What Should Liberals Do About Elon Musk?

Eric Medlin
6 min readApr 20, 2022

Use him.

Elon Musk in 2008. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Elon Musk dominated the news cycle again last week, and again the stories revolved around his favorite pastime. On April 10, five days after buying 9.2 percent stake in Twitter, the company announced that he would not be joining its board. Instead, Musk announced on Thursday that he wanted to buy the company for $43 billion. His announcement sent the stock price soaring and prompted nervous jitters from tech journalists, business experts, and Twitter’s board itself. Despite these fears, most observers believe the announcement was a bluff. As Jen Wieczner noted last week in New York

Some have questioned whether Musk actually wants to own Twitter; his offer lists the source of funds for the purchase, instead of his personal fortune, as “other.” While he should have actually secured the funding this time — if he has learned anything from past mistakes — most of his wealth is bound up in Tesla stock, not sitting around in cash.

The Twitter debacle underscores just how much attention Elon Musk can garner for himself at any one time. He is not just the richest person in the world at this moment, with a wealth greater than the GDP of Portugal. He is also a cultural institution, having hosted SNL, been parodied on The Simpsons, and been a part of dozens of news cycles and hundreds of story headlines over the past ten years. It seems as though no matter how influential or wealthy he becomes there is only room to go up, a concept that terrifies his opponents and energizes his many fans.

Musk is such a polarizing figure precisely because of the dual nature of his personality. At different times, he has taken actions that have enraged both liberals and conservatives in equal measure. Through Tesla, he has radically improved the stature and availability of electric cars throughout the country. Electric car sales since the first Tesla was introduced have gone from about 5,000 to more than 600,000 in 2021. The goal of the much-maligned Boring Company is to further that work in the field of public transportation. Musk has done more to turn the nation’s economy greener than almost any other single person.

There is a reason why his environmental work is not covered in most liberal publications’ blurb on Musk’s reputation. They skip over Tesla and Space-X to…

Eric Medlin

I’m a writer interested in the intersections of history, ideas, and politics. I publish every week. www.twitter.com/medlinwrites