Robert Reich: Citizen Musk – OpEd


On January 10, Elon Musk responded to a post about the recent influx of undocumented immigrants into America with a baldfaced lie. He claimed, on his platform X (formerly Twitter), that “illegals are not prevented from voting in federal elections.”

Rubbish. In fact, U.S. law prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections — under threats of jail time and deportation. Which explains why instances of illegal voting by noncitizens are extremely rare.

A few days earlier — echoing the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that Trump and Tucker Carlson have been pushing — Musk suggested that Biden and the Democrats are lax on immigration because “they are importing voters.”

Again, utter baloney. There’s no evidence of it. 

And on January 8, Musk wrote that voters in the United States “don’t need government issued ID to vote and you can mail in your ballot. This is insane.” 

More rubbish. Most states require voters to produce some form of identification at polls. States that do not at least require signatures, affidavits, or birth dates. In addition, federal law requires all voters to verify their identity when they register.

These lies mimic Trump’s lies, but Musk has 170 million followers on X. 

Musk runs X and can manipulate its algorithm to give him millions more and reduce the influence of anyone he dislikes or disagrees with. 

He can and does disregard X’s policy barring posts that mislead about voting eligibility laws, “including identification or citizenship requirements.”

Musk doesn’t have to answer to anyone. He owns X. He bought it in a hostile takeover for more than $44 billion. 

He is the richest person in the world. 

And he is utterly unaccountable. 

X’s elections integrity team won’t stop him, because he’s the CEO. 

X’s shareholders can’t stop him, because he owns the majority of shares. 

Consumers can’t stop him, because X has a monopoly on short-form communications due to “network effects” (with 556 million active monthly users, no other platform comes close). 

Advertisers can’t stop him, because with $232 billion of wealth, he can subsidize X forever. 

Lawmakers can’t stop him, because his wealth and ownership of X give him enough political power to prevent any incursion on his freedom to mislead Americans. 

Musk is living proof for why huge concentrations of wealth are dangerous to democracy. 

Trump may be the clearest present threat to American democracy, but Musk comes a close second.

This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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