Divorce, Republican Style

I’ve been reading media reports to the effect that Silicon Valley’s Right-wingers are disenchanted with Donald Trump and the GOP.

While much of the Silicon Valley tech community is progressive, it includes several billionaire tycoons who lean far to the economic Right. Evidently, tech libertarian extremists (like Peter Thiel and his ilk ) who gave generously to Trump and those he endorsed on the theory that they would work to eliminate the business regulations they oppose now recognize that Trump is incapable of actually following through on any of his policy promises. They have also noticed that the GOP overall is consumed with culture war issues and uninterested in their oligarch agenda.

According to the reports I’ve read, they’re closing their wallets.

Those reports have made me cautiously optimistic that we may finally be seeing a  “divorce” between those we used to call “country club Republicans” and the (formerly fringe) theocratic Right.

I was always bemused by the marriage.

The country club Republicans were businessmen (and yes, almost all were men–wives were “auxiliary” members). The haters–the religious Right, the racists and anti-Semites and (after Roe) the single-issue “pro life” voters–were focused on issues those men cared little or nothing about, and with which they frequently disagreed.

The two factions had very little in common, ideologically or culturally, and for years, I anticipated a separation.

What I failed to recognize–and what the then “mainstream” Republicans failed to anticipate–was the inability of the GOP mainstream to keep the zealots on the fringe.

I still recall an astute analysis of the zealots’ takeover by a longtime (sane) party worker; in a discussion a few years after the “Reagan revolution,” as folks like Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed were increasingly calling the shots, she blamed mainstream Republican party folks who had been willing to use that fringe, happy to let the fanatics do the “grunt. work”–knocking on doors, addressing mailers, phone banking–while they ran things. After a time, they looked around and found that the “grunts” now owned the Party.

It took a lot longer than it should have, but business-oriented, middle of the road donors and voters are finally waking up to the fact that they have absolutely nothing in common with today’s GOP. They don’t hate gay people (in Silicon Valley, many are gay–even Peter Theil, whose husband is reportedly advising him to sit on his wallet) or partake of “anti-woke”fervor.

The Washington Post recently ran one of several reports on the disillusion of Silicon Valley Right-wingers.The subhead was “The right-wing titans of tech helped create Donald Trump. Now they’re alienated from politics and searching for allies.”  They are, according to the article, “so deflated by the tenor of GOP discourse that they appear to have decided to sit out the 2024 campaign entirely.”

The ambivalence among tech leaders goes well beyond a distaste for the former president, who was scorned by several high-profile tech-world supporters in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Although the tech elite often have criticized the left and “wokeness,” some now say the GOP has overemphasized divisive social issues such as transgender rights and abortion at the expense of the tech titans’ primary political goal: radical deregulation….

“There’s such a massive disconnect right now between caucus-goers and primary voters and the people who write the big super PAC checks,” said a political adviser to major Silicon Valley donors on the right. “We don’t care about [transgender] kids going to bathrooms. We care about dismantling the regulatory state.”

According to the Post report, these big-pocket donors have come to see Trump as very undisciplined, with character traits that sabotaged his ability to effect policy changes.  (I wanted to say “Ya think? You didn’t notice earlier that this guy is a walking, interminably talking, know-nothing mental case?” Evidently, the analytical skills of these “titans” are confined to technology…)

It isn’t just Trump. David Sacks has given huge sums to DeSantis; he’s now backing off.

Most Silicon Valley people are politically but not socially conservative,” said one of the people familiar with Sacks’s thinking. “All DeSantis needed to be was normal. Now he’s gone nuts on this woke thing.”

And that brings us full circle.

Garden variety business Republicans–those “country club Republicans” of yore– aren’t just uninterested in the racism and homophobia of today’s GOP base. They understand that the GOP’s culture war is affirmatively bad for business. They oppose all business regulations, including the ones intended to prevent them from engaging in diversity and inclusion efforts. Many depend heavily on immigrant labor. They have big stakes in international stability. They also don’t do well in government shutdowns.

