Most people in the tech world hold a mixed view of Peter Thiel. To some, he is the epitome of success, building PayPal and Palantir, two of Silicon Valley’s two biggest success stories. To others, he is a vengeful tycoon who used his vast wealth to bankrupt a media outlet that outed him as gay by financing Hulk Hogans lawsuit over the publication of a sex tape. Whatever your opinion of the man, he is a force in tech and he is gaining a higher profile in politics too.
Thiel spoke at the Republican National Convention, probably one of the least hospitable places in the world for a gay person, outside of nations like Iran or Uganda. On the stage, during his speech, he said that he was proud to be gay. It was a moment for the United States to be happy about, here we have a gay leader using a historically homophobic stage to break through and get a positive message across. For a moment, it seemed like Thiel was poised to bring some tolerance to the GOP.
Then the news broke, Thiel is donating $1.25 million to Donald Trump’s campaign. I get being a Republican and having conservative values. Thiel does not fit into a traditional model but that does not mean he needs to be a blanket progressive either. Clearly, Thiel is a Republican because of his money, which makes sense. The difference between Republican tax policies and Democrat tax policies could mean hundreds of millions of dollars for him. I get that. It’s the society we live in.
But giving money to Donald Trump? At this stage of the game? Either Thiel lost a bet, or he is absolutely out of his mind. That money would be better used in countless ways, since giving it to Trump will have zero effect on the outcome of the presidential race but will leave a lasting tarnish on Thiel’s name.
This sort of I-do-it-because-I-can political donation is why regular people hate rich people, and don’t think that people will forget. Just because you don’t care what you do with your money doesn’t mean that others don’t either. There are countless charities and initiatives that help improve the lives of people that need it most.
Thiel, you had a shot to be a crusader, instead you’re squandering that opportunity by being a clown.