New Twitter owner Elon Musk backed Republicans ahead of Tuesday’s US midterm elections, saying they could use control of Congress to act as a balance against President Joe Biden’s Democrats.
Musk, the world’s richest person, has faced criticism from some groups who believe his absolutist stance on free speech will increase misinformation on Twitter. Some advertisers have pulled charges from the platform, and Musk blames critics concerned about content moderation.
His tweet to more than 110 million followers on Monday marked the first time the head of a major social media platform had explicitly endorsed an American political party.
Musk, also CEO of Tesla, has criticized the Biden administration and Democrats for their proposals to tax billionaires and give more tax breaks to union-made electric vehicles. Tesla does not have unions in its US factories.
The directed your Twitter message Calling “independent-minded voters,” he wrote, “Power sharing curbs the worst excesses of both parties, which is why I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the presidency is Democratic.”
Later, he added, “I’m open to the idea of voting Democrat again in the future,” and said he had historically been an independent who had voted Democrat.
Republicans are favorites to win a majority in the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s election, with nonpartisan forecasters calling the Senate a failure. They could use a majority in either chamber to stop Biden’s legislative agenda and launch potentially politically damaging investigations into the Biden administration and family.
Kyle Kondik of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia said Musk’s words were unlikely to influence the outcome of the election.
“It’s hard to expect any kind of celebrity ‘endorsement,’ as it basically is, to have much or no effect on voter behavior,” Kondik said.
The White House declined to comment on Musk’s tweet.
Musk, who frequently comments on US politics, has previously said he would vote Republican but backs moderates from both major political parties.
He has said he was leaning toward supporting Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for president in 2024 and that former President Donald Trump, who sources say is likely to launch another White House bid in the coming days, was too old to return. to hold the position of president.
When asked about Musk’s comments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “The president has spoken often about the importance of voting, and I will leave it at that so as not to get involved in any kind of election conversation.
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich described Musk’s comments as “very encouraging.”
New line for social media executives
Musk is not alone among social media executives in taking outspoken political stances.
For example, Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc, has donated heavily to progressive candidates and endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Like other executives, however, Sandberg stopped short of explicitly telling his followers how to vote and took pains to keep a distance between his personal leanings and his management of the company’s platforms.
Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has expressed a sense of alienation from both Republican and Democratic politics, while Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donated to two nonprofits that distributed grants to state and local governments to help them hold elections.
Musk bought Twitter last month. In one of its first acts, the company fired about half of its employees and marked a drop in ad revenue. But the company’s chief security and integrity officer said the platform’s content moderation capabilities remained.
In a statement to the Reuters news agency, Jessica Gonzalez, co-chief executive of the Free Press, an advocacy group on media problems in democracy, said Musk’s comment showed he “doesn’t come off as a balanced CEO.” that advertisers can trust. .
Last year, Tesla, which counts California as its biggest US market, moved its headquarters from the Pacific coast state to the more conservative state of Texas. Musk also moved his personal residence from California to Texas, where there is no state income tax.
In April, Musk said on Twitter that he believes that for the platform to “deserve public trust, must be politically neutralwhich effectively means upsetting the extreme right and the extreme left alike”.
Federal authorities are investigating Musk for his conduct in the Twitter acquisition, the company said in a court filing last month. The US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission have not commented on possible investigations.
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