David Cole is a twenty-eight-year-old Internet software developer that wants to make a difference. He has two years of experience working for the White House as deputy director of new media, but now he is looking forward to giving government policy an upgrade. He is now running for the Democratic nomination in his home district in New Jersey and will be up against Frank LoBiondo who has been the district’s representative since 1995. With Congress encountering more technology-based issues, a hacker would not be the worse choice.
His influence will be needed in the coming years. Online privacy laws, Bitcoin regulation, and Internet neutrality rules are all becoming political issues, and a hacker does have the background needed to understand. And he will be able to use that background to educate Congress and represent the younger generations who are involved.
Cole admits his career will take “an interesting pivot,” but at Rutgers his undergraduate major was political science and he was active in the student government. He was using computers since he was little, but said that in college he saw many opportunities to bring his problem solving skills to larger political issues. He volunteered for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign right after college to explore the political world. He quickly took the senior adviser for technology in the CIO’s office of the White House. Later he worked in the private sector for a software company and open source mapping.
Cole has not held political office before, unlike most who begin at local or state level government. Instead he will be aiming for a position in the U.S. House. He hopes to turn around the problems plaguing South Jersey families such as not enough jobs, student debt, and investing in education and infrastructure. Cole believes that the leadership in the House of Representatives have ruined many past chances at advancing the country. Running for Congress may be an interesting first step, but he is confident that his Internet problem solving skills will be a great asset in office.
Cole realizes that software developers are under represented in Congress among teachers, businessmen other than CEOs, and service workers. “Lots of people don’t have a voice in government because it’s really expensive to run a campaign.” It is true that his competition has more resources, but Cole still likes his odds.“I’m still enough of an idealist,” he says, “to reject the idea that big money can drown out big ideas.” As for the unemployment problem, the Internet hacker hopes a position in Congress will allow him to run programs for replacing old manufacturing sector jobs by drawing more clean energy and technology companies.But it all starts with education and giving people the right skills at a younger age. Technical skills and computer programming could be taught to the children. He says having a computer at a young age, and being knowledgeable about them early in life, gave him opportunities.“It’s not OK that the most of the people who are entering this industry are coming from upper middle class backgrounds.”
By Whitney Hudson