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Voters Backed Donald Trump Because He ‘Just Got It,’ Says Investor Peter Thiel

Posted by hkarner - 11. November 2016

Date: 11-11-2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Highest-profile Silicon Valley supporter of president-elect gives his perspective on Donald Trump’s victory

ThielPeter Thiel,  says he doesn’t think a Trump administration will have that big an impact on the tech sector right away.

Peter Thiel was the highest-profile Silicon Valley executive to publicly promote Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, giving him an unusual perspective on the president elect. He spoke with The Wall Street Journal’s Rolfe Winkler after Mr. Trump’s victory. Edited excerpts:

WSJ: What specific policies do you think President Trump will pursue to kick-start growth?

Mr. Thiel: I think there will definitely be a push for less regulation of small businesses, some sort of fiscal stimulus. A lot of people voted for Trump because he just got it. He understood that things were very off track even if he didn’t have a precise road map of what to do. Other Republican candidates were almost delusionally Panglossian in their views of America. Hillary was also optimistic in a way that made her very out of touch. Sanders was the one other major candidate that really got the stagnation. I don’t agree with Sanders’s policy solutions, but I think that with a Trump vs. Sanders debate, we would have gotten more into the real issues.

WSJ: When did you meet Trump, and how often do you talk to him?

Mr. Thiel: I’ve only spoken with him a few times. What attracted me to him very much was this ability to articulate a set of positions that were quite far outside what I think is a very narrow policy consensus in D.C. And I think we need to look at solutions outside this narrow consensus if we’re ever going to move beyond the bubble economy, the era of stagnation we’ve been living through for maybe a quarter-century.

WSJ: Do you think we’re living in another bubble right now?

Mr. Thiel: Yeah, I think there’s a bond bubble, and an education bubble. Student debt is going up at a breakneck pace. There’s probably some sort of a health-care bubble in the U.S. where we’re spending twice as much of our GDP on health as other developed countries and getting outcomes that are not meaningfully different. There’s probably at this point an urban housing bubble whereas in the last decade we had a suburban housing bubble.

WSJ: What impact will a Trump administration have on the tech sector?

Mr. Thiel: I don’t think it will have that big an impact right away. It’s not been as heavily regulated as other parts of our economy.

WSJ: Do you want a job in the Trump administration?

Mr. Thiel: I’m quite happy being an investor venture capitalist here in Silicon Valley so I have no intention to take a full-time position in D.C.

WSJ: Do you still hope that one day you could be on the Supreme Court? Is that still a possible goal for you?

Mr. Thiel: No desire for that. Look, I haven’t practiced law in over 20 years. I would be very unqualified.

WSJ: Trump seems like a Rorschach test for people who hate the status quo but don’t know what Trump will do. Who’s the president we’ll get in January?

Mr. Thiel: I think we’ll get a president that will push back against excess regulation, a president that will be socially moderate on a lot of issues, and break with hyperpower globalist foreign policy. You may fight ISIS, but if that’s the only thing we do, defeating ISIS seems like a manageable goal. There might be a thaw in relations with Russia because they’re the most natural ally in helping us defeat ISIS.

WSJ: You’ve said Mr. Trump’s comments about groping women were old and unfortunate. But does his rhetoric concern you?

Mr. Thiel: There are certainty a lot of things that Trump said that I would not have said or done. I do think Trump is a fighter. There were a lot of points in this last year in the campaign where it seemed like it was too sensitive, like the 3 a.m. tweets with the beauty queen, and the judge that he was criticizing, or things like that. But in a way I could understand why Trump was doing this. Romney tried the opposite strategy where he was extremely nice to everybody and just got rolled.

WSJ: Does he have the kind of temperament that you want in the Oval Office?

Mr. Thiel: Well there is a big difference between campaigning and governing. And so certainly the hope is that Trump will be president of the entire country. That’s certainly what he said in his acceptance speech last night and I am hopeful that he will be inclusive as a president.

WSJ: Facebook is being criticized for spreading fake news this election cycle. As a board member, do you feel the company has a duty to control the information that is being disseminated on its site?

Mr. Thiel: I think Facebook is an extremely broad and inclusive platform for many different people to articulate views. And the company thinks really hard about at what point are there views that are too hateful that are beyond the pale that you should not allow, and there is always a difficult tension where on the one hand, Facebook strongly believes in free speech and the rights of its community to express itself.

WSJ: But there’s a difference between a platform that is broad and inclusive and one that spreads fake news. Does Facebook have to do something about that?

Mr. Thiel: I think Facebook is going to continue to work really hard to improve the quality of its platform in the years ahead. There is no sense of sitting still, and thinking that it’s perfect or anything like that. That is extremely far from the mind-set that people at Facebook have.

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