When the 2020 election officially came to a close, the announcement that Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States was not only a victory for the Democratic Party, but for Big Tech Monopolies as well.
Big Tech–like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google among others–can breathe a sigh of relief now that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be heading to the White House. This shows that even though congressional Democrats have pushed against Silicon Valley’s monopolistic power, the likelihood that the party will push against these practices is fairly low. To understand why Big Tech will still be as powerful as ever under a Biden-Harris administration, it is necessary to look at the relationship between the two groups.
Joe Biden And His Transition Team
Joe Biden may seem as though he would be tough on Big Tech–especially Facebook as evidenced in an interview with the New York Times back in January in which Biden stated that he was “not a big fan of Zuckerberg…he is a real problem.” Initially, this was something celebrated by the left, as it suggested there was a high possibility that a Biden administration would be tough on Big Tech. However, these hopes have been dashed by an even cursory look at Biden’s transition team. Tom Sullivan, currently head Amazon’s international policy team, is a runner-up for Secretary of State, while Mark Schwartz, also from Amazon, is slotted to head the Office of Management and Budget. And that’s not the end. The US Treasury will get Linkedin’s Nicole Issac as well as Will Fields from Sidewalk Labs, and the list goes on. For example, another report shows that the joint chair for Biden’s transition team will be Jeff Zients, a former Facebook board member and two others from Facebook, a former director as well as a former company lobbyist, have been named as central to Biden’s transition team.
Once it was announced that Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate, Forbes magazine released an article titled “Kamala Harris: the First Candidate of Silicon Valley” that praises how her rise to power came laterally with Silicon Valley’s ascent to become the world’s most influential business center. During her failed 2020 presidential run for the Democratic nomination, some of her strongest donors included SaleForce’s Marc Benioff, Amazon’s general counsel David Zapolsky, Microsoft president Brad Smith, and Oracle NetSuite executive Evan Goldberg (https://therevolvingdoorproject.org/campaign/kamala-harris/). Prior to that, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and ex-Apple executive Jony Ive helped fundraise Harris’ 2014 reelection bid for California’s attorney general. Silicon Valley’s support for Harris’s leadership has dated back to 2010 when she spoke with David Drummond at Google, claiming that “we have to let these businesses grow,” when discussing the current state of California and how it was on the verge of bankruptcy. She went on to say that she planned on having tech giants included in her attorney general’s office in an advisory role. Kamala Harris’s record with Big Tech shows she is not interested in holding them accountable. For example, in 2012 she failed to stop Facebook from acquiring Instagram and in 2014 she failed to stop Facebook’s acquisition of Whatsapp. And alas, her friendship with Facebook doesn’t stop here–a recent article by the HuffPost reveals various emails with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg using Harris in a promotional video. These interactions ultimately lead to Sandberg maxing out her allowed contributions to Harris’s 2016 Senate campaign. The majority of her time as California AG, Harris was aware that Big Tech monopolies were becoming the most powerful and profitable institutions in her state, however, she chose not to pursue them, preferring instead campaign donations and lucrative Big Tech support.
Joe Biden has built his long career in government on the back of large corporations and obviously plans to pack his transition team with those who have worked closely with the monopolies in Silicon Valley. Moreover, the Big Tech industry has had nothing but support from California Attorney General Harris during its recent rise and it is clear that the vice president-elect will do nothing to disturb Big Tech. Harris has even publicly stated that she is against breaking up monopolies like Facebook and Google. Ultimately, this is the fate leftists chose when they decided to back Biden as the Democratic candidate with the hopes of pushing his policies left. Although, this begs the question of how leftists might push Biden-Harris further left despite the fact that their whole careers have been built on tight-knit relations with corporations and tech giants. In a stunning, but not unexpectable move of betrayal, it now seems obvious that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will be frozen out of Biden’s cabinet despite the lip service paid to these politicians in the run-up to the election. This is problematic for a number of reasons beyond broken promises. For example, what prevents the same tech giants Biden-Harris seem so cozy with from censoring highly possible future leftist criticism of Biden-Harris? One of the most chilling things to come to light in recent months was the New York Post’s article that revealed that the Biden family’s business dealings were ultimately blocked by Twitter and suppressed by Facebook. This is an example of tech censorship that is common in other highly repressive countries. Again unsurprisingly, but nonetheless chillingly, Democrats applauded Twitter for silencing the story, showing that the incoming administration is in favor of censorship and has the power to make sure that critics of the Democrats can be effectively silenced Socialists, among many other leftists, must realize that the Democratic Party will continue its history of blatantly disregarding the people’s interests–only those who fund the party’s ideals and can remain significant. Time and again the Democratic Party talks a big game, but then makes an about-face supporting what they claim to oppose. This has happened once again and is brutally reflected in President-elect Biden’s cabinet makeup. Why socialists, populists, and others of the ‘radical left,’ continue to support the Democratic Party despite its history of betrayal is not a paradox. The institutionalized two-party system allows no alternative and so partnering with the lesser of two evils is what has been presented to us. A truly socialist and populist politics must begin the harrowing task of not only breaking with the Democratic Party, but breaking with elitism in the US.