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Political Guru: Partners Should Push Politicians to Middle Ground On Trade, Immigration

Solution providers should use their influence within their customer base and business community to push for policies that benefit the IT sector, according to the director of USC's political institute speaking at XChange Solution Provider 2016.

Solution providers should use their influence within their customer base and business community to push for immigration and trade policies that benefit the IT sector. That's the message from a renowned political expert speaking to IT professionals during a keynote address at XChange Solution Provider 2016 in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, urged partners to band together and provide political cover for Republicans backing comprehensive immigration reform and Democrats in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"Our system of politics is not majority rule," Schnur told more than 225 partners Wednesday during the speech. "It's a system of minority rule with majority acquiescence."

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Dan Schnur discusses Trump's ceiling on support at XChange Solution Provider 2016.

Schnur said that gerrymandered redistricting, the rise of partisan media and a campaign finance system dominated by wealthy individuals, corporations and labor unions have created an environment where politicians are too often rewarded for staking out extreme positions and punished for a willingness to negotiate or compromise.

"In politics, the victories come in between the 40-yard lines," Schnur said. "Even the most principled conservative and the most principled progressive must come out of their own ideological end zones."

[Related: Big Data's Big Role In Big Politics]

Specifically, Schnur criticized Republican presidential contender Donald Trump and Democratic presidential contender and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for what Schnur characterized as pushing to create larger barriers between the United States and the rest of the world.

Sanders' success has been fueled almost entirely by animus and fear among blue-collar workers, Schnur said, but his push to limit trade opportunities would be bad for the IT industry and the country at large, he said. Similarly, Schnur said, he considers Trump's proposal to deport tens of millions of undocumented immigrants from the United States to be impractical, hostile and mean-spirited.

"Removing 11.5 million people from this country … would require lining buses from San Diego, California, to Fairbanks, Alaska … and having the federal government manage the motorcades out of this country," Schnur said.

Although Schnur said he doesn’t believe either Sanders or Trump will win the presidency, he said the sentiments fueling their campaigns have forced primary competitors on both sides of the aisle to stake out more extreme positions.

"I don't think [former Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton is nearly as anti-trade as she's sounded on the campaign trail in the past couple of months, and I don't think [Florida Sen.] Marco Rubio or [Ohio Gov.] John Kasich is as anti-immigration as they’ve sounded.’

Schnur urged attendees to devote a couple of hours each week to a worthy candidate or political cause important to them, and to let their friends, colleagues and customers know why the person or issue is so important to them.

"There's an old saying in politics: 'There's no such thing as a raging moderate,' " Schnur said. "And I like to be the counterargument: Politics is too important to be left to the politicians."

Chad Cline, co-founder and partner at Fort Worth, Texas-based Tarrant Technology, said he plans to accept Schnur's challenge to engage in more conversations with friends and customers. Cline has found that the loudest voices in his part of the country tend to espouse Tea Party views, but he believes that many Fort Worth-area residents are privately more centrist.

"It's hard to know who will operate inside the 40-yard lines, because the pressure is to speak like you're in the end zone," Cline said.

Still, Cline is optimistic than Clinton or Kasich would move more to the center should either of them become America's next president.

Although Brian Goddard, founding owner of Charlotte, N.C.-based gTechserv, said he understood the point Schnur was trying to make, he believes Barack Obama's presidency has put small businesses and the country's core values in jeopardy.

And after spending eight years in what he sees as one ideological end zone, Goddard said, he would like to see a major shift back to more traditional values and principles.

"We've spent way too long in the middle," Goddard said. "It's time to start winning again."

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