I hope the divorce is final…..


  1. Alas, the days of GOP need for big donors is largely past — all those racist/homophobic/white nationalist nutjobs comprising today’s GOP “base” are funding Republicans (particularly Trump) with small donations … while helpful, those billionaires are no longer needed like they once were.

  2. You’ve made a great case for removing money from politics! Small donors like me won’t be able to support multimillion dollar campaigns. There’s just not enough of us! I hope in 2025, we get a super majority in the House and Senate and fix that mess once and for all. Then let’s get healthcare for all. A girl can dream right?

  3. It never made any sense to me why rich people would want to tear down a system of government under which they have flourished. I guess greed renders one blind. If they are seeing the ugliness of the bride they married in the darkness of their greedy stupor, I can only think it’s about damn time!

  4. That divorce needs to extend to the business-minded in Indiana. We have at least four millionaire/billionaires that are trying to buy their place in the Governor’s office with promises of running Indiana like a business, or continuing (in their words)the good work and economy of Indiana. These people are blinded by their own kind that keep telling them that things are just great in Indiana. They ignore the extremely high maternal and infant mortality rate, the serious lack of housing , childcare, healthcare, and low-paying jobs along with the damage to our future generations of underfunding public education.

    The GOP in the Congress and the Indiana State Legislature does not have a bright future, and I hope their collapse comes sooner than later. We cannot take another 4 years of the dysfunction in Congress or the super-majority of the State Legislature.

  5. The old GOP has created a fractions problem for itself.

    The question is, does that mean the country is adapting to the new global reality by switching back towards democracy? Does that adaption force the extinction of the old GOP because it’s no longer a sustainable political party because neither faction has the wherewithal (voters + $) to sustain itself in a democracy (even one so broken by Constitutional states rights)?

    I think so.

    Is that my mere hopeful wish (at Santa Clause time)?


  6. Where is the satisfaction in holding onto all of those millions, and sometimes billions? Many pages of large numbers of large amounts of money sitting somewhere or earning bigger amounts to add to those numbers. My accounts are not large or even big by any accounting; they are only numbers till my family needs help I can provide by lowering my numbers making use of them and not reading and feeling proud of having so many dollars and cents that belong to me. Numbers are meaningless except in our votes every election; never forget Bernie Sanders’ vast numbers of small amounts of which would have put him in the White House had Debbie Wasserman Schultz not withheld the numbers of registered voters he was legally entitled to.

    Those large numbers of donations supporting Trumpism are supporting cat fights, near fist fights and one kidney punch so far on the Congressional floor. They must be chest-pounding proud of what they have bought.

  7. Maybe if the money dries up all across the country Republicans will have gotten the message the divorce papers have been filed, but until I see a break in the dysfunction of the house Republicans, I’m going to believe that the message is just not getting through.

    It still amazes me that no Republican is willing to break ranks and nominate a “moderate” Republican that would pick up some Democratic votes. But I think the dysfunction was explained by a R house member that showed just how far the culture war issues have consumed the Republican base when he was explaining his no vote on what should have been a simple bipartisan farm aid renewal bill. “We need something to show the constituents at home!”, meaning I think, that there were no added provisions to at least withhold aid from LBGTQ+ farmers.

    The stupidity can’t end soon enough.

  8. Thom Hartmann frequently mentions the book “I paid Hitler” by Fritz Thyssen. Like many business people, in Europe and America, he liked Hitlers business first foremost approach and worked to help him become Chancellor. Of course Thyssen had to flee Germany or lose his life when the monster became clear. I hope these tycoons realize they have made a mistake that is every bit as dangerous as Thyssens’. With any luck we can avoid the fate of 1930’s-1940s Germany but we need to wake up a lot of people who vote first and we need big business to put its greed aside now rather than after it is too late.

