Margaret O’Mara is the Howard & Frances Keller Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington. She writes and teaches about the growth of the high-tech economy, the history of U.S. politics, and the connections between the two.
Margaret is a leading historian of Silicon Valley and the author of two widely read books about the modern American technology industry: The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America (Penguin Press, 2019) and Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search For The Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, 2005). She also is a historian of the American presidency and author of Pivotal Tuesdays: Four Elections that Shaped the Twentieth Century (Penn Press, 2015). She is a coauthor, with David Kennedy and Lizabeth Cohen, of the widely used United States history college textbook, The American Pageant (Cengage).
Margaret's writing on technology, politics, and society has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, WIRED, MIT Technology Review, The American Prospect, and other major national and international publications. She regularly provides historical perspective on current events to broadcast television and radio outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, PBS, BBC, CBC, and NPR. Margaret is an active public speaker, regularly lecturing before general and academic audiences about Silicon Valley's evolution and the impact of its people, companies, and politics on the United States and the world, and speaking about the past, present, and future of the American presidency.
Margaret is a past fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. She received her MA/PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA from Northwestern University. Prior to her academic career, she served in the Clinton Administration, working on economic and social policy in the White House and in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She lives outside Seattle with her husband Jeff, two teenage daughters, and world's best dog.
Serious and silly, unifying and polarizing, presidential elections have become events that Americans love and hate. Today's elections cost billions of dollars and consume the nation's attention for months, filling television airwaves and online media with endless advertising and political punditry, often heated, vitriolic, and petty. Yet presidential elections also provoke and inspire mass engagement of ordinary citizens in the political system. No matter how frustrated or disinterested voters might be about politics and government, every four years the attention of the nation—and the world—focuses on the candidates, the contest, and the issues. The partisan election process has been a way for a messy, jumbled, raucous nation to come together as a slightly-more-perfect union.