Peter Thiel is speaking at the Republican National Convention because he doesn’t “think we can fix our problems unless we can talk about them frankly,” the billionaire venture capitalist and Facebook director said Thursday in a statement to Wired.
“Many people are uncertain in this election year but most Americans agree that our country is on the wrong track,” he said.
He did not provide Wired with any details related to what he plans to talk about at the convention.
Thiel, an advocate of quixotic causes like infinite life extension and governmentless sea colonies, has previously expressed pessimism about the future of the U.S.
He wrote in in 2009 that “the 1920s were the last decade in American history during which one could be genuinely optimistic about politics.” Since then, he said, “the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” (Thiel later updated his comments with a note saying that while he does not think any group should be disenfranchised, “I have little hope that voting will make things better.”)
Thiel is a self-described libertarian who will be a delegate for Donald Trump at the convention and is on the released list of speakers for the event. He will be the first openly gay speaker at the GOP convention in 16 years.
Thiel’s support of gay marriage and free trade, as well as his opposition to government power over individuals, puts him at odds with a candidate who is against same-sex marriage, wants to start a trade war and seemingly can’t stop talking about great torture is.
However, Maria Bustillos wrote in New York magazine that “Thiel’s stated preferences, which he says have evolved since his college days, seem closer to the quasi-monarchical longings of the ‘Dark Enlightenment’ set — a fear of the influence of ‘the masses,’ and a firm belief in the supremacy of the strong-willed individual.”
Thiel’s disdainful view of press freedom is right in line with Trump’s vows to “open up” libel laws. Thiel admitted in May to secretly funding a campaign of lawsuits against Gawker in an attempt to destroy the company for writing about his sexuality and reporting critically, at times caustically, on the tech industry.