THE BLOG
07/01/2011 05:01 pm ET | Updated Aug 30, 2011

My 5 Reasons for Pushing an Innovation Agenda

Every day I am asked why I am so passionate that innovation must be our national strategy.

Through my writings, media interviews and my recent book, "The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream," I have been relentless in pushing a pro-innovation agenda while urging Americans to join our Innovation Movement and sign the "Declaration of Innovation," which is an online pledge, open to all Americans, of support for policies that ensure innovation remains the strategic advantage of the United States of America.

Still, reporters, audiences and colleagues ask me why I care so much.

My passion is fueled by five basic beliefs:
1. It is the right strategy. As I explain in "The Comeback," America is in decline unless we shift course. Our spending is unsustainable, our entitlements are out of control, and our children will inherit a nation worse off than we did. But neither cutting spending nor raising taxes is a total solution. We need growth. As U.S. economic history has shown time and again, growth comes from innovation. Innovation is our past, and it must be our future.

2. It is who we are. Americans lead the world in innovation. Our unique blend of free-market capitalism, democratic governance and our immigrant heritage that compels us to "do it better" form the foundation of America's innovative infrastructure. What's more, we question the status quo. Our First Amendment encourages new ideas. Our diversity is our strength and perfect harmony is less important than honesty and creating a better way. We push the envelope. We reward business failure as a valuable experience, not as a source of shame. We have the best movies, medicine and Internet companies, because we are creative, questioning and always striving to solve problems or make something better.

3. We owe it to our troops. Thousands of young Americans are risking life and limb in Afghanistan and Iraq, while most of us are untouched by the war and sacrificing nothing. Don't we owe it to our troops to ensure that the America they return to is the best possible place for them to find meaningful work and raise a family? That's what they're fighting for; and it's what we should be fighting for at home as well. Shouldn't we stand up and care about our future? If they can pay the ultimate sacrifice, why can't we do our part to preserve our nation's future?

4. We must do right by our children. Every generation of Americans made sacrifices so their children could live the American Dream and enjoy a better life. Sadly, our generation is stealing from our children and living in the present rather than sacrificing for the future. Our spending is for today. We let our infrastructure crumble and cut our children's schooling so we can receive our entitlement pensions, Medicare and tax breaks. We owe our children more.

5. I owe it to my son. This is personal. My son was born when I was 52, and I know that I am unlikely to be around for much of his life. I want him to know I did my best to fight for his generation's future. If I can leave him with an America that is at least as good as when I found it, then I will have succeeded.

I am grateful that our association's leaders agree that nothing is more important to our industry's future than the health of the U.S. economy. This liberating view has allowed me to pursue the Innovation agenda on their behalf. But we need more help.

Thankfully, Americans are responding. They are embracing this worthy cause by the thousands. CEA's Innovation Movement transcends party lines and appeals to a shared sense of purpose: that we can and must focus on more than ourselves.

But our cause of innovation - and indeed our nation itself - will wither without popular support. If you care about our future and the world we give our children, I ask you to sign the Declaration of Innovation and pass this message along to everyone you know.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U.S. trade association representing some 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestseller The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.