The Politics of Innovation: What to Listen for This Election Cycle

Ever since Machiavelli, innovation has meant different things to different people. Some are labeled heretics for advocating change, others are cheered as champions.

Ever since Machiavelli, innovation has meant different things to different people. Most can't define it. Consequently, some oppose it and other support it. Some are labeled "heretics" for advocating change, others are cheered as champions.

Here are 10 things you should know about innovation.

During this political season, you will hear a lot or a little about the politics of innovation, or, in many cases, nothing about it at all, for fear that an idea will offend vested interests or a given political base. On the other hand, some running for office use hot buttons to excite the masses.

Here are some things to listen for, or read between the lines during the silence:

1. Tax policies to "advance innovation"

2. Education policies designed to improve access, assure defined competencies, and reduce costs

3. Ideas and platforms designed to reduce income inequality and middle class wage stagnation

4. How to spur innovation to improve the standard of living through improved productivity

5. Ways to increase the value of basic research and development, either at government labs, industry or academic research institutions, and get “impact”

6. Creating a 21st-century workforce

7. Building infrastructure without destroying a place to save it

8. Identifying the socioeconomic barriers to health and social equality and removing them

9. Trade policy and the emergence of the anti-free trade advocates

10. The value of innovation ecosystems and how to build them

Then there is, of course (drum roll please) affordability of health insurance.

The world is changing at a rapid clip and those that make the rules and regulations are always behind the curve. Few rule-makers have the vision to create an innovation platform that is clear and convincing. There is also a culture of corruption.

However, without that road map, we will continue to crash against the shoals of competing interests, “What’s in it for me?” versus the common good; us v them.