Five Steps to Make America Great Again

Dear President-elect Trump,

Congratulations on your victory.

You pulled off what everybody thought was impossible.

Now, if that also turns out to describe your presidency, I’ll be truly impressed… and thankful.

But I don’t envy you.

You were elected because so many people feel like they’re under deep economic duress. They feel angry, ignored and powerless.

Your No. 1 challenge and priority is to bring these people back into the fold… make them feel they’re part of America’s future… that they will not be left behind in reaping the benefits of a strong thriving country.

I have the perfect solution for you. So let me introduce myself…

There’s More to Startups Than Silicon Valley

I come from the world of startups (but not Silicon Valley).

I feel like I need to make the distinction. Many folks conjoin the two. But startups are not Silicon Valley. And Silicon Valley is not startups.

I point this out because you weren’t exactly the candidate of choice among Silicon Valley players. In fact, Mr. President-elect, every time you opened your mouth, you pissed off a lot of people – in Silicon Valley, probably even more so.

But upon reflection during these past few days, it has become clear to me that if you were slightly more “politic” – that is, willing to abide by the traditional “rules of engagement” followed by previous presidential candidates – you would have won in a landslide.

Such was the power of your candidacy as a fearless agent of change.

The pundits say you ran a content-less campaign. What they fail to understand is that how you ran the campaign was the content… was the message…

That nothing is sacred.

That upholding tradition and pandering to convention plays into the hands of vested interests – those who already benefit from the existing power structure.

You weren’t willing to play that game. It was a brilliant gambit. And it paid off because it was totally believable. It is who you are.

Even if you tone things down once you ascend to the presidency, voters are convinced you won’t betray your cantankerous belief in your own worldview.

It’s why people voted for you… and against you.

Of course, the fact that you also ran on a contrarian trade policy and anti-immigration platform was also deeply concerning to Silicon Valley.

I personally wish your rhetoric was a little more conciliatory toward the Chinese and a little less sympathetic toward the Russians. But I understand that tough talk on China during a presidential campaign is practically required.

It was the one area where you actually hued to political convention.

But these considerations are minor compared to the issue that matters the most… and that Silicon Valley somehow missed. It speaks to the essence of who you are and what you stand for.

Silicon Valley has a great word for it: disruption.

They apply it to themselves with pride. (Which is why they haven’t ascribed it to you!)

Silicon Valley is a disruptor of outdated legacy companies and business models. Disruption is the centerpiece of its activist “we’re changing the world” mantra.

You are also a disruptor, just in a different realm. Your mantra is not quite as global. You “merely” aspire to change the U.S.

It won’t be easy.

Washington has historically asserted its power through its ability to regulate.

As a disruptor, you have put forward your plans to de-regulate time and again.

This is where you can make a real difference. A wave of de-regulation would benefit both startups and disenfranchised Americans.

First, the benefits for the startups.

  • Fintech companies would face less government interference.
  • Startups based on the sharing economy would no longer risk being shut down by new federal worker classification regulations.
  • Local city administrations would no longer look to Washington for support in their fight against the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world.
  • Healthcare startups face an uncertain future, but there would be plenty of opportunities depending on how (and how much of) Obamacare is restructured.

If you want to re-energize the economy, then liberating the startup sector from overregulation is your best bet.

Disenfranchised Economic Players

De-regulation would also tackle the other problem: the lack of capital availability for fast-growing startups needing money to scale growth.

Investment capital is abundant in Silicon Valley. Other places? Not so much.

You have an opportunity to solve this issue. It would go a long way in guaranteeing that all Americans reap the rewards of a revitalized startup economy. And the solution clicks seamlessly into your vision of a less regulated economy.

All you’d have to do is make it easier for Americans to give money to startups in return for equity – all Americans, not just the wealthy.

Here’s what you should do…

  • Appoint an SEC chairman that shares your view of a government giving free reign to the fundraising activities of private startup companies.
  • Charge the chairman with fixing recent rules from the SEC that go only partway in opening up startups to all investors.
  • Make sure the “Fix Crowdfunding Act” passes the Republican-controlled Senate. By the way, it has already been passed by the House, as we noted in this earlier post. (Among a host of improvements, it may raise Regulation Crowdfunding fundraising limits from $1 million to $5 million.)
  • Make more inclusive the definition of “accredited investor” so millions more Americans qualify.

I believe that unleashing homegrown American ingenuity, innovation and entrepreneurship is key to America’s economic revitalization. I believe you do too.

So it really makes sense for you to do everything in your power to allow millions more Americans to invest in startups.

Obama signed the JOBS Act into law back in 2012. A pathway for everybody to invest in startups was created.

But you, Mr. President-elect, have the opportunity to turn that pathway into a super-highway.

In my opinion, it would go a long way toward making America great again.

Invest early and well,

Andy Gordon
Founder, Early Investing