Things are going to get worse before they get better, but then we will have transparency.
In 2056 — America will, for the first time, have the option of voting for a perfectly clean candidate. They will be unmarred by business scandal, sex scandal, embarrassing youtube content or teenage angsty poems. They will be, for all intents and purposes — the perfect Presidential candidate at the age of 37.
This isn’t an abstract number. I believe that it is only now, in 2019, that parents are fully grasping the damage an online presence can have on their young child, and only post-2019 that a child will grow up and be raised in an America where they can understand the dangers of the modern digital age on a political candidate, and a personal legacy.
Children born in parts of 2020 will first be eligible to run for the Presidency in 2056 based on the Constitutionally mandated minimum age of 35. I do not believe they will win in that election cycle. They will be young, their candidacies will be novel, and their records will be suspiciously clean. Transparent and truly clean candidates will be the outlier, until politicians from the older generation, who will carry immense digital baggage, are in the minority. 2056 will be the start of an improved political candidate.
By 2068, there will be a crop of viable candidates who have been so careful with their digital and personal footprint — that we will once again be able to return to a discussion of the issues instead of the personality wars currently being waged at all levels of our government. These clean candidates will be found in all political parties, and they will set an incredible precedent: in order to be taken seriously in politics, you must hold yourself to a higher standard.
There will also be the counter candidates, the ones who run as the not so perfect populist leaders and instead rally against this new generation of new clean candidates. These candidates will be proud of the dirt they have accumulated and will use it as a way to demonstrate that only they can navigate this difficult and complicated world. These gritty candidates will call those individuals who have spent their entire lives walking a straight line fakes, elitists, and snobs. They will do everything they can to make the remarkably clean seem impossibly dirty. It will be up to us as a voting public to decide what kind of leaders we want to trust.
Between today and the start of the 2056 election cycle, things are not going to get better. At this very moment, we are only entering a 40 year span of Presidential candidates who have had the internet, but did not understand the impact it would have on their lives.
We will see a great many things made public: saved snapchats, instagram stories, doxxed accounts, secret emails, more celebrity reality television, secret camera recordings, out of context text messages, childhood photos and pictures saved by mom that get hacked from cloud storage accounts, and of course the things that seem appropriate when they happen, but age horribly.
The only way these will be overcome is through the growth of a generation that is truly privacy conscious, ambitious, and understands the long term damage of a joke text or racy photo. I do not predict that privacy will improve, but I do predict that those born today will be less likely to engage in the activities that are commonplace now. They will grow up in a world where they see the consequences of a digital culture, and they will be better than us for having learned from our mistakes.
Welcome to the world Mr or Madam President — and good luck.