Donald Trump

Peter Thiel, Radical Libertarian Futurist, Thinks Donald Trump Can Rebuild America

Doesn't give reason why. Also: Historical GOP convention declaration that he's "proud to be gay" flies fine with crowd.

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Since it was announced back in May that PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor and eccentric multibillionaire Peter Thiel, famous for investing in outre longevity technologies, building free cities in the ocean, paying kids not to go to college, and dissing democracy, was going to serve as a delegate for Donald Trump at the Republican Party convention, those who found Thiel at least inspirationally bizarre were at the very least confused.

Most other big Silicon Valley money and minds were openly hostile to Trump, for many issues including his hostility to immigration and desire to force American companies to make things where he thinks they should make them, neither policy very good for Silicon Valley. Thiel's colleagues tend to just sigh about why Thiel has become a Trump booster. (Thiel is an immigrant himself, born in West Germany.)

Was he doing it because he secretly believes a Trump presidency will actually discredit democracy and government? Is he trying to position Palantir, his data surveillance company, for even more government financing and deals?

In his speech before the Republican convention tonight, you wouldn't know he had particularly radical political commitments at all. (Nor did he talk about his most recent media notoriety, for funding the lawsuits aimed at taking down the website Gawker, a move upsetting to many fans of a free press.)

Thiel sort of alluded to being anti-political, noting Trump is also not a politician. Thiel in tonight's speech implicitly believes, against most of his earlier politician statements, that somehow the federal government has the smarts, the right, and the ability to "rebuild America" with Trump at the helm, and that government ought to be spending more on high-tech.

A couple of elements that seemed at least dog whistles to the libertarian community: he does seem to speak from a perspective, common among libertarians and not very common outside of them, that bankers are guilty of creating inflationary bubbles.

He also spoke of the one area where some libertarians have strong commitments to Trump: the belief that he would be far less likely to wage "stupid wars" (although so much of this convention was about a strong commitment to overseas wars to allegedly end the terror threat of ISIS).

As much of the pre-speech chatter stressed, Thiel is gay, supposedly the first openly gay speaker at a GOP convention since then-Rep Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) 2000, and announced he was "proud" to be so and seemed the right guy to mock debates over gendered bathrooms. He admits he does not agree with every plank in the Party platform.

In summation, Thiel claims to sincerely believe that "When Donald Trump asks us to Make America Great Again, he's not suggesting a return to the past. He's running to lead us back to that bright future."

How? Why? What makes him think this? What makes him think this is a valuable and proper use of his reputation? (By all current accounts, Thiel has yet to donate any of his estimated $3 billion to supporting Trump's campaign or Trump PACs.) With no mention of any specific Trumpian governing or economic policy (certainly not his immigration and trade stances), largely bromide filled, delivering little based in Thiel's particular political pre-commitments except being interested in technology and the future, this speech did not quite make that clear.

The history-making "proud to be gay" line did not seem, from my perspective watching on TV, to bother many and got a perfectly fine reception from the crowd on the floor at the convention.

NEXT: The Fifth Column From the RNC!

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  1. The history-making “proud to be gay” line did not seem, from my perspective watching on TV, got a perfectly fine reception from the crowd on the floor at the convention.

    I don’t get the wonderment. The pre-Trump GOP is a completely different animal than the post-Trump GOP. It’s like expressing amazement that people entered the Forbidden City yesterday without being summarily executed. The GOP has undergone a complete ideological and demographic shift. Why is this so hard to understand?

    1. Ideological shift yes but demographic shift, I’m not so sure about. I guess we’ll find out from the results in November.

      1. I agree that it ain’t over till the fat lady sings in Nov., but I think Ken Schultz has made a convincing case that the GOP has seen a massive influx of what was once called “hard-hat Democrats”. Just as the Never Trump demographic has fled, in theory. It would be interesting to see the stats on the mean income, or whatever socioeconomic status indicator, of the typical Republican voter pre- and post-Trump.

    2. The initial posting of this also completley jumbled that sentence, corrected after a couple of minutes.

      1. No explanations or apologies needed. We longtime readers expect that.

      2. Duly noted.

        Now give us an edit button, please.

        1. Edit button, up and down votes for comments, and reply notifications would be a nice start.

          1. Although I have to say that my phone’s retarded auto-correct has led to some hilarious typos. So much so that I now leave them if I notice them before hitting “submit.”

          2. They would need to use a different commenting software. I, for one, wish they would. It would probably make me more active on the site.

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    6. Posts like this make me yearn for an up arrow to hammer.

