- An Elizabeth Warren presidency threatens to be far more disruptive to the economy than a Biden administration, or a second Trump term.
- She would squeeze Big Tech the most, moving to break up Silicon Valley companies and pass strict data protections for consumers.
- So why are these companies’ employees giving Warren the lion’s share of her campaign contributions?
Senator Elizabeth Warren continues to hold her consistent place as a top three contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Of the entire field, she’s also campaigned the most aggressively against Silicon Valley.
Bernie Sanders, her senate colleague and close competitor for the nomination, would also be tough on Big Tech. But he’s been following her lead in the battle over their party’s progressive populist wing.
It was Warren who introduced the idea of breaking up tech monopolies under U.S. antitrust laws in March. (Here’s why Warren’s antitrust ambitions don’t stack up to the realities of the tech industry.) It took Sanders months to come around to her position.
A week after Warren’s antitrust proposal, Sanders had yet to publicly comment on it. By June, he hedged, “we should definitely take a look at” breaking up Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet. Finally in July, as Warren closed in on his poll numbers, that changed to an “absolutely” for Sanders.
Elizabeth Warren’s War on Big Tech
In October, Elizabeth Warren used Mark Zuckerberg’s own platform, Instagram, to post an ad with leaked audio footage of the Facebook CEO saying he’d “go to the mat” and fight a Warren administration. The ad boasted that the “rich and powerful” are afraid of Warren.
Earlier this year, a U..S election report by ING Group assessed a populist Democrat like Warren, Sanders, or Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a viable path to the White House if all economic indicators flash red in 2020.
The report also predicts such a scenario would result in a “Big squeeze on Big Tech.” The squeeze would include antitrust action, higher taxes, and consumer data protections:
A populist Democrat could seek to break up tech monopolies and increase the real tax burden on these firms. There would be major legislation regarding data privacy, which could allow consumers to ‘lease’ their data, creating a new industry.
But her war on Big Tech may not get Elizabeth Warren far with typical primary voters. Recode focus group research published at the end of last month found voters are far more concerned with other matters, like their debts and health coverage.
Still, the tough-on-Silicon Valley rhetoric is scoring Warren massive fundraising points with none other than Silicon Valley employees themselves.
Silicon Valley Wants to Be Disrupted
Big Tech executives like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai worry about the consequences of increased federal regulation. But the rank and file are pouring out donations to Elizabeth Warren’s campaign.
So far in the 2020 race, Alphabet Inc, Amazon.com, Microsoft Corp, and Apple Inc are among Warren’s top six contributors. Apparently the engineers of the tech ever widening and deepening tech revolution like their politics like they like their tech: disrupted.
That could be why Silicon Valley workers support Elizabeth Warren even though she would disrupt their own industry. They love disrupting their own industry.
Of the Big Five personality traits, software engineers tend to rank high in trait “Openness,” according to Career Explorer.
That makes them creative and open to change, which is good for the kind of work they do. It’s also a trait correlated with support for more liberal economic policies, like those espoused by Elizabeth Warren.
In October, a former Google product director said:
To find her right on everything else and then disqualifying when it’s about my industry? Maybe that’s a little bit too precious.
Elizabeth Warren is currently polling at 18% in the Democratic primary.