Connect with us

Politics

The Elusive Politics of Elon Musk – The New York Times

Published

 on


The billionaire in pursuit of Twitter has often been described as a libertarian, but he has not shrunk from government help when it has been good for business.

The opinions poured in, 280 characters at a time, as to whether it was good or bad that Elon Musk had offered to buy Twitter for more than $40 billion and take it private.

A person’s politics typically dictated how they felt: Conservatives cheered it as victory for free speech. Liberals fretted that misinformation would spread rampantly if Mr. Musk followed through with his plan to dismantle how the social network monitors content.

But what no one seemed to be able to say with any certainty was what kind of political philosophy the enigmatic billionaire believes himself.

That’s because Mr. Musk, 50, who was born in South Africa and only became an American citizen in 2002, expresses views that don’t fit neatly into this county’s binary, left-right political framework.

He is frequently described as libertarian, though that label fails to capture how paradoxical and random his politics can be. He has no shortage of opinions on the most pertinent and divisive issues of the day, from Covid-19 lockdowns (“fascist,” he called them) to immigration restrictions (“Very much disagree,” he has said.)

There is not much consistency in the miscellany of his public statements or his profuse Twitter commentary — except that they often align with his business interests. And despite the intense partisan reaction to his unsolicited bid to buy Twitter, his opaque politics make it difficult to say whether the elation and fear about how he would run the company are justified.

He has railed against federal subsidies but his companies have benefited from billions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives from federal, state and local governments. He has strenuously opposed unionization, criticizing the Biden administration for proposing a tax credit for electric vehicles produced by union workers.

He is the co-founder of an electric car manufacturer, Tesla, who quit former President Donald J. Trump’s business councils after the administration pulled out of the Paris climate accord. But he recently ran afoul of environmentalists for calling for an immediate increase in domestic oil and gas production, though it would not be helpful to his own businesses in electric cars and solar energy.

He is an avowed enthusiast for the First Amendment. But he has tried to force a journalist to testify in a defamation lawsuit against him, and he has often had outsize reactions to criticism. Four years ago, he floated a plan to create a website to rate the credibility of reporters, calling it Pravda, in an odd nod to the Soviet Union’s propaganda publication. (Nothing much came of it). And a venture capitalist wrote at length about Mr. Musk canceling his order for a new Tesla after the investor complained about a Tesla event.

Mr. Musk said he was a registered independent when he lived in California, the state he famously and loudly left for Texas because he said its business climate had grown too inhospitable. He has described himself as “politically moderate” but added, “Doesn’t mean I’m moderate about all issues.” He did not respond to a request for comment.

His concerns about the way Twitter now censors content echo those of conservative activists and politicians who have argued that social media companies are poor arbiters of truth and should not be engaged in policing speech. One person who has worked closely with Mr. Musk said that it is Mr. Musk’s firmly held belief that in a functioning democracy, it is anyone’s right to say “whatever stupid thing you want.” This person, who spoke anonymously to not violate Mr. Musk’s trust, added dryly, “Which he occasionally does.”

If he should become Twitter’s owner, Mr. Musk said he would scrap the current program of content monitoring and censoring. Conservatives were elated. “Elon Musk seems to be our last hope,” declared Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

Justin Kaneps for The New York Times

Ordinarily, with public figures so outspoken and wealthy, their political leanings are easy to discern because they are explained in campaign finance disclosures. But Mr. Musk’s political giving is paltry compared with that of other billionaires like Charles Koch and Peter Thiel, whose donations have largely supported conservative Republicans, and George Soros, who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to liberal causes in recent years.

Mr. Musk tends to give only a few thousand dollars at a time — nothing like the tens of millions that Mr. Thiel has given this year to support candidates like J.D. Vance for Senate in Ohio, for instance. And his giving is fairly evenly distributed to candidates in both political parties. He has donated to stalwarts in the Democratic Party, including Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. But he has also cut checks to Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, and to the Republican National Committee.

Here, too, his actions appear to reflect the moves of someone who is not thinking ideologically but pragmatically. Many of his donations were funneled to politicians in states where Tesla has manufacturing operations like Texas and California. He has given to both Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, and Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat.

Mr. Musk has objected when politicians have tried to characterize his views as in sync with their own, insisting that he would rather leave politics to others, despite ample evidence on Twitter to the contrary. When Mr. Abbott last year defended a strict anti-abortion law that made the procedure virtually illegal in Texas by citing Mr. Musk’s support — “Elon consistently tells me that he likes the social policies in the state of Texas,” the governor said — Mr. Musk pushed back.

“In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness,” he responded on Twitter. “That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

If that’s the case, he often can’t seem to help himself. He heckles political figures who have taken a position he disagrees with or who have seemingly slighted him. Mr. Musk’s response to Senator Elizabeth Warren after she said that he should pay more in income taxes was, “Please don’t call the manager on me, Senator Karen.”

