Following the signing of a nationally unpopular bill banning abortion after six weeks’ pregnancy, Texas Governor Greg Abbott was heard to say that Elon Musk “likes the social policies” of Texas. Musk was quick to rebuff the governor in a Tweet, saying that he would “prefer to stay out of politics.”
Musk may not be as completely apolitical as he claims, as Tesla recently joined a lobby group that promotes the adoption of electric vehicles in the United States. It has also lobbied the Australian government to alter a regulation that would have banned Tesla Semis from city streets.
He may simply prefer not to let Abbott claim him as a supporter on the new, highly restrictive abortion law, even by implication. If any possible dispute between Abbott and Musk arises, the Tweet seems to imply that Musk will default to opposing any policy that stinks of Big Government shutting down on the rights of individuals and businesses and it wouldn’t matter whether the U.S. state involved is heavily Democrat or heavily Republican.
Elon Musk moved to Texas and sold all of his California homes after a very public fight with the state of California over its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which temporarily forced Tesla to close the Gigafactory in Fremont before it was declared an “essential business.” The battle included legal challenges against state and county officials whom he accused of overreaching their authority. His statement at the time reflected his most recent Tweet on poorly considered government policy:
“The harsh truth is that California has fallen into disrepair. Bad policies discourage business and innovation, stifle opportunity and make life in major cities ugly and unpleasant. … But now a state like Texas provides these opportunities without the problems and baggage California has accumulated.”
So it may be a matter of whether Texas might pick up baggage that has a different form, but is no less heavy. Some social media accounts have already called for a boycott of companies that have a heavy presence in Texas and Tesla could wind up on that list. So it’s possible that Musk’s unusually polite refusal to let Abbot drag him into the state’s politics by obliquely claiming him as a supporter of the abortion ban is a way to cover his bottom line. Musk has often blasted state and federal lawmakers and regulators for decisions that he did not like.
Musk has previously said that Austin has the potential to become America’s next boom town and called for the development of more housing in the area. Austin is best known for its music scene, which was most popularized by the televised live music show Austin City Limits. The area is also the future home of factories owned by SpaceX and Tesla. Both are expected to provide thousands of jobs in the area and the new Tesla factory has recently shown off a pre-production build of at least one of the vehicle models that will be built at the new factory.