Editor's Note: This Sunday at 8pm ET/PT, there will be a GPS special "How to Innovate." That same day, the Global Public Square and the New America Foundation will launch an Innovation Showcase. So stay with GPS online and on TV for much more on the subject!
"The first step to winning the future is encouraging American innovation." That was Barack Obama in his State of the Union address last January, when he hit the theme repeatedly, using the word innovation or innovate 11 times.
And on this issue, at least, Republicans seem in sync with Obama. Listen to Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Mitch Daniels and the word innovation pops up again and again. Everyone wants innovation and agrees that it is the key to America's future.
Innovation is as American as apple pie. It seems to accord with so many elements of our national character — ingenuity, freedom, flexibility, the willingness to question conventional wisdom and defy authority. But politicians are pinning their hopes on innovation for more urgent reasons.
America's future growth will have to come from new industries that create new products and processes. Older industries are under tremendous pressure. Technological change is making factories and offices far more efficient. The rise of low-wage manufacturing in China and low-wage services in India is moving jobs overseas. The only durable strength we have — the only one that can withstand these gale winds — is innovation.