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Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has been making moves to increase his political influence over the past year. He has met with world leaders, US senators, and Chinese officials, and is reportedly exploring advising Donald Trump if he wins the 2024 election. Musk’s alignment with right-wing causes and his purchase of Twitter (now X) have elevated his political status and rhetoric. A potential alliance with Trump could give Musk even more power on the global stage.

Musk’s businesses benefit from government contracts and subsidies, making a direct line to a future President Trump a potential conflict of interest. Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, raised concerns about the combination of personal business interests and exclusive access. Musk and his companies are also under investigation by multiple federal agencies, raising the possibility of improper influence if Trump were to intervene in these investigations. West emphasized the importance of maintaining fair play in capitalism.

Musk’s management of Twitter (X) reflects his political views, with a rightward shift in the platform’s culture. Musk reinstated Trump’s account, criticized Biden, and has promoted right-leaning political candidates and fringe conspiracy theories. Changes to X incentivize extreme behavior, leading to a normalization of hate and lies on the platform. The Center for Countering Digital Hate sued X over its handling of hateful content, highlighting the platform’s growing hostility and concerns about its impact on democracy.

In terms of Musk’s potential role in the Trump administration, his influence could be boundless and immune to scrutiny, raising concerns about conflicts of interest. Previous presidents have solicited advice from CEOs, but these roles typically involve transparency and formal structures. Musk’s close ties to Trump could potentially lead to favoritism or the perception of improper influence in relation to the multiple federal investigations into Musk and his companies.

While Musk’s social media platforms and political alignment may not necessarily influence Trump, his extreme rhetoric could give cover for controversial actions as president. Musk’s actions on X, such as reinstating suspended accounts and creating policies that benefit right-leaning users, have contributed to a more polarized online environment. The normalization of hate and lies on X could be damaging to democracies based on compromise, tolerance, science, and truth, according to Imran Ahmed of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

In conclusion, Elon Musk’s increasing political relevance and alignment with right-wing causes have raised concerns about conflicts of interest, improper influence, and the normalization of hate and extremism. His potential advisory role in a future Trump administration could give him even more power on the global stage, but it also raises questions about the integrity of capitalism and fair play. Musk’s actions on Twitter (X) demonstrate his political leanings and the potential impact on online discourse and democracy, highlighting the need for transparency and regulation in the digital space.

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