Conservatives, don't make a savior out of Elon Musk
Will he or won't he?
More than two months after he agreed to purchase the social media semi-giant for $44 billion, Elon Musk still hasn't closed his Twitter deal. While a myriad of excuses are made as to why it doesn't appear to be moving forward, there's a much larger issue in the background: the wheels are finally coming off Elon Musk's bus.
So many headlines now emerge daily from the impossibly overcomplicated life Musk leads that there is a large subsection of the media entirely devoted to following his every move. Yet while the World of Elon begins to truly unravel, conservative "leaders" continue to tout him as the answer to all of the right's strategic shortcomings. Why focus on actual issues when a magic savior is coming to the rescue?
Musk-worship was foolish enough in April, but it's now absolutely ridiculous in the summertime.
The closing days of June brought revelations wild enough to stun even the most seasoned observers. In a newly released interview with a company-sanctioned fan club, Musk said Tesla's car factories were "losing billions of dollars."
"Both Berlin and Austin factories are gigantic money furnaces right now. Okay? It's really like a giant roaring sound, which is the sound of money on fire," Musk told interviewers.
Meanwhile, newly fired Tesla employees have filed suit, claiming that the lack of notice before a mass staff redundancy (at least 10%) violated federal law. In another new court filing, he's accused of conducting a pump-and-dump scheme involving cryptocurrency Dogecoin, which he has often touted on social media.
On Twitter, he claims to be a "free speech absolutist" determined to open the public square. However, recent actions tell a different story and signal looming problems for supportive conservatives he frequently disagrees with on top policy issues.
On June 16, the New York Times reported that workers at SpaceX — Elon Musk's rocket company — wrote a letter to company executives stating that the CEO's "behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us." SpaceX fired the letter's organizers almost instantaneously because their actions supposedly made other employees "feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied."
Did this letter really affect workplace morale, or did an adverse reaction from a notoriously erratic boss prompt their firing?
According to the Daily Caller, this wouldn't be the first time Musk has punished critics for exercising free speech rights. Musk has, according to the Caller, reportedly "fired [Tesla] employees who disagree with him"; "told hostile questioners on earnings calls that he won't tolerate 'boring, boneheaded questions'"; and "interrupted the NASA administrator at a press conference to tell the reporter asking questions to 'move on.'"
So much for "free speech"! Musk's definition clearly differs from that of the world. He has remarked that if there's "a lot of controversy," Twitter-minders may intercede to block it. He has also made clear that "by 'free speech,' [he] simply mean[s] that which matches the law" and that censorship is okay.
For conservatives who believe that this billionaire is about to bring digital salvation, this presents a significant problem. Musk appears to believe that many alternate viewpoints are dangerous, meaning they may fit under his "acceptable censorship" classification.
Musk is a staunch proponent of gun control, for example. In May, he wrote, "[A]ssault rifles should at minimum require a special permit, where the recipient is extremely well-vetted." Will he quash opposing Second Amendment views? Many of his fellow gun control advocates will push to make sure the answer is yes.
He has also said that "Climate Change is the biggest threat that humanity faces this century, except for AI" and runs a business that caters to this "single biggest threat." Does that mean skeptics could be yanked from Twitter?
Or how about abortion? Musk's Tesla is now covering travel expenses for those seeking out-of-state abortions, helping them skirt Texas law outlawing abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Whether Elon perceives disagreement over this issue as "controversial" enough to curtail user speech is unclear, but conservatives are clearly overconfident that he will protect varying viewpoints.
Whatever the true intentions behind his bid for Twitter may be, complacency on the right in the face of a history of suppression and retaliation against critics is dangerous. That's what makes the current love affair with this eccentric madman truly twisted.
For conservatives in 2022, a focused, Musk-free strategy should be so simple. With Joe Biden polling miserably and Democrats inexplicably clinging to a wildly unpopular agenda, Republicans need only focus on taming epic inflationary pressures plus shortages of food, energy, and basic goods to win in November.
Voters are also screaming for real leadership to tackle shocking increases in crime, extremist agendas in public schools, and intentionally lax border security. It's bad out there and getting worse, creating a target-rich environment for opposition candidates.
Sadly, however, conservatives have a long, bizarre history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It sometimes takes the form of peculiar distractions that de-emphasize campaigning in favor of magic saviors who will lead us toward future glory. How this destructive habit will be broken remains unknown.
Brian Maloney is the co-founder of the Media Equality Project, a conservative watchdog group. Follow him on Twitter at @SScalpings.
Image: JD Lasica via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).