The Trump administration has signed a lot of executive orders in his first few weeks in office. For the most part, these have been for policies that you could see happening from any other Republican president. The one that stands out is the travel ban which prevented anyone to enter the U.S. from seven majority Muslim countries. The President has come under heavy public scrutiny the second the news of the ban came out. Protests erupted across the world, countless public figures denounced the ban; among them were hundreds of tech companies.
Trump loves the idea of his fellow billionaire businessmen holding government positions, such as Rex Tillerson. Trump even made CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk, part of an advisory council. Musk was born in South Africa, but has citizenship in the United States, so it’s no surprise that he is against the ban and will make that clear to Trump. Musk and his friends in Silicon Valley seem to be like-minded in their opposition of the ban. Nearly 100 high-profile tech companies are supporting the court case against it.
It’s no surprise that tech companies are against the Trump administration. A group of tech leaders in late September began a fundraising effort which made $76,324 for the Clinton campaign, according to the New York Times. The United States leads the world by far in terms of innovation in the tech industry. An article in TechRepublic said that Trump’s proposed plans to dismantle U.S. trade agreements will have a significant impact on the tech industry. All major tech companies employ immigrant workers and sell products outside the U.S.. Trump has expressed desire to start a trade war with China. If this is done, Business Insider points out that such trade wars would likely cause other countries to invest in their own technology sectors to reduce reliance on American products and create competition for Silicon Valley overseas.
Besides Trump potentially threatening the tech industry’s business, Silicon Valley is home to some of the smartest individuals in the entire country, and Trump would be wise to at least hear out any advice they give. But generally, Trump only hears what he wants to hear, and any idea that goes against what he thinks is instantly labeled “fake news.” In July, 145 tech leaders wrote an open letter on Trump’s campaign. “His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy — and that provide[s] the foundation for innovation and growth,” the letter said.
Trump recently tweeted, “Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.” Trump has already antagonized the press as much as he can, and now the next group to attack him is the tech innovators of America. My prediction is that the tech leaders will have some success criticizing Trump where the mainstream media can’t, simply because they are business people, and Trump loves business people. The surprising part about that tweet is that the second part of it isn’t completely wrong. A poll by Politico shows that the travel ban has an approval rating of 55 percent, which is higher than Trump’s overall approval rating.
Trump has made a lot of ambitious promises, but the biggest challenge he has is de-polarizing America. It doesn’t help that he’s already alienated more than half the population. One crucial step will be finding someone who can reason with Trump. Hopefully, these tech leaders will be able to find a way to make Trump listen and compromise.
Elliot Weld can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org