Silicon Valley's tech tycoons have been lurching towards the right wing for years now. But with the Valley's valuations climbing to record heights, those billionaires are backing Republicans like never before—and the party of obstruction is willing to say whatever it takes to get their dollars.
Senator Rand Paul, who already announced a new office opening in the Bay Area, made another swing through San Francisco this week to talk about his "ideas" for America. This time, the expected 2016 presidential candidate appeared on stage at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on a panel entitled "Why Can't Tech Save Politics?"
Paul was joined by Democratic boosters Eric Schmidt and venture capitalist John Doerr, with muckraking journalist Bob Woodward moderating the discussion. Much to Woodward's disbelief, it turned into a techie lovefest.
Paul launched into a series of metaphors to explain Obamacare problems, and I couldn't quite follow, but he began with mouthwash, which led to eye surgery, and concluded with: "Obamacare creates an artificial market."
Maybe the solution is — oh I don't know, more entrepreneurs?
"So is the solution here is to make the federal government into a big giant venture capital firm?" Woodward asked.
"Partially, that is the answer," Paul concurred.
Yes and yes, Doerr said.
There's so much wrong here, it's hard to know where to start. Venture capitalists have undeniably created a mess of wealth for themselves. But they've also propped up so many doomed companies, it's hard to imagine that a VC government wouldn't create dozens of faltering Obamacare websites in their wake. Hell, tech's very own healthcare startup is already fucked.
Rand Paul, U.S. Republican senator from Kentucky, on student-teacher-ratios: "I think we should go a million to one! Ten million to one!"
Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, seemed to agree with this, but added: "Gamify the lessons. … As jobs get automated away, the only thing we can do is have smarter people." [...]
The way to make sure that the environment is always protected is to make it profitable," Paul opined. "You gotta make it profitable, and then it goes on and on forever."
This panel of political samesies was inevitable: the marriage of tech and the GOP has been years in the making. Peter Thiel famously helped bankroll Ron Paul's failed presidential ambition and both Larry Ellison and Marc Andreessen dished out to a Romney super PAC in 2012.
Now Thiel is painted as a Republican heavyweight. A recent profile of Thiel's political clout by the San Jose Mercury News reported he wants to help the party "embraces a platform of technology and innovation." To do so, Thiel has showered Republican presidential hopefuls like Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz with donations.