Silicon Valley Investor Spending $2 Million to Persuade Elon Musk to Dump Trump
A Silicon Valley venture capitalist said he is willing to spend millions to convince Elon Musk to dump Donald Trump over his "disastrous" climate change policies, and he is pressuring the Tesla/SpaceX CEO to withdraw from the president's business councils.
Doug Derwin's $2 million campaign includes billboards, TV ads and full-page ads in newspapers. On Monday, he launched ElonDumpTrump.com, a website that features videos of Tesla owners upset over Musk's ties to Trump.
"Musk's support for Trump, and his failure to speak out against Trump's policies, are inconsistent with Tesla's values," a campaign petition states.
Over the past month, Derwin has deployed mobile billboards around the offices of Elon Musk's various companies. Photo credit: Doug Derwin
Musk is one of the most admired leaders in tech and is very outspoken on the dangers of climate change. But in December, Musk caught some flak when he joined the Strategic and Policy Forum, an advisory board for the president on business issues.
Bloomberg reported that Derwin decided take action after learning that Musk was meeting with the new president, who is a climate change denier and is rolling back critical environmental regulations. Derwin, who was actually in the process of purchasing a Tesla, decided to cancel his order and donated the $150,000 for the cost of the car to the American Civil Liberties Union.
"Trump was using Elon to legitimize himself," Derwin told Bloomberg. "It says a lot to low information voters that Trump can't possibly be that bad because here is Elon Musk hanging on his every word. That's why I canceled the order. A principled opposition is important here."
Derwin told the Guardian he is particularly incensed by the president's onslaught of environmental regulation rollbacks.
"I want Musk to speak up against Donald Trump's climate change policies," he added. "His failure to do so sends the message that it's not really a big deal and not worth his time."
Photo credit: Doug Derwin
Derwin plans to set up information booths at college campuses to persuade young engineers to avoid working at Musk's companies. He also said he will pay people who've made deposits for the upcoming Tesla Model 3 to cancel their orders.
Derwin said he will stop the campaign and donate one million dollars to a charity of Musk's choice if he severs ties with the administration and speaks out against the president.
In previous statements, Musk said he is committed to pushing Trump on issues like immigration and climate change but was also uncomfortable about the criticism he has received for joining the committees.
"Really don't want to get in politics. I just want to help invent and develop technologies that improve lives. Feels so bizarre," Musk tweeted in February.
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Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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