Tag Archives: Silicone Valley

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…..