Billionaire technology investor Peter Thiel, a lightning rod for criticism in Silicon Valley for his support of Donald Trump, predicted that the movement the Republican presidential nominee has created would carry on even if he loses his bid for the White House on Nov. 8.
“No matter what happens in this election, what Trump represents isn’t crazy, and it’s not going away,” Thiel said in a speech to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington.
Thiel, who announced earlier this month he was donating $1.25 million to help Trump get elected, said the New York businessman was laying the groundwork for “a new Republican Party” that will go “beyond the dogmas of Reaganism.”
Thiel attacked Washington in his remarks, saying its elite insiders were out of touch with ordinary Americans and that Trump was shaking up a system in need of change.
“The truth is, no matter how crazy this election seems, it is less crazy than the condition of our country,” said Thiel.
While it is impossible to predict what will happen to Trump and his followers after the election, Thiel is not alone in his view.
“This will certainly continue after Nov. 8, whether Donald Trump is leading the movement or not,” Republican strategist Alice Stewart said on Monday, arguing that the movement surrounding Trump will have lasting effects on the Republican Party.
“Without a doubt, Trump has tapped into an electorate that has felt like their voices have not been heard in quite some time,” she said, adding that the Republican Party old guard would have to work with followers of Trump’s newer brand of conservatism, regardless of the outcome of the election, if the party is to survive.
Thiel, who was born in Germany and came to the United States as a child, is best known as a co-founder of online payment service PayPal Holdings Inc and an early backer of online social network Facebook Inc.
His support for the real estate developer and reality TV star has made him a target for scorn in liberal-leaning tech circles, especially after his full-throated endorsement of Trump at the Republican National Convention in July.
The only major-name Trump backer in Silicon Valley, Thiel has attracted criticism and some have called for Thiel’s removal from Facebook’s board. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has insisted on Thiel staying, citing the importance of diversity of opinion at the company.
Trump’s attacks on cross-border trade agreements and immigration run counter to the views of most in the U.S. tech industry, which sells its products worldwide and has leaned heavily on talented programmers coming to the United States from overseas.
Thiel accused the media of taking too literally many of Trump’s more controversial proposals, including imposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
He also said the comments Trump made about groping and kissing women in a 2005 video that was made public earlier this month were “clearly offensive and inappropriate.”
But Thiel said he and other Trump supporters were voting on policy, not personality. He added that both Trump and White House rival Democrat Hillary Clinton were “imperfect people, to say the least.”
Louder voices, he said, have sent a message that they do not intend to tolerate the views of one half of the country.
“This intolerance has taken on some bizarre forms. The Advocate, a magazine which once praised me as a “gay innovator,” even published an article saying that as of now I am, and I quote, “not a gay man,” because I don’t agree with their politics. The lie behind the buzzword of “diversity” could not be made more clear: if you don’t conform, then you don’t count as “diverse,” no matter what your personal background.”
The Democratic party, he added, was more hawkish today than at any time since it began the war in Vietnam. Harking back to the no-fly-zone that Bill Clinton enforced over Iraq before Bush’s failed war, now Hillary Clinton has called for a no-fly zone over Syria, he said.
“Incredibly, that would be a mistake even more reckless than invading Iraq. Since most of the planes flying over Syria today are Russian planes, Clinton’s proposed course of action would do worse than involve us in a messy civil war: it would risk a direct nuclear conflict,” Thiel said.
“What explains this eagerness to escalate a dangerous situation? How can Hillary Clinton be so wildly overoptimistic about the outcome of war? I would suggest that it comes from a lot of practice. For a long time, our elites have been in the habit of denying difficult realities.”