After one of Mr. Musk’s Twitter fans pointed out that President Biden had not congratulated SpaceX for the successful completion of a private spaceflight last fall, Mr. Musk hit back with a jab reminiscent of Mr. Trump’s derisive nickname “Sleepy Joe.”

“He’s still sleeping,” he replied. Several days later, he criticized the Biden administration as “not the friendliest” and accused it of being controlled by labor unions. These comments came just a few weeks after his insistence that he preferred to stay out of politics.

Few issues have raised his ire as much as the coronavirus restrictions, which impeded Tesla’s manufacturing operations in California and nudged him closer to his decision last year to move the company’s headquarters to Texas. That move, however, was very much symbolic since Tesla still has its main manufacturing plant in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb of Fremont, Calif., and a large office in Palo Alto.

Over the course of the pandemic, Mr. Musk’s outbursts flared dramatically as he lashed out at state and local governments over stay-at-home orders. He initially defied local regulations that shut down his Tesla factory in Fremont. He described the lockdowns as “forcibly imprisoning people in their homes” and posted a libertarian-tinged rallying cry to Twitter: “FREE AMERICA NOW.” He threatened to sue Alameda County for the shutdowns before relenting.

In an interview in the fall of 2020 with The New York Times’s contributing Opinion writer Kara Swisher, Mr. Musk expressed dismay over his belief that the pandemic had brought out irrational fears in many Americans. “It has diminished my faith in humanity, this whole thing,” he said.

At the same time, as the country’s nerves were fraying six months into an outbreak with no end in sight, social media companies came under pressure to take more proactive steps to limit the spread of false information about Covid-19 and the presidential election on their platforms.

And when new content moderation policies after the 2020 election began to affect users on Twitter — where Mr. Musk has 82 million followers — he sided with many conservatives and allies of the former president who accused the social media company of arbitrary censorship.

Many accounts that spread disinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines and voter fraud have been suspended or shut down. People like Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who denied the Sandy Hook massacre, and Mr. Trump, who used Twitter to rally his followers to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6, have been banned.

Supporters of the former president cheered his possible return to Twitter. A Republican congressman from Texas, Troy Nehls, tweeted, “Make Twitter Great Again.” For his part, Mr. Trump, who is promoting his own social media venture, Truth Social, said last week that he doesn’t think he will come back.

“Twitter’s become very boring. They’ve gotten rid of a lot of their good voices,” he complained in an interview on Americano Media, a Spanish language network.

But given Mr. Musk’s largely nondenominational political philosophy, some on the right were less sanguine. Ann Coulter, a frequent presence on Twitter, said that the billionaire entrepreneur struck her as “mostly apolitical” and “mostly about promoting himself.”

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Politics

WATCH: For the record, Tim Hudak is not returning to politics – BradfordToday

Published

 on


Tim Hudak spent more than two decades as a provincial politician at Queen’s Park, including five years as leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party. He is now CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), a position he has held since 2016.

Would the former Opposition Leader ever consider a political comeback?

Hudak was asked that question during a recent appearance on Inside the Village, a news podcast produced by Village Media. His answer was pretty unequivocal. 

You can watch the full interview here, or download the episode wherever you find your favourite podcasts.​

 google podcast Apple Podcast

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Marc Garneau on enjoying political life after cabinet ouster, writing his memoirs – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


Marc Garneau says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered him an opportunity to be Canada’s ambassador in France, but he turned it down for reasons that he was not going to discuss.Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

Had things gone as he hoped, Marc Garneau would be foreign affairs minster today, carrying on with a run in the cabinets of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that began when the Liberals won power in 2015.

But the 73-year-old former astronaut – once one of the highest-profile members of Mr. Trudeau’s cabinets for his roles as transport minister for five years and foreign affairs minister for nine months – was left out after the Liberals won a minority government last fall, a turn that caught many by surprise.

In an interview, the MP for the Montreal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount declined to say whether he would have run for his fifth term had he known he wouldn’t make it back to cabinet.

“Obviously, when I went into the election I was hoping to continue my work in foreign affairs, but I am also grounded in reality and know every new government is a new decision point for the prime minister to decide how he wants to compose his government. I was aware of these things, but I decided that I wanted to run again,” Mr. Garneau said from his Parliament Hill office.

Now, Mr. Garneau says, things are fine, and he is enjoying his roles as a chair, joint chair and member of various Parliament Hill committees.

“I am fully occupied with things that I do care deeply about so you move on in life and you enjoy what you have the chance to do, and as long as you feel the desire to serve you continue to do that.”

His roles include chair of the standing committee on Indigenous and Northern affairs, and joint chair of a Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.

“For me to have had an opportunity to work, in essence, on reconciliation through this standing committee and to work on a topic that is so important it can affect everybody, which is medical assistance in dying, those are very rewarding new responsibilities I am enjoying tremendously.”

