Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, recently made waves by endorsing Donald Trump for President at the Republic National Convention (RNC). A professed libertarian, Thiel proclaimed himself a Republican in his much-anticipated speech.
Prior to Thiel’s address, many were baffled by the entrepreneur's decision to appear at the RNC. After all, PayPal is based in Silicon Valley, which is richly steeped in anti-Trump sentiment. Trump hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the high-tech industry, as he's taken some highly publicized, antagonistic positions. For instance, Trump's protectionist trade policies would impede the industry's ability to compete in the global market, and privacy advocates bristled at Trump's call for a boycott of Apple due to the company's refusal to divulge its encryption technology following the San Bernardino massacre. Perhaps most provocatively, Thiel is a gay man whose sexuality is decried by some of the GOP's socially conservative base.
Thiel’s speech preceded the appearances of Ivanka Trump and the presidential nominee himself. When Thiel proclaimed that he is proud to be gay and an American, the response from the crowd was mixed by largely supportive. Similarly, the crowd cheered Thiel's plea to put an end to "stupid wars," as well as his advice to ignore "fake culture wars" that distract attention from the country's economic decline.
In the end, Thiel solidified his reputation as an enigmatic free-thinker. As the first gay person to openly proclaim his sexuality at the RNC, his participation may be a harbinger of the Republican Party's continuing evolution on social issues.