  9. Why does Big Business need a Donald Trump when they have the Democratic Party? Biden and both parties gave the techies a fortune in subsidies for high-tech. The Dem Party is right of center, so there is no need to embrace the hazard that a DeSantis or Trump pose for the country.

    Socialism for the rich is Washington’s way. As long as the oligarchs get what they want from sane politicians, why do they need to wrap their arms around the lunatics?

    As for Indiana’s dysfunction, it’s Robin Hood in reverse — they steal from the poor and give to the rich. And, as long as the economic development folks can operate behind closed doors, there will be many gifts to the oligarchs.

  10. If those tech titans are socially aware, and caring, they sure have a silly way of showing it. And, yes, if they had not been able to see the disease in TFG from the get-go, their focus was much too narrow. Or, they saw it but thought they could harness him/it. The same mistake the Germans gov’t made, thinking they could bury Hitler under a pile of bureaucratic nonsense.
    The “tech titans” agenda is simply for “MORE,” spelled MONEY!
    Theresa, those wealthy folks you refer to could;d not give any less off a damn for the plight of th mothers you cite.

  11. Many of the “tech titans” are not “hot MAGA” but rather “cold libertarian”. Their money and candidates could be a whole other evil “democracy teardown”. Watch what you forgot to study…

  12. Todd – Expanding on your Robin Hood in reverse theme > Subsidies to the rich or adoption of policies that encourage pursuit of efforts that redound to the common good, i.e., policies in which ordinary taxpayers get something real for their money (like for instance a new bridge to facilitate commerce, an AI breakthrough designed to reduce costs of food marketing etc.)? By a comparison of such tradeoff for the common good someone tell me how the Trump-Ryan 7.9 TRILLION DOLLAR tax cut for the rich in 2017 without a means of recovery from its addition to the deficit, an enormous number which amounts to one-quarter of the deficit we have ever historically had, redounds to the public good when it amounts to nothing more than a giant payoff to the rich who in return (thanks to Citizens United) perpetuates such thieves in office. I’m waiting. . .

    Want to reduce the deficit big time? Repeal that enabling statute along with the “carried interest” giveaway to equity funds in the code which should have been repealed long ago. Our grandchildren and others yet unborn (who will be paying at increased interest for such giveaway – speaking of taxation without representation) will retrospectively thank you even as Trump and his greedy cohort denounce such repeal as socialist, anti-American etc., as in, how dare taxpayers complain of our addition of 7.9 trillion dollars (and interest) to what they and their unrepresented successors are and will be obligated to pay? GRRRR!

  13. We might have to wait a bit longer than we like to see what happens with the techie billionaires. After the EU figures out the best way to regulate them, we will have a roadmap to follow at the very least. I’m worried more about the use of AI by Republicans than I am about the tech millions. MAGATS do tend to believe what they see, as long as it fits their world view, which is that democrats are baby eating paedophiles.

  14. Todd, Mitch, Lester, Gerald all have really good points to the miscues of the Republican and Democrat agendas.
    We cant afford the same old tax cuts now. moving forward, we need a more moderate way of funding the government, increasing revenues and keeping a wholistic view of regulations providing environmental and business stability.
    This is how the LGBTQ agenda has changed in the Republican party

  15. On the way home today I was passed by six beautiful Porche sport cars. They were driving in a small parade as they turned into the parking lot of a swanky hotel. The sign in front of the hotel stated: “Conference – How to Pull the Economy Out of the Dump”.

  16. I tend to think the Randian tech bro billionaires aren’t going to abandon the GOP. They were interested in government as something useful in society while they built up their wealth, now that they have more money than God they don’t see any purpose behind any regulations at all – after all, regulations aren’t helpful once you’ve already won the game.

    I wouldn’t hold your breath on Peter Theil, Elon Musk, et al suddenly deciding they aren’t hard right Ayn Rand lunatics. When your wealth utterly insulates you from the fire, you’re not too worried about arsonists. Besides, in the aftermath of the burn – everything’s on sale and you can buy it all with your limitless resources.

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