American politics, I think it’s perfectly safe to say, has become a bit of a barnyard. Even gubernatorial and Senate elections have started to feature a cast of players that feels more out of one of Parks and Recreation’s town hall scenes. The weirdos who used to be speaking mostly in a Best Western conference room are now primary winners, plastered all over TV ads, cradling assault rifles or showing scenes of children at play that they warn are in the crosshairs of some sort of great woke cabal that wants to turn them into coffee shop baristas.

Youtube

“That's Peter Thiel. He owns all your organs!"

The change on both sides isn’t particularly surprising, when the quote unquote establishment politicians have been happy to move at the glacial pace of Good Old Fashioned Bureaucracy, not realizing that the younger generations didn’t have a shred of the goodwill they’d built up with boomers who were able to buy a house for 3 shiny gold coins back in the day. Meanwhile, millennials spent most of their time getting their head pissed on and told it was avocado toast. Moderates and centrists moved so carefully and slowly that the progress became invisible to the naked eye, and pretty soon, was confused for a vacuum.

So, older legislators were shocked to see through their weirdly small reading glasses that a group of young people who were very much of the ask forgiveness vs. seek permission belief system sought out a group that had, you know, something to look forward to. When you’re in the generation of instant gratification, the idea of spending 20 years kissing rings and slapping backs in order to get one heavily compromised piece of signature legislation passed doesn’t exactly stir the loins.

Boredom, impatience, and the dark thrill of ruining Thanksgiving dinner sent young people scattering across the internet to YouTube channels, image boards, and, for some reason, bodybuilding forums, looking for somebody with loud ideas and unblinking eyes that had something to look forward to. Algorithms and growing frustration just widened the gap, until everybody online seemed to be either a manifested Joseph McCarthy night terror or somebody who breaks into ugly joyful sobbing every time they see an American flag being raised.

When it comes to building a team of people who are results-obsessed who take any hurdle or valid criticism as a direct violent attack on their IQ, start-up CEOs would all be day one starters. It’s a career favored by people so narcissistic that I think most of them non-ironically brand themselves as one of society’s greatest thinkers. Every start-up CEO thinks they would be Plato’s best friend. So it’s no surprise that, regardless of how tempered their political views start as, it only takes one federal ruling that says they can’t require employees to piss in bottles before they consider the whole government an enemy of Progress.

YouTube

“Tech is the future! Except for voting machines, which I inherently distrust!”

It’s a common criticism that these type of moguls consider themselves above the law, and I think they’d be the last to argue it, at least in private, chatting with peers as they all get stem cells and new blood blasted into their spine. They tend to drift into libertarianism, but then quickly realize that world governments rarely decide to just f**k off, so they look to the CEO’s tool against opposition: the hostile takeover.

Of course, they would never seek to hold office of any level themselves: to do so would be to become part of the machine, they risk a blow to their ego in defeat, and, most of all, I think that they genuinely consider public office to be beneath them. Besides, in a government where change can easily be bought via wire transfers from a yacht, why would they ever want to sit through Senate roll call or be required to speak with constituents? When you live in a de facto oligarchy, why would you want to transition to the other end of the strings?

But even for those that become backroom kingmakers, they’re still stuck paying off those reticent lily-livered career politicians that are obsessed with the idea of decorum and the Grand Old Traditon of Democracy. So what are they to do? They don’t want to deal with politicians, but they don’t want to hold office themselves. So they look to create little political homunculi that they can then use that same sway to place into positions of power. If money wins elections, then why wait for someone to emerge who lines up closely with your views when you can just create one?

Youtube

“When I was libertarian I thought this was a bad idea. Now I have been told it's a good one.”

This is how we get candidates like Arizona’s Blake Masters. A ball of wayward clay that stumbles into a seminar and leaves starry-eyed, who can be brought into the fold and molded into a loyal foot soldier. They think they’ve found a mentor while that mentor knows they’ve found a supplicant. Masters is now running for Senate as basically a vessel for Peter Thiel, who found him in one of his classes at Stanford, a favored hunting ground of Thiel’s for young impressionable ideologues-in-waiting. Now, Masters’ incubation period is over, and Thiel has released him with orders to hold office.

Masters, of course, will insist that he is his own man, and I’m sure he thinks he is. All you need to do is delve into his past and his public image to quickly realize how few of his beliefs are original. His political beliefs are wildly wishy-washy over time, going from pro-choice to pro-life, from advocating for open borders to saying Biden should be in jail for his border strategy. I’m sure he, would be quick to point to this as an example of an inquisitive mind and a willingness to explore ideas without prejudice, instead of what it pretty clearly indicates, which is confusion and a lack of personal certainty that others are happy to insert for him.

It’s a pretty common refrain that when you want to see a candidate’s real interests, don’t look at their speeches, look at the money behind them. This used to lead to a spiderweb of super PAC donations and shadowy think tanks, but Masters’ looks more like a leash. If he wins, expect more political sock puppets to become the preferred pet of billionaires that want input on government.

Top Image: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

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