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Silicon Valley All Grown Up
Big Tech Firms Back GOP Candidates

Silicon Valley is no longer a reliable ally for Democrats. In 2016, several major tech PACs donated more money to GOP congressional candidates than they did to Democratic ones. Thomas Edsall discusses the development in the New York Times:

In 2016, the corporate PACs associated with Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Amazon broke ranks with the traditional allegiance of the broad tech sector to the Democratic Party. All four donated more money to Republican Congressional candidates than they did to their Democratic opponents.

As these technology firms have become corporate behemoths, their concerns over government regulatory policy have intensified — on issues including privacy, taxation, automation and antitrust. These are questions on which they appear to view Republicans as stronger allies than Democrats.

In 2016, the PACs of these four firms gave a total of $3.6 million to House and Senate candidates. Of that, $2.1 million went to Republicans, and $1.5 million went to Democrats. These PACs did not contribute to presidential candidates.

The PACs stand apart from donations by employees in the technology and internet sectors. According to OpenSecrets, these employees gave $42.4 million to Democrats and $24.2 million to Republicans.

As Edsall notes, Silicon Valley clearly preferred Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, but that didn’t stop major companies from supporting other GOP candidates. Edsall ascribes this political shift to many causes, including the growing tension between solidarity with the Left on social issues and dissonance on economic issues. The Democratic Party’s leftward turn on taxes and regulation worries executives who would prefer to see tax and regulatory reforms.

This is the maturation of Silicon Valley industry from an upstart revolutionary to a middle-aged adult. As Wall Street and other business sectors do, Silicon Valley is now hedging its political bets so that it retains influence and respect no matter who is in power. Silicon Valley is joining a venerable tradition in American politics going back to when banks dramatically switched from supporting Alton B. Parker to Theodore Roosevelt after polls indicated Roosevelt was way ahead. Private sector interests aren’t always advocating specific issues—they’re often simply making sure they have a foot in both doorways. So while yes, this is a reflection of misaligned policy preferences, it’s also simply a sign that companies like Google and Facebook are now operating more like GE and Citibank than like the startups they used to be.

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  • Dhako

    In any other country if their businesses was in cahoot with their political parties or were paying a large amount of money to the very legislators that were meant to supervise them, and write laws these businesses were supposed to be governed under, I am sure, the averagely-intelligent American will call that state of affairs, as nothing but the sordid doings of a “Crony Capitalism” in action. But, America , it seems, being an exceptional nation (or more likely exceptionally deluded nation) such transparent logic doesn’t apply to them in reverse.

    Hence, where America is concern, what is a “corrupting sauce” for other nations’s goose, is not the same watery “corrupting sauce” for the America’s gander. And there lies America’s self-justifying delusion in which other nations in which America never get tired in lecturing them about “good governance”, will always treat such delusion with a combination of contempt and indifference.

    Lets hope, that, the recent election of most corrupt leader the US ever had (which is the polite definition of certain chap by the name of Mr Trump) will have a sufficiently salutary effect on that “{granite-like” self-justifying delusion on the part of US, particularly in their thinking that it’s only other countries who conduct a corrupt practices in their governmental processes, but not by the government of the “alleged” Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

    • Genesis123

      Only 3 paragraphs this time. I see you are improving. Now, condense what you wrote into one paragraph and I may start reading it. But definite signs of improvement. A for effort, B- for execution.

    • Tom

      You seem to be under a misapprehension about how Americans regard other countries.
      Then again, given your abysmal understanding of your own country’s state of affairs, it should not be surprising that you would misunderstand the US of A.

    • FriendlyGoat

      You are actually correct about the theme of your first paragraph, but your sales technique needs a softer touch.

      • Anthony

        FG, he’s converting thoughts and ideas into a second language (and doing a reasonably capable job at it). Have some of his critics translate English into Mandarian and write about China for comparison.

    • Disappeared4x
  • FriendlyGoat

    Businesses often give to whomever they think may win an election. Often that means giving to both sides as insurance. As for tech corporations, of course they do not “turn down” tax cuts and certain kinds of deregulation. Some of them favored Clinton because they favored stability and at least the talk of “good faith and fair dealing”. But boardrooms will absolutely adapt to whatever is in place and they will do it quickly. It’s not really a different skill than that of trying to please customers.

  • Kevin

    I wonder if money simply matters more at the Congressional level than at the Presidential. Certainly the marginal value of a dollar is higher to a congressional candidate who can’t get as much free media.

  • Frank Natoli

    The very dumbest people in America are those who (a) vote Democratic because they like how Democrat legislators will hammer business, and (b) are not independently wealthy and thus are dependent on some business for their employment and livelihood.
    Ever meet some of them?

    • Genesis123

      Yes I have. I sometimes wonder how these people dress themselves in the morning.

    • Boritz

      Yes. A co-worker once asked me, “Why do you think I vote Democrat!?” My answer: Because they do a better job than the Republicans beating up the businesses your 401(k) is invested in. [speared grouper expression]

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