Why anti-worker Musk pushed anti-woke DeSantis on Twitter
The little blue bird crashes: Elon Musk's plan to make a big splash at the DeSantis campaign launch ended up a flop after Twitter's Spaces service failed to launch for more than 30 minutes on Wednesday evening. | AP

Did you catch Ron DeSantis’s announcement on Twitter? No?

Of course not. Who in their right mind would waste their time listening to DeSantis being interviewed by Elon Musk? Who would want to give any credence at all to the anti-woke culture warrior and the anti-worker robber baron?

It was a technical fiasco, anyway. So much for Twitter.

But the real significance of DeSantis’s announcement via Twitter has nothing to do with technical glitches and not even with DeSantis’s chances of becoming president.

The real news was not the glitches or the presidential campaign announcement but that Twitter, under Elon, has fully embraced the political right.

Elon wants to be the darling of libertarian bros, but he’s aiming to lead democracy’s foes. The anti-woke robber barron wants to crush unions and declare the United States a free-to-make-as-much-as-you-can-on-the-backs-of-working-stiffs zone.

Drawing by Víctor Meléndez / People’s World

He calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” but that’s utter bulltwat. He wants to elevate the speech of people like DeSantis but suppress the speech of workers who want to unionize. He’s even gone along with Turkey’s recent ban on anti-regime comments in the run-up to the Turkish election.

DeSantis is not exactly a libertarian himself, unless you define a libertarian as someone who bans books, forces women to give birth, threatens to take trans youth away from parents who approve of their getting gender-affirming care, prohibits teachers from mentioning gender identity or sexual orientation, bars teachers from talking about America’s history of racism, and wreaks vengeance even on Mickey Mouse for opposing his authoritarian policies.

Libertarianism has nothing to do with it. Authoritarianism has everything to do with it.

Twitter started to become a right-wing media hot spot when Elon lifted bans on thousands of accounts that had spread disinformation about the pandemic and the 2020 elections.

More recently, Tucker Carlson has said he would revive his show on Twitter after losing his Fox News slot (Musk has denied that Twitter has signed a deal with Carlson). It’s also been reported that The Daily Wire, a right-wing, anti-democracy media outlet, will make Twitter the home for all its podcasts.

Unquestionably, Twitter is benefiting from the dissatisfaction of the anti-democracy movement with Fox News. Elon can claim to be outside the mainstream media world of Rupert Murdoch.

But Elon wants to be a force on the right because he’s authoritarian, not a libertarian. He wants total control. That’s been his business MO since the start, and it’s now his political MO.

Not content to be the (or among the) richest on the planet, not satisfied with taking over one of the biggest media machines in the world, Elon wants to impose his will on America and the world directly. Like … the former guy.

Elon said Tuesday he isn’t formally backing any Republican candidate. But his eye is focused on Trump. Right now, Elon wants to send Trump the message that he — Elon — has the power to make life difficult for Trump if Trump so much as hints at making life difficult for Elon.

Elon knows that the best way to deal with a bully is to bully him — show unremitting force and ally with other opposing forces. Which is why Elon is helping DeSantis. And why, earlier this week, Elon retweeted a campaign kickoff video for Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Elon is only 51. He’s barred from becoming president (he was born in Pretoria, South Africa), but otherwise there’s no end to the power he can wield over America and the world during the next decades. And make no mistake: He plans to wield it.

Reprinted here with permission.

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Robert Reich
Robert Reich

"I’ve spent much of the last half century pushing for positive social change — from the inside: as Secretary of Labor, representing the U.S. before the Supreme Court, advising presidents. And from the outside: author of eighteen books and co-creator of two documentaries, chair of Common Cause, co-founder of The American Prospect, the Economic Policy Institute, and Inequality Media, and teacher of several generations of students. Also a cartoonist, not an artist."