For all intents and purposes, US President Joe Biden and Tesla CEO Elon Musk should agree on a number of things. Both men have worked hard to fight climate change, and both openly support electric vehicles. Yet for the longest time now, a feud seems to have developed between Biden and Musk.
It’s not a stretch to state that a lot of the feud is due to Biden — and it will likely be a gross miscalculation on the President’s part.
It’s easy to shoehorn Elon Musk as a villain. The man’s a billionaire; he’s stated that he is voting against Democrats in the coming elections; he has even traded sarcastic barbs with popular left-leaning politicians over the past months. But what is easily forgotten these days is that Musk has, for the longest time, been a supporter of Democrats, including Biden himself.
Musk said as much recently on Twitter when he noted that he voted for both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in the last two presidential elections. Musk was also quite close to the Obama administration. So what really encouraged Musk to switch to the right, even if Biden’s administration has characterized itself as one that is focused on climate issues and sustainability?
Some would note that the Musk and Biden feud started with the US President’s overt support for unions, but things actually started before that. As early as February 2021, Elon Musk hinted at some of his disagreements with the Biden administration. Musk was lobbying for a carbon tax then, but the CEO noted that the Biden team believed that such an initiative “seems too politically difficult.”
Musk has noted recently that his shift to the right is in no small part due to Biden’s administration doing “everything it can to sideline and ignore Tesla.” Musk critics would easily disregard these statements as entitled whining from the CEO (cue the aged Elon Musk Simpson’s “weird nerds” meme), but he does have a point. Since rejecting Musk’s suggestion for a carbon tax, the Biden administration has barely acknowledged Tesla, focusing instead on more traditional automakers that are, for the most part, doing far less for sustainability than Tesla.
This happened recently following what appeared to be Biden’s latest zinger against Musk, where he wished the CEO “lots of luck on his trip to the Moon” when asked about Musk’s concerns about the US economy. Biden proceeded to promote Ford’s efforts to hire 6,000 workers while conveniently denying that Tesla had nearly hired 50,000 people worldwide in the last two years.
Overall, the Biden and Musk feud is downright strange. From an outsider’s perspective, it really doesn’t make sense. Every person who has followed Tesla and SpaceX over the years would know that Musk’s companies are practically a perfect match for politicians on the left. Yet Biden, for some strange reason, opted to antagonize Musk instead. Biden’s not alone either, as other high-profile Democrats have also joined in on the anti-Musk bandwagon — to varying degrees of aggressiveness.
Such a strategy, however, may cost Biden in the upcoming elections. Musk is a prolific CEO, after all, and his social media presence — even if it is likely padded by bots considering Twitter’s issues with fake and spam accounts — is notable. By constantly beating on Musk while ignoring Tesla and SpaceX, Biden and his administration may end up alienating a significant part of the left’s voter base. The upcoming elections would likely show if this would be the case or not.