If you were writing the final, touching episode of a TV drama called The Obama Years, your mood music might be the New York Times column on Dec. 5, 2016, by Andrew Ross Sorkin, headlined “Want to Bring Back Jobs, Mr. President-Elect? Call Elon Musk.”
An ever-expanding executive branch working collaboratively with enlightened, future-oriented, high-IQ moguls to rise above the ugly dog-eats-dog competition of capitalism was the dream of Obamanomics. Elon Musk, “the real-life Tony Stark,” was a walking totem of Obamanomics.
“Mr. Musk, 45, is arguably the one person in the nation more responsible than anyone else for generating a vision for the re-emergence of manufacturing in the United States en masse,” wrote Sorkin. “And he is revered among most of his peers here in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.”
Musk was, as Sorkin wrote in the sunset hours of the Obama years, “a prime example of everything we want our business leaders to be.”
Musk was a champion of business-government collaboration, which most of the time meant corporate welfare. He was a face of the Obama-era Export-Import Bank, appearing onstage at the agency’s annual conference, grateful for the taxpayer-backed loan guarantees that boosted his various companies.
The Obama administration larded on subsidies for Musk’s solar companies and for Tesla. They handed out contracts to his rocket company, SpaceX, and Obama toured the plant. Musk was the pro-business, pro-government Democrat who was going to win the future. Heck, he was even an immigrant!
A few years later, Musk is now a Republican or something.
Welcome to the party, @ElonMusk! https://t.co/i4z5YPdFos— GOP (@GOP) May 18, 2022
That means that everyone who dislikes crony capitalism and corporate welfare needs to keep an even closer eye on Republican lawmakers and governors — because we know what comes next. Someone’s going to propose a law or offer a handout to benefit Musk in some way. Probably various GOP officials will do so.
Will Texas, which has a long history of GOP governors bribing big companies, give special tax breaks or handouts to some Musk company? Who in Congress will pass some bill to give Musk special benefits? What will Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis do?
If Musk is really now dedicated to free speech and pluralism, he should be a Republican because the Democrats’ current strategy is to brand everything they dislike as “disinformation” that doesn’t deserve First Amendment protection. Also, the GOP could stand to be a bit more dedicated to free expression. If Musk is really concerned about falling birthrates, he should become a Republican, because on the Left, they’ve increasingly decided that it's racist to care about that.
But if Musk is coming looking to an ascendant GOP for special favors, well — he’ll probably get them, which will be bad for the Republican soul.