Once again, Silicon Valley’s oligarchs have been summoned to Donald Trump’s golden table, this time to assist the Jared Kushner-led American Technology Council in “modernizing” the government, a goal which is at once vague and arguably antithetical to every promise the president ran on.
The guest list includes the top brass of Facebook, IBM, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. The closest any of these companies have come to backing out is Facebook, which has merely not replied to its invitation yet, according to Bloomberg. Notably, all of these companies have at some point condemned Trump’s actions or threatened not to collaborate with his administration. Perhaps they’re due for a reminder.
Last week, a litany of businesses came out against Trump’s baffling withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, including Microsoft, IBM, Google, Facebook, and Apple. Back in April, a prosaic amicus brief opposing Trump’s second attempt to ban people from several majority-Muslim countries from entering the US was endorsed by 162 tech companies. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook signed that one too. And two months before that, the initial Muslim ban prompted its own amicus brief, which had backing from Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and 92 other companies in the tech sector.
In fact, stretching back to July of last year, when the possibility of a Trump administration still felt utterly improbable, Silicon Valley’s biggest companies had already co-authored an open letter calling the Republican candidate “a disaster for innovation [whose] vision stands against the open exchange of ideas.” Facebook, Google, and Apple got in on that one early, and, like every bit of public posturing since, proceeded to do nothing about their supposed disgust and outrage. Notably, none of these consumer-facing letters or filings have contained any actionable commitments from these companies—just tepid disapproval of this country’s most unpopular president of all time.
But the nauseating repetition of hideous White House policy proposal followed by impotent posturing from the Valley is worse than useless, it’s outright hypocritical. The contents of an FEC filing revealed Microsoft, Amazon, and Google chipped in over $800,000 toward Trump’s electoral college victory party. And of course, Facebook’s own role in swaying the election continues to be deliberated in the court of public opinion—and in the minds of the highly-qualified analysts the company has hired to draft its white papers.
While the appearance of opposition benefits these companies, so does working alongside the present administration, and this new counsel represents a potential boon: According to Bloomberg, the concerns of the newly-minted counsel will include “tech sales to government agencies.” Asked to explain his attendance at the very first tech summit held at Trump Tower in December, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees last year, “personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be.”