Tech billionaire Peter Thiel, a major supporter of Republican nominee Donald Trump, said that Trumpism “isn’t crazy and it’s not going away” during a major speech in front of the National Press Club on Monday.
Thiel, who has been heavily criticised by fellow Silicon Valley tech magnates for his unabashedly pro-Trump stance, which was capped off with his speech in front of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer, said the Manhattan billionaire “points toward a new Republican Party beyond the dogmas of Reaganism.”
“He points even beyond the remaking of one party to a new American politics that overcomes denial, rejects bubble thinking, and reckons with reality,” he said, per prepared remarks. “When the distracting spectacles of this election season are forgotten and the history of our time is written, the only important question will be whether or not that new politics came too late.”
The founder of PayPal and prominent venture capitalist who helped bankroll wrestling star Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit that ended up crushing the news website Gawker acknowledged the election year has been “crazy.”
“Real events seem like they’re rehearsals for Saturday Night Live,” he said. “Only an outbreak of insanity would seem to account for the unprecedented fact that this year a political outsider managed to win a major party nomination.”
“To the people who are used to influencing our choice of leaders, to the wealthy people who give money and the commentators who give reasons why, it all seems like a bad dream,” he continued. “Donors don’t want to find out how and why we got here. They just want to move on. Come November 9th, they hope everyone else will go back to business as usual.”
The election, he added, “is less crazy than the condition of our country.”
Thiel criticised the rising costs of medicine, the country’s overpriced healthcare system, outstanding student debt held by many young Americans, stagnant incomes, and the country’s involvement in foreign wars.
“Now, not everyone is hurting,” he said. “In the wealthy suburbs that ring Washington, DC, people are doing just fine. Where I work in Silicon Valley, people are doing just great. But most Americans don’t live by the Beltway or the San Francisco Bay. Most Americans haven’t been part of that prosperity.
“It shouldn’t be surprising to see people vote for Bernie Sanders, or for Donald Trump, who is the only outsider left in the race.”
Thiel said he doesn’t agree with “everything” Trump “has said and done,” pointing out his boasts of being able to make unwanted sexual advances on women in a leaked tape from 2005.
“Nobody thinks his comments about women were acceptable; I agree they were clearly offensive and inappropriate,” he said. “But I don’t think voters pull the lever in order to endorse a candidate’s flaws. It’s not a lack of judgment that leads Americans to vote for Trump; we’re voting for Trump because we judge the leadership of our country to have failed.”
His fellow coastal elites, he said, are intimidated to dissent from what he essentially deemed as groupthink that says the views of “half of the country” can not be tolerated.
“This intolerance has taken on some bizarre forms,” he said. “The Advocate, a magazine which once praised me as a “gay innovator,” even published an article saying that as of now I am, and I quote, “not a gay man,” because I don’t agree with their politics.
“The lie behind the buzzword of “diversity” could not be made more clear: if you don’t conform, then you don’t count as ‘diverse,’ no matter what your personal background.”
Thiel then began attacking the country’s free trade agreements, a common theme of Trump’s presidential campaign. He then went back to criticising America’s involvement in foreign wars, claiming that the Democratic Party is now more hawkish than the GOP, and Trump voters are voting against such involvement.
“Voters are tired of being lied to,” he said. “It was both insane and somehow inevitable that DC insiders expected this election to be a rerun between the two political dynasties who led us through the two most gigantic financial bubbles of our time.”
“President George W. Bush presided over the inflation of a housing bubble so big that its collapse is still causing economic stagnation today,” he continued. “But what’s strangely forgotten is that last decade’s housing bubble was just an attempt to make up for the gains that had been lost in the decade before that.
“In the 1990s, President Bill Clinton presided over an enormous stock market bubble and a devastating crash in 2000, just as his second term was coming to an end. That’s how long the same people have been pursuing the same disastrous policies.”
Trump is rejecting those stories, he said, adding that while no one would suggest the real estate magnate is “humble,” he’s right about a “much-needed dose of humility” in US politics.
“Voters are tired of hearing conservative politicians say that government never works,” Thiel said. “They know the government wasn’t always this broken. The Manhattan Project, the Interstate Highway System, and the Apollo Program — whatever you think of these ventures, you cannot doubt the competence of the government that got them done.
“But we have fallen very far from that standard, and we cannot let free market ideology serve as an excuse for decline.”