Salvo 08.28.2023 7 minutes


SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch light trail in sky at night, St Augustine Beach, Florida, USA

The government’s attack on Elon Musk is the latest regime experiment in repression.

On the anniversary of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden took to the teleprompter to celebrate the successes of his signature law and of “Bidenomics.” Bidenomics—a pejorative originally coined by the Wall Street Journal—has been repurposed by the regime to mean something like “any good economic news is because of us.” The crux of the prepared remarks was that the Act and Bidenomics are great for America and Americans: “Bidenomics is anchored in what’s always worked best for the country: investing in America, investing in Americans.”  

At nearly the same moment that the president was touting his administration’s supposed success in creating jobs for Americans, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to enjoin Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) from creating jobs for Americans. This is not a polemical mischaracterization; the Department’s complaint hinges on its claim that “from September 2018 to May 2022, out of more than 10,000 hires, SpaceX hired only one [asylee]…and did not hire any individuals who were refugees.” Musk’s company, which unquestionably is a global leader in space and satellite technology, has revenues in the billions of dollars, and employs 12,000 people, is now in the federal crosshairs for only hiring Americans and, presumably, permanent residents. A few years ago, you might be forgiven for assuming this hypocrisy was the consequence of one arm of a bloated bureaucracy not knowing what the other was doing. Not anymore.  

More sinister forces are at work. Any informed observer would recognize this move as a deliberate power play: the regime says one thing to deceive its low-information voters while doing another to destroy its opponents. Here, since Elon Musk is a regime opponent, it is irrelevant that SpaceX’s hiring practices are consistent with the president’s supposed economic goals. Musk must be stopped (or at least deterred), even if it means Americans will lose their jobs. In this respect, the suit is a lame attempt to sideline Musk prior to election season. Second, the suit also reveals what the regime (and the ruling class that supports it) think about America and ordinary Americans. They don’t like or care about them.

Regime Opponent

Musk isn’t just any regime opponent. He is equipped with extensive financial resources, soaring popularity, and a willingness to speak plain truth publicly. He’s also unpredictable, which makes him dangerous. And, of course, Musk has unilateral control over X (formerly known as Twitter), a social media platform of nearly unrivaled scope. This makes him a threat to the regime—a threat the regime takes seriously, as it should. As a quick example, consider Tucker Carlson’s recent interview of former President Trump. Carlson smartly aired it on X at the same time as the first Republican debate aired on Fox News, annihilating the legacy media in the process by amassing hundreds of millions of views. These ratings (if they can be called that) are unlike anything the world has ever witnessed. The regime knows it, and the regime knows that X could be a game changer in the upcoming election. Which means the regime knows it must do something to minimize Musk’s role in electoral politics, whether through X or otherwise. The DOJ’s lame suit against SpaceX is another flaccid attempt to do just that.  

Interestingly, with this suit, the regime has made a dangerous gamble. It is betting that, like most government complaints, litigation will commence in a cloistered administrative proceeding far from public scrutiny, and that it will sap Musk’s time and resources and deter him from further “misbehavior,” at least through the election. But Musk has demonstrated a pugnacity unusual for men of his station. For example, in the Twitter Files saga, Musk exposed the government’s covert censorship machinery despite extraordinary official backlash.

America Last

The government’s suit against SpaceX is absurd. In the DOJ press release, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke claims that its purpose is to “allow asylees and refugees to fairly compete for job opportunities and contribute their talents to SpaceX’s workforce.” The problem with SpaceX, it seems, is not only that Musk has been hiring too many Americans, but that too many of them are untalented. That’s how they launch all those rockets into space, land them vertically in a fantastic technique reminiscent of the best science fiction, and then reuse them: by hiring dimwitted Americans!

Weirdly, Clarke’s release also states: “SpaceX recruits and hires for a variety of positions, including welders, cooks, crane operators, baristas and dishwashers…. The jobs at issue in the lawsuit are not limited to those that require advanced degrees.” This reads like a sentence the editors forgot to remove, though it should have been removed given how damning it is. Rephrased, this suit isn’t merely about requiring SpaceX to replace educated Americans with their “refugee” counterparts, but also about ensuring that SpaceX hires more low-skilled foreigners instead of low-skilled Americans. When these actions are considered in light of the president’s words from a week earlier, the contrast reveals more than a tone-deaf regime. It reveals malevolence.

At the top of the press release, in enlarged, bold font, are emblazoned the words: “Asylees and Refugees With Relevant Information Should Contact the Justice Department” (capitals in the original). This is not hard to decipher. The Department wants foreigners to provide the government with information about so-called wrongdoing by Americans and American companies. Your government wants foreigners to snitch on you! And don’t be deluded into thinking that this is about some small minority of suffering immigrants seeking refuge or asylum. It’s not. According to the regime friendly Migration Policy Institute, “more than 1.3 million asylum applications awaited processing as of May 2023, and many among the record number of arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border intend to seek asylum.” (My italics.) Is every illegal immigrant now a “refugee” or “asylee”?

Justice filed its complaint as an administrative matter, which further reveals the government’s disdain for ordinary Americans. By pursuing this matter administratively, the government can avoid having to convince an actual jury of American citizens that SpaceX should be enjoined from hiring American citizens. Why would the government (your government) do this? Because it doesn’t trust Americans to serve as jurors when it comes to adjudicating the lawfulness of the regime’s agenda. Here, that means it doesn’t want Americans to have any say in whether SpaceX should be required to employ a “record number” of aliens instead of Americans.

The government can’t present this case to a jury, and it knows it. If Musk were able to try this case to a jury, he and his attorneys would be appealing to American citizens, not a political hack. And ordinary Americans still believe their government should facilitate the very things SpaceX is doing: investing in America and hiring Americans. To a jury of Americans, the government’s complaint against SpaceX is not a complaint at all. It’s just another indicator—in a seemingly endless series of indicators—that things are upside down. And that’s why the SpaceX suit is in front of an ALJ and not in an Article III court, where it belongs.

If the government of the United States of America can sue an American company because it “hired only U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents”; can sidestep the jury system, that last vestige of representative government in which American citizens can still participate; can publicly encourage aliens of dubious legal status to snitch on the so-called wrongdoing of Americans and American companies; and can then rely on its propaganda mouthpieces in the mainstream media to pretend none of this is happening, then the country is in bad shape indeed.

We need to demonstrate conviction that these lies will not be tolerated, that the regime cannot use the federal government to bully its opponents, and that we will defend the remaining shreds of our small-c constitutional order (the right of citizens to serve on juries) from this relentless onslaught. Musk has that opportunity now. The regime must be forced to explain publicly its decision to persecute an American company for hiring tens of thousands of Americans (skilled and unskilled) for well-paying, stable jobs right here in our country. Musk must stand up against the war that the American government is conducting against its own citizenry.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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