For seven years of his political career, he was asking the questions on committees as a member of the opposition, and then for six years he was taking questions as a cabinet minister. “I was the one, if you would like, in the hot seat,” he said. Being the chair is a new experience. “It does require you to have a certain level of impartiality so the committee can function properly in the way it should and everyone has a voice. That was a bit of a learning curve for me.”

Peter Trent, the former mayor of the Montreal suburb of Westmount, is a long-time friend of Mr. Garneau. He was so taken aback by Mr. Garneau being left out of cabinet that he wrote a column for The Montreal Gazette that ran last October under the headline: “Marc Garneau, the ‘anti-politician,’ deserves better.” It was sharply critical of Mr. Trudeau’s judgment.

But, he says, Mr. Garneau has taken his fate well. “He’s accepted what happened in a very Zen way,” Mr. Trent said. “The rest of us aren’t as Zen and still harbour a strong resentment as to the way he was treated.”

Mr. Garneau is writing his memoirs, drafting a narrative on a life story that saw the Quebec City native serve in the navy and become, in 1984, the first Canadian in space when he served as a payload specialist on the Challenger space shuttle. He returned to space on subsequent missions, and was president of the Canadian Space Agency.

But elected politics beckoned. Mr. Garneau was first elected to Parliament in 2008, while Stephen Harper was prime minister. In 2012, he ran for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party, competing with, among others, his eventual boss at the cabinet table. He eventually left the race and endorsed Mr. Trudeau, who won.

Mr. Garneau stepped up work on his memoirs over a few weeks in December and January while recovering from hip-replacement surgery.

“I got quite a bit done,” he said. “I got the chapters from the beginning of my life up until I entered politics done, and I have had those reviewed by my dear wife and my daughter so those are in pretty good shape.” He does not have an agent or publisher.

When he was left out of cabinet, Mr. Garneau says his constituents and the media reacted more intensely than colleagues on Parliament Hill. “Here in Ottawa, I think people understand the way things go and that these are possible outcomes.”

Mr. Garneau says the Prime Minister offered him an opportunity to be Canada’s ambassador in France, but he turned it down for reasons that he was not going to discuss.

As for seeking another term, he notes the next election is three years away. “My health is good,” he said. “We’ll see.”

For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Ex-Wildrose leader Danielle Smith reannounces UCP leadership bid as next step in Alberta politics – Global News

Published

 on


Former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith reannounced that she will run in the upcoming United Conservative Party leadership race on Thursday.

She thanked Kenney for the work he has done for Alberta’s energy industry and added she wouldn’t mind seeing Kenney stay on as premier until a new leader has been elected.

Read more:

UCP begins search for new leader with Jason Kenney stepping down

“I want to start off by thanking Premier Jason Kenney for all the work that he’s done over the last number of years.

“I’ve decided to jump back into politics, seeking the leadership of the UCP. That is just a continuation of my last political life,” Smith said.


Click to play video: 'Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader'



2:28
Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader


Jason Kenney announces intention to step down as UCP leader

Smith spared no time getting into her platform, saying she will fix and restore faith in Alberta politics. She also said she will attempt to unite the UCP and pointed to the large number of people who registered to vote in Kenney’s leadership review.

“If you look at what happened during the UCP leadership contest, there were a lot of people who got brought into the UCP who had never been in politics before and I think that’s what has occurred,” Smith said.

“I think there has been a lot of division that has happened between friends and family, and we need to stop dividing people along identity lines… We are stronger united and that holds for our conservative movement as well.”

Read more:

Kenney’s plan to step down as UCP leader shows how hard merging 2 parties is: political commentator

Smith also said she wants to see more people run in the leadership race and noted she respects the role of individual MLAs in Alberta politics.

“I would love to see Todd Lowen and Drew Barnes throw their name in the race for UCP leadership. We need to start unifying the movement again and that’s going to require all hands on deck over the next couple of years,” Smith said.


Click to play video: 'UCP caucus meeting to discuss future after Jason Kenney announces plan to step down'



3:42
UCP caucus meeting to discuss future after Jason Kenney announces plan to step down


UCP caucus meeting to discuss future after Jason Kenney announces plan to step down

But Smith also spent time talking about her own credentials, saying she has a lot of experience as the former party leader for the Wildrose Party, which merged with the UCP in 2017.

She also talked about her time as a former radio host on 770 CHQR as proof she can “take the heat” in Alberta politics.

Read more:

Ex-Wildrose leader Danielle Smith returns to Alberta politics, will vote against Kenney leadership

“I’m not going to enter a contest thinking I’m going to come in second place… This is a real opportunity for the UCP to make sure that we’re selling memberships, that we’re getting people excited again.

“I can handle the heat. I have handled it for a lot of years, and that’s the way I conducted myself on the radio,” Smith said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending