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On Thursday night, billionaire venture capitalist, Facebook board member, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel will speak at the Republican National Convention. He will reportedly focus on vouching for Trump’s economic credentials and foreign policy vision.
Silicon Valley investors are wringing their hands about the prime-time role Thiel, who is respected in the industry for the conjoined virtues of investing success and seeming technological prescience, is playing in support of the most openly racist and divisive major party presidential candidate in modern U.S. political history.
But Thiel’s deeply conservative politics, which he has described as libertarian, are not new. He said in 2009 that “the 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics,” and that giving women the right to vote was bad for democracy. (Thiel later clarified his comments and said he didn’t want to disenfranchise anyone.) 
In 1999, Thiel co-authored a book that railed against political correctness and attacked the social safety net. He secretly funded a lawsuit against the website Gawker to settle a personal grudge, which pushed the company into bankruptcy. He has given, in total, millions of dollars to candidates like Ron Paul, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina. 
Of course, his politics have a bit of whimsy (sea colonies and infinite life extension), but these causes are highly marketable ― if absurd ― deviations from generally mainline conservative Republican beliefs. Thiel ardently supports gay marriage and favors free trade, but overlooking policy differences like those in order to support Donald Trump is now a Republican value in itself.
It is awkward for the technology industry that lionizes him to admit, but perhaps Thiel’s support for Trump is not a circle that needs to be squared. Maybe his support for Trump is just what Thiel says it is: based on sincerely held political beliefs.
Few people seem to spend time wondering just how fracking pioneer Harold Hamm could really be supporting Trump. The tech industry really wants to believe it is different from others, even when it comes to politically involved billionaires.
But Thiel shows an industry that is generally politely liberal in all the most centrist ways that people can make good technology and not share those politics. The worrying corollary is that there is nothing inherently politically liberal or progressive about technology itself.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims ― 1.6 billion members of an entire religion ― from entering the U.S.
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