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J.B. Pritzker on the Holocaust and today’s politics

September 25th, 2016

Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker and Mike Gamson, senior vice president of LinkedIn in Chicago, sat down for a Q&A last week during a networking event to attract new supporters to the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

The two men share a rich family history of Jewish immigration and a passion for technology. Pritzker’s venture capital firm invests in start-ups and Gamson built LinkedIn in Chicago to a 400-strong work force and he’s now investing in new entrepreneurs, too.

So their exchange about how LinkedIn has transformed business was fascinating–and amusing.

Asked how many in the room were on LinkedIn, only one said no–John Rowe, the former CEO of Exelon who chairs the Holocaust museum.

Most riveting was Pritzker describing the first time he toured the Holocaust museum and was reminded that the Nazis were elected in a democracy.

He wondered “Could a bigoted, anti-Semitic leader get elected in the United States? In Germany, there were economic difficulties. People were feeling angry. They were focused on finding someone else to blame” for their financial pain. “Minorities were identified as wrong-doers. I realized it could happen and I worry about that. It really could happen in the most powerful democracy in the world.”

Pritzker saw the exhibit long before the current election cycle. But it’s “relevant” to what’s happening today.

He didn’t mention his support for Hillary Clinton or his contempt for Donald Trump.

He didn’t need to.

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