Is Uber taking a hard left turn?

by | Jul 12, 2016

Uber Technologies, Inc, better known simply as “Uber,” the online transportation network, has built an impressive political resume over the course of the company’s short life. The upstart organization has had to do battle with entrenched taxi companies, local and state regulations, and of course, competition like Lyft, and the cab companies themselves.

Along the way, they’ve been blasted by liberal thought leaders as “anti-labor.” In a recent piece published in the Huffington Post, Uber’s drivers are compared with “scab labor,” a term intended to heap scorn on the retirees, moonlighting dads, and others seeking to make a few extra bucks as drivers.

In Florida, Uber and it’s closest competitor, Lyft, have joined forces to lobby the state legislature to help keep the service legal. In the process, both companies strive hard to curry favor with a center-right legislature and governor.

Uber's "moment of silence to reflect on gun violence" message.

Uber’s “moment of silence to reflect on gun violence” message.

Which is why Uber’s move last week forcing users to “reflect on gun violence” during a one-minute moment of silence, has some in Tallahassee scratching their heads.

“Uber needs the support of  Republicans in the legislature. Why would they go out of their way to piss those guys off?” asked one lobbyist who declined to be identified but is not registered to represent either company. “Reflecting on gun violence sounds like something they’d think up in California, not Florida.”

Indeed, Uber’s world headquarters is based in San Francisco, and so it should come as no surprise that the company’s politics might lean slightly leftward. But is there any real upside to blaming the five police deaths in Dallas on “gun violence” versus “racial tension,” or even more accurately, “deranged man?”

For now, Uber still enjoys a solid reputation among conservatives.  This is due in large part to how the company has disrupted traditional taxi service, kept costs low, and proven the concept without much help in the way of government handouts.

But if Uber keeps up the opportunistic political messaging, Lyft may get a lift, while Uber’s brand becomes politically polarized.  Will it hurt their joint attempts at legitimization in the Florida legislature?  Probably not, but why run the risk?

 

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