the strings on the media, and just how many special interests take precedent over the desires of the American voter. So in this case it's no surprise to see Google's Eric Schmidt popping up in the latest Wikileaks dump. Google itself has its own lobbying Political Action Committee Google NetPAC.
According to Ballotpedia: "In the third quarter of 2015, GNP spent $3.65 million in lobbying regulation of online advertising, privacy and competition issues in online advertising, and online advertising and sex trafficking. In the second quarter of 2015, the PAC spent $4.62 million on lobbying and in the first quarter spent $5.47 million in lobbying."
So it should perhaps come as no surprise in the latest Wikileaks dump that an email from 2014 to Cheryl Mills who was Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 2009 to 2013, Schmidt offers up some "2016 thoughts." Presumably these were offered up the same way Mills offered help to The Clinton Foundation-- out of the goodness of their hearts, and not meant in any way to curry favor. Mills then went on to forward Schmidts thoughts to John Podesta, Hillary's campaign manager Robby Mook, and David Plouffe who in addition to having been a Senior White House Staffer was also considered President Obama's campaign guru.
Schmidt's message begins: Here are some comments and observations based on what we saw in the 2012 campaign. If we get started soon, we will be in a very strong position to execute well for 2016.
He then lists in a very detailed manner his thoughts on everything from ensuring the campaign headquarters are staffed with "enthusiastic, smart and low paid permanent employees," to cloud storage, organization, logistics, and getting lots of data about the voter.
Under the section Voter:
Key is the development of a single record for a voter that aggregates all that is known about them. In 2016 smart phones will be used to identify, meet, and update profiles on the voter. A dynamic volunteer can easily speak with a voter and, with their email or other digital handle, get the voter videos and other answers to areas they care about ("the benefits of ACA to you" etc.) The scenario includes a volunteer on a walk list, encountering a potential voter, updating the records real time and deepening contact with the voter and the information we have to offer.
In addition there is discussion on digital paid and earned media and building "Build tools that measure the rate and spread of stories and rumors, and model how it works and who has the biggest impact. Tools can tell us about the origin of stories and the impact of any venue, person or theme. Connect polling into this in some way." He continues into Google's bread and butter, analytics.
Analytics and data science and modeling, polling and resource optimization tools
For each voter, a score is computed ranking probability of the right vote. Analytics can model demographics, social factors and many other attributes of the needed voters. Modeling will tell us what who we need to turn out and why, and studies of effectiveness will let us know what approaches work well. Machine intelligence across the data should identify the most important factors for turnout, and preference.
It should be possible to link the voter records in Van with upcoming databases from companies like Comcast and others for media measurement purposes.
The analytics tools can be built in house or partnered with a set of vendors.
And then in what can only be surmised as irony, Schmidt also lists Rules including no special interests.
Its important that all the player in the campaign work at cost and there be no special interests in the financing structure. This means that all vendors work at cost and there is a separate auditing function to ensure no one is profiting unfairly from the campaign. All investments and conflicts of interest would have to be publicly disclosed. The rules of the audit should include caps on individual salaries and no investor profits from the campaign function. (For example, this rule would apply to me.
More than 250 people have either gone to the White House from Google, or gone from Google to the White House, since President Obama took office. In light of this, it's a little late for Special interests, no?
As discussion stems around Wikileaks' motives, it is important to take a step back and view this email with the same scrutiny. Now more than ever it should be obvious that Silicon Valley, like the NRA and The National Education Association, is one more special interest group in a slew of special interest groups who use their power to influence the election. The only difference is Google doing so on a global basis, and now, thanks to Wikileaks, we can read all about it.