  2. Must we take seriously every crank who calls himself libertarian?

    1. A lot of the uber wealthy like to throw around the libertarian label (Thiel, Cuban, and Musk come to mind) without necessarily always following libertarian values.

      1. There are no wealthy libertarians. If you are rich, and especially if you have a business, you don’t want the eye of Sauron on you. You have too much to lose. Thiel is just positioning himself here for some juicy crony benefits once Trump is in power.

        1. Playing the game with government as it has to be played right now, and advocating for change, are not mutually exclusive or inconsistent.

          There are many laws that I disagree with but that I nevertheless follow. Likewise, there are tax benefits and government benefits that I think should be abolished that I nevertheless take advantage of.

        2. Wow. Thiel individually may be an unprincipled schmuck, but a line like “Wealthy people dont really believe X” is the sort of baseless class accusation I expect from socialists. Im sure that whole Koch running for the libertarian party ticket way back when was just a ploy to take advantage of all of the deepseated Lib. Party influence in congress to help sell oil right?

  3. See, libertarians ARE for Trump. GayJay’s supporters are economically-literate Bernie bros and #NeverTrump neocon housewives who passionately believe that Jeb! was robbed.

    1. sssshhhh—no one’s supposed to be noticing that.

    2. Thanks for starting my day off right with a breakfast of champions.

  4. How? Why? What makes him think this?

    Maybe you should try and ask him.

    It would probably yield better material than “the unabridged Don King”

    1. He has never made himself available to the press on the topic, to us or anyone that I’ve ever seen. And it’s kind of a built in assumption that a speech trying to sell a point would give a hint of reason for the point.

      1. And it’s kind of a built in assumption that a speech trying to sell a point would give a hint of reason for the point.

        Really? I’ve never been to a political party-convention. i assume like corporate conventions, they’re all about stating lofty ambitious goals without ever suggesting exactly how you are going to get there.

        to wit – Obama’s 2012 DNC speech =

        I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country, goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security and the deficit, real, achievable plans that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that is why I am running for a second term as president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.) We can choose a future where we export more products and outsource fewer jobs. ….

        AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

        We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports. And if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years. You can make that happen. (Cheers, applause.)

        strangely, you don’t see a lot in terms of “The means by which these things will happen”

        1. I’m glad you are so satisfied with contentless political rhetoric, from Obama or Thiel, that you take your time to defend it. I’m not.

          1. Pol-i-tics Pol-i-tics Pol-i-tics!!!

          2. defending it? I am just noting that expecting otherwise seems remarkably naive

            1. Dennis, you are on my side. And if Brian Doherty has crossed the line, cot damn. Brian Doherty is Mr. No Side. Trump has made people go crazy!. C’mon, join me on the alt-rock side of things

  5. its a little odd when you’ve got one headline

    Peter Thiel Speaking at RNC in Cleveland Is Interesting and Weird. And Really Good.“”

    right next to this one, which is basically saying

    Peter Thiel Speaking at RNC in Cleveland Is Batshit Crazy. We Suspect Ulterior Motives.”

  6. “a move upsetting to many fans of a free press”

    Oh horseshit.

    Free press does not preclude sanctions when the exercise of such freedom results in direct harm.

    Those people you describe are not fans of “a free press,” they are authoritarians seeking special privilege for certain publications and/or specific deeds.

  7. , common among libertarians and not very common outside of them, that bankers are guilty of creating inflationary bubbles.

    You mean the (((bankers))). I’ll let regular poster (((renigade))) explain this.

  8. If I can channel Thiel here…

    First of all, Trump’s positions aren’t quite as awful as Hillary’s. Furthermore, whatever visions Trump has for the country, he is going to have a really tough time passing laws because Congress hates him and because he lacks the connections and experience to get much done.

    1. Yeah, I don’t understand why more libertarians don’t see that. Hillary will get a free pass to do whatever she likes. If Trump gets into office, the media, congress, courts and maybe event the military will all stand up to oppose him. It’s the opportunity of a life time for those who want to scale back the power of the executive branch.

  9. Was he doing it because he secretly believes a Trump presidency will actually discredit democracy and government? Is he trying to position Palantir, his data surveillance company, for even more government financing and deals?

    Is he one of the crab people from planet Gelgamech? The White Wizard, come to us now a the turn of the tide?

    Or maybe, just maybe, like most people who say they prefer a presidential candidate, he actually prefers the guy he says he prefers because he thinks that candidate will make the best president.

    Nah, that can’t be it. Doesn’t fit the narrative of sneering at Trump.

    Thiel in tonight’s speech implicitly believes …

    In other words, Thiel never said anything of the kind, but it’s fun to put words in his mouth.

