Big Tech Finds Itself Lacking Political Allies


Our nation’s ruling tech oligarchs may be geniuses in making money through software, but they are showing themselves to be not so adept in the less quantifiable world of politics. Once the toast of the political world, the ever more economically dominant tech elite now face growing political opposition, both domestically and around the world.

For its part, the right has been alienated by the tech establishment’s one-sided embrace of progressive dogma in everything from gender politics and the environment to open borders and post-nationalism. The left is also now decisively turning against tech leaders on a host of issues, from antitrust enforcement to wealth redistribution and concerns about the industry’s misogynist culture, so evident in firms such as Uber.

This mounting bipartisan opposition is placing the oligarchs into an increasingly uncomfortable political vise. As left-leaning Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith put it recently, there’s “a kind of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ alliance against big tech: Everyone wants to kill them.”

Politics after Obama

It’s hard to recall that Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in 2011 actually celebrated the life of Apple founder Steve Jobs — a brilliant, but ruthless, capitalist, but also one who founded a religion-like technology cult. President Barack Obama also clearly embraced the techie economic model, and used Google and other tech talent in his data-driven campaigns.

Obama was their kind of progressive — socially liberal but comfortable with hierarchy, particularly of the college-educated kind. Just a few years ago, author Greg Ferenstein suggested that Silicon Valley would forge an entirely new liberal political ideology built around its technocratic agenda. Big tech’s ascendency was further bolstered by a “progressive” Justice Department that allowed the large tech firms to buy out and squeeze competitors with utter impunity.

Advocating antitrust at a nonprofit organization dominated by tech oligarchs, as one of my former colleagues at the liberal-leaning New America Foundation recently found out, can be dangerous for your employment status. Gradually, the image of spunky, enlightened entrepreneurs has morphed into one of monopolists reigning over what is rapidly becoming the most consolidated of our major industries.

No one really expects competition to rise against venture capital-created firms like Google, which owns upwards of 80 percent of the global search ad market, or Facebook, which uses its power to undermine upstarts like Snap, and calls for greater government oversight are now found on both sides of the aisle.

Kowtowing to the left has not turned out to be as clever a move as the tech oligarchs believed.

The Democrats, as it now appears, have been taken over by Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose redistributionist, pro-regulation agenda does not sit well with the likes of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s third-richest man, who last year used the Washington Post to try to undermine Sanders during his presidential campaign.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of He is the Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University and executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book is The Human City: Urbanism for the rest of us. He is also author of The New Class ConflictThe City: A Global History, and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

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