I was going to write today about tomorrow’s election, but every time I start writing, I’m reminded of two people who aren’t on the ballot but who set the tone for a lot of what we see and hear these days. I was driven to a side street.
Last Friday, Elon Musk laid off half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees. This also included a team dedicated to fighting election misinformation.
This was after firing Twitter executives “for good reason” to avoid paying them the golden parachute he owed. After taunting the law firms he cooperated with, he suggested he sue them all.
And after Paul Pelosi posted an article suggesting he got drunk and had a fight with a male prostitute.
It’s been 10 days since Musk acquired Twitter.
But this was his MO all along.
When British diver Vernon Unsworth refused to rescue a boy soccer player trapped in a cave in Thailand, Musk called him a “Pedguy”. When the Securities and Exchange Commission pursued Mr. Musk, Mr. Musk tweeted that the “E” in his SEC stands for “Elon’s.” (You can guess what the “S” and “C” stand for.)
When public health officials denied permission to reopen his Tesla factory during the pandemic, he did it anyway. After several mainstream news outlets criticized Mr. Musk for his plans to launch a website that would rank the credibility of journalists, Mr. Musk called NXIVM his cult-published “excellent” analysis. I linked to what he described.
Taunt your opponent. He stiffens those he owes. Treat employees like shit. Refuse to be bound by law. Bully your opponent. insulting critic. I crave your attention. Refuse to be held accountable. It has attracted millions of followers and achieved cult status. to lie. Make a money gob. Impulsive. Unpredictable. ruthless. Autocratic. Persuasive.
reminds you of someone?
Musk isn’t exactly Donald Trump. They are a different generation, have different skills, and play different roles in the strange firmament of modern America. And Trump is far more dangerous to democracy – so far.
But both represent the emergence of a particular American identity in the early 21st century. Both use sledgehammers to protect their fragile egos. Both lack empathy. Both lie and promote baseless conspiracy theories (such as the one they made up about Paul Pelosi).
And both are indomitable self-advocates.
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Both are millionaires, but their main motivation is not money. nor is it driven by a larger purpose, principle, or ideology. Their sole goal is to imprint their monstrous ego on everyone else, i.e. to wield raw power over people.
Their politics are neither conservative nor liberal. Call it a megalomaniacal authoritarian. (Musk will likely give Trump back the giant Twitter megaphone he lost when he instigated an attack on the U.S. Capitol.)
but why now — Why did both achieve such prominence at this particular point in history, and why were so many people fascinated by them?
I think the answer is that a large portion of the American public projects their own needs and fantasies onto them. , desperate for a strong man to shake the system.
People who have been bullied their whole lives want to identify with super bullies who hold the finger to the regime, blaming no one but their greedy ego.
Their arrogance and firmness attract millions of followers, fans and cultists, as well as a sizeable number of rogues and thugs who wish to feel superior by proxy.
But they are not leaders. They are bullies who insult America.
Others aspire to the same position, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who flies illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Congressman Marjorie Taylor Green blames the wildfires on Jewish space lasers. Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake refuses to commit to the outcome of the upcoming election, even making fun of Paul Pelosi. And other notorious tech billionaires, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
But nothing compares to Masks and Trump.
be careful. The last time the world gave in to megalomania, it didn’t end well. Gilded Age robber baron — William (“Curse the masses”) Men like Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller siphoned off much of the nation’s wealth, so the rest of the nation had to struggle with debt. To maintain their standard of living and the overall demand for the goods and services that the country produces.
When the debt bubble burst in 1929, the world was hit by the Great Depression. And that Great Depression paved the way for Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler. They have created the worst threat to liberty and democracy and the highest number of deaths the modern world has ever witnessed.
We are much safer when economic and political power is widely dispersed. We are in a better position when people like Musk and Trump cannot have such unfettered wealth and influence.
We all do better when fewer Americans feel helpless and insecure and are drawn to reprehensible bullies who cross the public stage as if they were worthy. I can.