Like many Californians, Dex Torricke-Barton is unhappy about the outcome of the US presidential election. While he’s enjoyed a successful career in corporate communications working for Google, Facebook, and most recently SpaceX, he’s also kept in mind the struggles of his late father—a Burmese refugee.
Now, he’s quitting his job to help address the “social divides” that he feels contributed to the election result. On Nov. 16 he announced on Facebook he was leaving SpaceX to “work on causes focused exclusively on social change.” He wrote:
As an immigrant and the son of a refugee, and as someone dedicated to advancing the interests of humanity, I don’t want to watch while the world slips backwards… From what I see, the world is becoming a less open and less compassionate place… More than 65 million people are refugees, more than at any point in history… Nationalist movements are ascending across Europe. Brexit, a British tragedy, is in danger of becoming a general European failure. Here in the United States, my home for the last eight years, Tuesday’s election result is yet another huge setback.
Part of the problem, as he sees it, is the US’s growing social divides, and attendant lack of empathy and understanding, “between coastal elites and communities left behind by globalization, between those who seek greater diversity and those who are fearful of it, between the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in a changing world.”
To address such gaps Torricke-Barton said that he would work with existing organizations, and that he was also starting a project with a group of Silicon Valley innovators. He didn’t provide specifics, but, not surprisingly for someone with his background, he hinted it would involve technology, which “can play a key role in connecting communities.”
Before the election, Torricke-Barton made a plea on Medium to voters to back Hillary Clinton, arguing that “America’s future can be driven by compassion for the world, or a retreat behind walls.”
He recalled how his father as a child hid in ditches from Japanese soldiers during World War II, and how today children from Syria and elsewhere also face perilous and often deadly circumstances.
He criticized Trump’s outlook on the world:
If you believe in the ‘America First’ policies of Donald Trump, then there is much more to lose from the world than there is to gain. We have everything we need right here. Those who seek America’s help are principally scroungers who’ve ripped us off, menaces who threaten our communities or at least someone else’s problem. Internationalism is a dirty word.
“We are seeing increasingly harsh social divisions emerging in the United States and in Europe, and I believe this poses a really fundamental threat to the future of our society,” Torricke-Barton told Fortune. “I didn’t see how I could stay on the sidelines.”
A rash of racist attacks broke out in the US after Trump’s victory.
In his announcement, Torricke-Barton also said he would write a book about “how technology is transforming societies from the Rust Belt to Brexit Britain, rural India to Sub-Saharan Africa… To build a world of greater freedom, justice and prosperity, we need to hear the voices of more people from more communities.”