Flat White

Biden and big tech: a fatal mix?

31 January 2021

7:00 AM

31 January 2021

7:00 AM

For many, Joe Biden is a welcome return to normalcy following four years of Trumpian antics. However, a return to normalcy presents its own set of issues.

As a reaction to Donald Trump’s polemic presidency, an unprecedented number of voters turned out for Joe Biden, many of whom admitted doing so purely out of their disapproval of Trump.

According to a Monmouth University poll, 57% of Biden voters say they are happy that their choice won, while 73% are simply happy that Trump lost.

Many voters chose to vote for Biden not because of his policies or his worldview, but because he wasn’t Donald J. Trump. In doing so, they may have ushered in the very same establishment that Donald Trump campaigned against in 2016.

Throughout his candidacy, Joe Biden’s top donors were largely comprised of Big Tech corporations, including Alphabet (a multinational conglomerate which houses Google), Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

Source: S&P Global

Admittedly, there are several innocuous explanations for the support Biden received from Big Tech, such as the fact that California is a Democrat stronghold, and that Silicon Valley is renowned for being “extremely left-leaning” in the words of Mark Zuckerberg.

In addition to this, Donald Trump’s presidency was, in part, defined by his vocal opposition to Big Tech, with frequent Twitter tirades being launched against those in Silicon Valley for their alleged conservative bias.

When these facts are taken into consideration, it’s no surprise that Big Tech coalesced around Joe Biden instead of Donald Trump.

However, it must also be recognised that these donations didn’t simply arise as a gesture of goodwill.

For example, the Biden campaign received $2.6 million from Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

Schmidt was rumoured to have been considered for a leading role in Biden’s tech industry task force, as well as having allegedly suggesting personnel recommendations for Biden’s appointees to the Department of Defense.

Similarly, Biden’s transition team prior to entering the White House was stacked with executives from Amazon, Alphabet, Airbnb, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Then there’s Steve Ricchetti, who was recently named as Biden’s White House counsellor. Steve Ricchetti has had a lengthy career in lobbying for the private sector, with high-profile clients such as AT&T and the American Banking Association, who he served under his company Ricchetti, Inc., which he founded with his brother Jeff Ricchetti.

While Steve Ricchetti deregistered as a lobbyist in 2008 when he served under President Obama, his brother still remains a lobbyist-at-large, having secured Amazon as one of his clients just 10 days after Biden was announced to be the winner of the Presidential Election on November 3rd, 2020.

Jeff Ricchetti his most successful year on record in 2020, bringing in over $635,000 in lobbying fees. Curiously, he was also just hired by Amazon shortly after Biden won the Presidency.

Evidently, lobbyists and multinational corporations seem all too willing to throw their support behind Joe Biden, and it stands to reason that they expect something in return.

Whether that be favourable legislative decisions, or for Biden to turn the other cheek to their monopolistic behaviours, it is too early in Biden’s tenure to tell precisely how Big Tech’s infiltration of the White House will benefit them.

All that is clear is that we have certainly seen one side of a potentially reciprocal relationship take steps to assist the Biden campaign, and Biden’s response will determine whether he is the necessary counterpoint to Donald Trump’s tumultuous Presidency or simply a disappointing trojan horse for corporate interests.

You can find more of Louis’s work at Australians.News and The Green Fund.

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