This is just too perfect: A tech billionaire who’s publicly said that giving women the vote was bad for democracy is giving $1.25 million to Donald Trump, who would likely win the U.S. election if women didn’t have the right to vote.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Paypal and Palantir co-founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel was giving Trump the big donation, confirming his support of the candidate just as his campaign faces a meltdown over sexual assault allegations.
Most tech billionaires have either denounced Donald Trump or stayed mum on the election. A self-proclaimed libertarian worth about $2.7 billion, Thiel’s gone another way. He spoke up for Trump at the Republican National Convention this summer. (He also recently funded the lawsuit that helped bankrupt Gawker, which he harbored a grudge against after the site wrote about his sexual orientation.) There’s even a rumor that Trump promised him a Supreme Court seat.
It’s an interesting time to double down on support for Trump, who’s facing a barrage of accusations of sexual assault after The Washington Post published a 2005 video of him bragging he could get away with sexually assaulting women because he’s a celebrity.
Women are running fast from the candidate and likely will be a major factor behind his defeat, as Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com noted last week.
Silver’s analysis prompted a lot of thoughtful reflection on Twitter inspired the hashtag #repealthe19th, as in get rid of the 19th Amendment ― the one that gives women the right to vote.
It’s an amendment that’s given Thiel some agita over the years. Back in 2009, on Cato Unbound, a blog affiliated with a libertarian think tank, Thiel wrote that giving the vote to women really messed up our country:
Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.
He later clarified his blog post and explained that he does not want to take away women’s right to vote, per se, but that he just despaired of voting as a practice to improve things in the country. Here’s how he put it:
It would be absurd to suggest that women’s votes will be taken away or that this would solve the political problems that vex us. While I don’t think any class of people should be disenfranchised, I have little hope that voting will make things better.
Thiel has plenty of other unconventional views: He does not believe death is inevitable, thinks humans would do well to colonize outer space or the sea (via something he calls sea-steading) and once professed the notion that multiculturalism dumbs down American institutions.
I guess one test of Thiel’s theory about women will happen on Nov. 8.