Monday, October 29, 2007

My "Can You Hear Me Now" presidential campaign

My "Can You Hear Me Now" presidential campaign

And if there's anyone in space.
What they'll learn about the human race.
Will be listening to us
Talking on our car phone

-Roger McGuinn

In his book, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman said he could run for President on one issue: Making American wireless technology as good as it is in the rest of the world.

Friedman said that if elected he would promise that within four years Americans would have cell phone coverage as good as Ghana.

In eight years we would equal Japan, provided that we made Japan stop improving their technology while we catch up.

He called it the "Can You Hear Me Now" campaign.

I've been waiting for Friedman to make his presidential move. Since he is holding back, I am borrowing his idea.

If you want better cell phone coverage, vote for me.

My campaign will be a refreshing break from the other announced candidates. I am not going to wave the flag and brag about America being first. The United States is getting its tail kicked in the battle for better communications tools.
In the technology race, the United States looks like a football game where the the world draws players from the New England Patriots and the United States get their squad from a local high school.

Instead of discussing whether Barack Obama should wear a flag on his lapel, we should make Obama and the other candidates wear a miniature cell phone. That would remind people that we have some catching up to do.

Go and visit Japan. You won't have your cell phone conversations cut off in mid sentence and you can find wireless internet wherever you go. The connections are a lot faster and reliable than anyone in the United States could imagine.

People in Japan wouldn't understand the "can you hear me now" television commercials. They can hear each other everywhere.

Americans aren't focused on my issue. Few travel the world and know how far behind weare.

The United States used to understand the need for technological advancement. Programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority and the national highway system showed vision.

We need that kind of leadership again. We don't appreciate the edge that technology can give business people.

I've had a cell phone for over 20 years. I paid thousands of dollars for my first one. I carried it in a bag larger than a suitcase. It worked in three Kentucky cities and no where else.

It wasn't a status or a novelty item. It was a valuable communications tool that gave me an edge on my competitors.

The kind of edge that other countries now have on the United States.

I used my original cell phone in my car or when I could not find a phone booth. I did not use it in church, in the middle of public meetings or while standing in the checkout line at grocery stores.

There is a segment of America that wants cell phones to go away. They probably wind up in the same grocery store lines I wind up in.

I recently stood in a line with 10 people. All of them were talking on cell phones and the clerk was talking on her cell phone, holding it to her ear as she scanned items with her other hand.

She didn't look up or engage anyone in conversation. Outside of myself, no one was going to turn off their phones and talk to her anyway.

My presidential campaign may be overlooked by people tired of idle chatter and stupid ring tones.

Ring tones might be my ticket to victory.

When people find that I can get them the neatest and coolest ring tones, it will motivate a new block of voters.

There are people who spend more time thinking about ring tones than war, famine and the economy. I understand completely. I would vote for any presidential candidate who would promise that I never have to hear the "Louie Louie" ring tone again.

Comedian Stephen Cobert is talking about running a campaign for president and only campaigning in his native state of South Carolina. I might copy his idea and run in Kentucky.

The Kentucky primary is late May, long after the presidential nominees will be decided. The vote will be completely irrelevant.

Just as irrelevant as the United States will be if we keep running technologically behind the rest of the world.

Don McNay is the Chairman of the Board for McNay Settlement Group in Richmond Kentucky and the author of Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery. You can write to him at don@donmcnay.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or read other things he has written at

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