Opinion

Peter Thiel's brilliant bet

It's time to give Peter Thiel a little credit

Peter Thiel is smarter than you.

That should not be a very controversial statement. Thiel is, after all, one of the most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. And yet, strangely, few seem open to considering that Thiel's dabbling in politics is smart — that he might actually know best about shoveling big resources, attention, and credibility into a Donald Trump campaign that many of his fellow super-brains despised.

Some say Thiel backed Trump because he's a greedhead, others because he's a fascist. And a few insist that just because he's intelligent doesn't mean he's smart about politics or public policy. But all these different views avoid the easy answer: Thiel was just buying low, earning a stake in politics that will probably pay off bigly.

And indeed, it's already paying off. Trump won. Thiel is reaping the rewards. He might even be tapped to lead Trump's transition efforts.

Naturally, there are reasons to object to Thiel's speculative investment. Trump may be so horrible and risky a bet as a president, with such potentially adverse consequences, that Thiel's investment is morally unsound. But nobody really believes that Thiel's support for Trump has given our president-elect any practical advantages. Thiel probably did not coax many libertarians or Democrats into voting Trump. He wasn't helpful at turning out Trump's base. As for the money, in politics, Thiel's $1.25 million investment was a token sum. So the main argument against Thiel's support for Trump is one that puts seeming on a higher ethical plane than being. Who cares what Thiel "really" thinks or wants? Nothing that involves performing support for Trump, his critics say, could possibly justify that performance.

It is not hard to detect some jealous rage here. Deep down, what people do not like is that Thiel has the luxury of doing whatever he wants regardless of what the haters say. And what they fear as well as loathe is that Thiel has the luxury of building a specific future that they don't. For this reason, they don't want him to be a good guy. It would mean looking up to someone who's free in a way they sense they can never be. So Thiel was pilloried.

He obviously doesn't care what you think, though. Thanks to his brilliant bet on Trump, Thiel has positioned himself well to play a guiding role in a new American politics. Chances are, you haven't. Just because that truth hurts doesn't mean Thiel's influence will hurt too. Given what today's GOP has become, it's all but certain to help.

More From...

Picture of James PoulosJames Poulos
Read All
If Trump goes down, everyone wins
President Trump.
Opinion

If Trump goes down, everyone wins

China's digital nightmare
Xi Jinping.
Analysis

China's digital nightmare

America's failure in Afghanistan is going to be worse than Vietnam
U.S. troops outside their base in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.
Opinion

America's failure in Afghanistan is going to be worse than Vietnam

The hard truths of Mosul's 'liberation'
An Iraqi Federal police officer walks among the ruins in Mosul.
Opinion

The hard truths of Mosul's 'liberation'

Recommended

Garland files motion to unseal Trump search warrant
Merrick Garland.
heating up

Garland files motion to unseal Trump search warrant

A look at Biden's political messaging for August
Joe Biden.
the blueprint

A look at Biden's political messaging for August

Trump took the Fifth over 440 times: Report
Donald Trump.
that's a lot of times

Trump took the Fifth over 440 times: Report

Judge rules Walgreens contributed to San Francisco opioid crisis
A Walgreens store in San Francisco
Speed Reads

Judge rules Walgreens contributed to San Francisco opioid crisis

Most Popular

The Daily Show cleverly illustrates Fox News double standard on FBI raids
Trevor Noah
Last Night on Late Night

The Daily Show cleverly illustrates Fox News double standard on FBI raids

The car crash crisis
A car accident.
Briefing

The car crash crisis

Trump increased his legal jeopardy with law he signed in 2018
Trump signs legsilation
Petard-hosting

Trump increased his legal jeopardy with law he signed in 2018