Elon Musk: It’s misguided to boycott Tesla, Twitter over politics


Throughout the last couple of weeks, Elon Musk has emerged as one of the most polarizing people in the United States. He’s become heavily invested in freedom of speech, and recently, he denounced the Democratic Party, to which he previously felt aligned the most with his beliefs. And while it’s not uncommon for wealthy CEO’s to opine about their personal beliefs, they prefer to avoid politics. However, for Musk, this came after striking a $44 billion acquisition of the largest think tank in the entire world–Twitter.

Under normal circumstances, this would just be another story of wealth and opportunity. But what makes this abnormal is that in recent years, Twitter and former CEO Jack Dorsey have come under fire for suppressing freedom of speech in a way that has been favorable to one political ideology. This increased during the Trump Administration, when Twitter was suspending accounts from right-leaning personalities and public figures, which Twitter cited as being in violation of its user agreements; a legal bypass of the first amendment.

To combat the controversial ethos of Twitter, Musk has decided to lift the veil on Twitter’s algorithms and make them open source. Additionally, Musk has committed to reactivating accounts that were suspended under Dorsey and current CEO Parag Agrawal’s leadership. Again, under normal circumstances, transparency would be welcomed, however, some Twitter employees feel threatened by Musk personally, so they don’t see this as transparency, but a bulldozing tactic to control speech by the elitist class.

How can employees use their political beliefs against Elon Musk while at the same time, condemn him for his political beliefs? Regardless of where your beliefs lie on the spectrum, if you don’t allow room for discussion, then the discourse will further erode our trust for one another and divide this country.

It’s become a default reaction that when someone doesn’t like someone’s opinion or position on a certain issue, people will say those opinions or positions are a “threat to democracy.” Perhaps, disagreements are a threat to your ego, but they’re not a threat to democracy.

The real threats to democracy are the lawmakers who are worshipped and treated like celebrities, and the lobbyists who control the agendas and bills. When constituents or supporters give politicians the Adamas complex, that’s basically giving them the green light to abuse their power knowing they’ll be supported by the cult behind them. That power is what’s threatening democracy–not a person’s opinion–however imbecilic it may be.

Among the most common zingers people have used lately attempting to discredit Musk have been some variation of “he didn’t even found Tesla. He bought it.” And “He thinks he’s entitled to everything he wants because he can write blank checks.” While it’s true that Musk had access to seed money while most people were being risk averse during the dot com boom, Musk built his wealth through a series of moves that put him in a position to sell PayPal to EBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. Musk’s entree into the automotive industry was through a $6.5 million investment into Tesla Motors in 2004, which was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhand and Marc Tarpenning. This investment made him the largest shareholder, and in 2008, he became Tesla’s CEO.

What critics fail to mention during their Internet takedown attempts of Musk is that his decision to enter politics was never on his radar. If you comb through his Twitter prior to 2020, there are very few mentions of government or politics. This is likely because most CEO’s know that outward political opinions are rarely good for business. But what’s even worse for business and political relations, is when the sitting President of the United States fails to invite the CEO of the first American luxury electric vehicle company to a summit on electric vehicles. Remember that unions traditionally back liberal politicians and Tesla is non-union, so usually when there’s a snub at this level, it’s almost always political in nature. Even CNN noted that the United Auto Union being in attendance at the event was likely the reason. However, in Elon Musk’s case, he was a Democrat at the time, and while he never said if he voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, the dismissal makes it pretty obvious why Musk started taking politics personally.

You would, too.

It’s also important to note that the car manufacturers at this summit were the ones who were bailed out by the federal government during the Great Recession of 2007, when Elon Musk was a lesser known mogul who was still tinkering with the viability of a modern and aesthetically pleasing automotive offering in the electric vehicle space. The $81 billion bailout initiated by the Bush Administration ended up costing American taxpayers $10.2 billion. Just so we’re clear, while small businesses in America were being destroyed, the federal government was prioritizing the very automakers people are saying they’re going to support in protest of Elon Musk’s political identity.

Selective memory is one hell of a drug.