    Have Reason writers always been this transparently dishonest, or has the Progressitarian wave brought Progressive “any means necessary” tactics to Reason?

    1. It’s the simple fact that Trump–a non republican, has managed through sheer force of bombast, personality, and vulgarity, to do what the LP has repeatedly failed to do–get someone outside the duopoly into actual contention for the White House.

      They’re seething–because he’s so full of stuff that their osmotically absorbed leftism sees as ‘badthink’–and they can’t stop it.

      Expect the shrieking to get louder and stranger as the election looms–until they’re openly calling for voting for and acquiescence to rampant out and out leftism as if it’s the only libertarianism there is.

      1. Either that or they think Trump is a prick.

        You don’t spend much time here, do you? This is not a LP magazine.

      2. It was sort of exhilarating to see ignorant superstitious rednecks select one of their own and eliminate the smarmy middlemen with their pro-life-after-death political machine. By saying he likes libertarians Trump hedged against a stiletto in the slats from his buddies. His endorsement would have brought us as many votes as his party’s moronic platform. Either way the LP benefits and the cause of freedom is advanced.

  10. I, at first, thought this an odd year for a libertarian such as Thiel to endorse the republican candidate. Then I thought about all the other years’ republican candidates. And then I thought about this year’s Democratic candidate. So maybe this is the best year so far. Still, it seems that republican primary voters skipped over other candidates who would lean more toward civil liberties and limited government in favor of an authoritarian strong-man. And it doesn’t seem like Gary is doing much to help himself. His campaign feels like Bush ’92 to me.

    At any rate, it was probably a smart move. Its generally better to build bridges than vilify. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? Interesting move. And I’ll say one thing: I think a Trump presidency will be much more interesting than a Clinton presidency.

  11. “The history-making “proud to be gay” line did not seem, from my perspective watching on TV, to bother many and got a perfectly fine reception from the crowd on the floor at the convention.”

    That last line shows that you have been fully propagandized by the libtard propaganda machine into thinking the Republican party is filled with racist, sexist, homophobic hillbillies.
    Sure, there is the fringe, but the vast majority is very moderate, quite socially liberal and has been for well over a decade. Most in the party are there because their fiscal conservatism is stronger than their social liberalism.

    The Republican party platform is significantly more moderate than the Dem party platform. Only propaganda makes America believe otherwise.

    To modify the classic northern/southern racism allegory. Republicans recoil from gay/black/whatever culture, but like and support every gay/black/etc they know. Dems embrace gay/black/whatever culture, but keep every gay/black/etc they know at a distance.

    1. So much ^^this^^!

    2. I’m absolutely loving Reason commenters today. Dammit!

  12. Suddenly I no longer regret dropping out of the Libertarian Futurist Society.

  13. What could be more brilliant than a seasteading advocate supporting the candidate most likely to make Americans want to flee the country into the oceans?

  14. to the surprise of pretty much all retards and leftists (huge overlap), Republicans don’t want gays slaughtered in the streets and night clubs or anywhere else in our country even if they don’t think gay marriage, particularly gay marriage imposed by unelected judges shredding the constitution, is a good policy.

    Unfortunately, for many like Thiel, they simply fail to grasp that conservatives are not the aggressors in these fake culture wars. Leftists need to stop trying to run our lives, telling us what to think and corrupting our judiciary by imposing every radical idea that wouldn’t pass via democratic methods.

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  16. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  17. The average Republican (or Democrat or Libertarian for that matter) could care less whether someone is gay and considers them to be Americans first. The RNC correctly labeled all Americans as Americans and vowed to protect them all.

    Kaine and Unable have launched their joint effort by speaking to Americans in Spanish.

    Meanwhile Johnson is telling the survivors of Orlando the threat of radical Islam is overblown. I guess it’s hard to see what’s going on when your head is so far up your own ass.

    On a weekly basis now we read of yet another mass attack on civilians in the US or somewhere else in the world. It used to be a tasteless joke to say ‘I bet the guy was named Mohammed and shouted Allahu Akbar’. Now it’s just what statisticians or bookees would call the prudent bet and the rest of us call common sense.

    Inevitably authorities say ‘We don’t know what his motivation could have been’ as they warn citizens not to say anything offensive to the Muslim community then remind them the problem is their own guns. Meanwhile, in another app, the survivors are watching the perpetrator calling for jihad on Youtube.

    We keep reliving that same cycle over and over again with the slightest of variations. Americans have grown tired of being played. They know who led us to this point. They know who is likely to lead us away from this point. And they will respond appropriately in November.

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