We live in a society where it’s become normal to treat anyone with any level of influence as if he or she were a communal punching bag. We also live in a society where the second a wealthy person buys anything, the “equity” sector feels like it’s their job to scold that person and “school” them on global issues and inequalities and tell them how to spend their money. Whether you’re the richest person in the world or someone who’s barely surviving, nobody has the right to tell you how you should be spending your money. Moreover, from healthcare and education reform to actual infrastructure and beyond, the government has continued to mismanage our tax dollars, and every single taxpayer in this country should feel insulted.

The real issues aren’t Elon Musk or his businesses or his money. It’s that through politicians such as AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, the government has normalized blaming the wealthy as a default reaction whenever something appears “unjust.” The realities are very different, however. The wealthy pay record taxes while taking advantage of tax loopholes that politicians designed for themselves and their campaign investors (donors). Then politicians campaign on job creation, but what they mean is that they’ll do everything to create additional tax loopholes to entice corporations to relocate so they can create jobs. And when wages aren’t meeting the financial needs of Americans due to government-created economic conditions such as inflationary periods, politicians–once again–default to blaming corporations for not increasing wages to offset governmental failures.

We know the volley between the government and major corporations will never change because the stakes are too high. Unfortunately, it comes down to the public holding the government accountable for optimizing how they spend our money, while pushing them to work on tax reform that actually benefits small businesses and regular people.

If politicians really wanted to have a productive discussion about tax reform and spending optimization, they should invite everyone to the table–including the people who actually hire the workers that make America run. While Elon Musk has avoided politics in the past, he has every right to start throwing political Molotov cocktails now because politicians are getting too comfortable roping him into the “pay your fair share” comments to avoid responsibility for what they’ve done.

I sense that Musk’s sudden foray into politics isn’t going to be a one-off event. And I have a feeling that Musk’s move is emboldening more CEO’s and billionaires to start getting into politics and fighting back against the political climate that unfairly blames them for politicians’ failures. If this happens, politicians have nobody to blame but themselves.

In typical fashion, people are now reverting to personal attacks and are asserting that Elon Musk is some talentless, entitled brat who had access to unlimited cash to invest into anything that could easily make him money. Not only is this baseless, it’s anti-American to attack people who keep this country competitive with the rest of the world. It also proves that people’s opinions are guided on their personal interpretation of someone’s intentions. In the era of dispelling misinformation and disinformation, it’s important to remember that just because you find a someone or a fact unpleasant doesn’t make them wrong.

Musk said he was going to vote Republican because he felt like the liberal ethos of kindness had left the Democrat party, and he isn’t alone in this belief. A lot of people feel that way. And as we’ve become more intolerant to each others’ political beliefs, party leaders have learned how to weaponize these trends. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make sense to take a blowtorch to someone whose life’s work has been in clean energy and sustainable space exploration, but here we are. Maybe climate change is only responsive to registered Democrats.

Throughout the last few years, we’ve had a global pandemic, social justice, a widening economic gap, and other major issues to contend with. This has caused both parties to go in very opposite directions, but as this has happened, independents and moderates have found themselves politically homeless. The one surviving thread that connects all Americans are economic concerns, and I suspect that the turnout during the midterm election will be motivated more by voters’ personal economic health than the issue salience that drove the 2020 presidential election.

If this projection is accurate, then yes, Democrats will be in trouble, and yes, they’ll blame the “villainous” billionaires for causing economic inequality when the government’s mismanagement of tax dollars and anti-growth business regulations are at the root of these disparities.

America is very quickly adopting cult-like approaches to politics, and it’s working against us. Instead of politicians calling this culture out, they’re embracing the extremist tropes and constituents are following their lead. This is not only hurting us socially, it’s also a national security issue. We know that in the past, foreign groups have been able to use discourse to interfere in our elections and social issues, and we know they’ll do it again.

The truth is that it isn’t the responsibility of Elon Musk or any other billionaire to save America or solve all of its problems. If it was, there would be no point in having a legislative branch of government. The onus is on the government to stop getting in America’s way of becoming a resource and financially independent country. It’s on the government to solve inequities and stop siphoning our hard-earned money to use on pet projects or things that benefit very few, then defaulting to blame the wealthy when they can’t figure out how to solve the problems they created and within a reasonable budget.

Unfortunately, until we agree that the government is responsible for the majority of the things we fight about and stop blaming the billionaire class, nothing will change.

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