Politics In Corporate America; Celebrate The Left & Stifle The Right

I spent 21 years in the corporate world and one thing I learned is that if you’re a liberal you can fly your flag(s) as loudly and proudly as you want, but if you’re a conservative you have to stand down and keep your mouth shut.

We would say and often hear “Just keep politics out of the workplace,” while simultaneously celebrating and promoting virtually every leftist cause out there.

When our liberal peers would make snide, rude or even crude remarks with regard to their political values and opponents, those who agreed (or pretended to agree) were allowed to high-five them for it and everyone else intrinsically knew to shut up and take it.

And while it may make even some who might agree with me squirm a bit  (“Stop poking the bear!”), I’ve taken the not-small step of pushing back in plain view of my professional network on the open secret I’ve seen and known about throughout my entire career.

Moreover, I’m relatively certain that the vast majority of the corporate world couldn’t care less about the political and social action so many purport to value. And if we’re being honest I don’t think that’s really a big or earth-shattering revelation either. For most it’s really just all business. Oh sure a lot of the recreationally engaged rank-and-file (those who get their news in passing from reading AOL and Yahoo! headlines, watching Saturday Night Live, the occasional awards show, the viral celebrity tweet or video, Jimmy Kimmel, etc) excitedly go all-in and become proud, true believers in whatever the liberal cause of the day is: the science-denying assertion that “climate change” is not infinitely ubiquitous and that we have the ability to stop it, the bigoted contention that illegal immigrants lack the capacity to follow laws and therefore need a pass, the regressive celebration of identity supremacy, the giddy dismissal of church/state separation while pushing for government-imposed morality, etc.

Guys OMG I’m so proud to work for a company that cares about [insert liberal cause masquerading as corporate value, here]

But it’s because liberalism and leftism have been what’s considered “cool” for the last several decades that the corporate world often aligns with those causes. And the vast majority of the time they do it to boost their own brands.

In the coming decades as the culture evolves and the pendulum shifts; as freedom, liberty, accountability, character-over-identity social awareness, non-violence in the face of speech with which you disagree, and loving America without apologizing for it behind an asterisk — as these become what’s “cool,” the corporate world will undoubtedly begin adopting those values and causes.

And that’s fine.

I’m all for capitalism and branding.

But I just hope — and I mean this sincerely — I just hope my largely well-intended peers on the left (“well-intended” being an observation I’ve made for years and am regularly attacked for but stand by), I hope those peers on the left — no matter how much I may disagree with them on policy, the degree to which ends justify means, and the absence of actual progressivism amid their increasingly unhinged reaction to those with whom they disagree — I truly hope they never have to endure the stifling of speech or the punishment and ridicule for exercising their own that I’ve spent my life watching those on the right subjected to. And that’s particularly true in what would ideally be an apolitical workplace where talent and work ethic — results — supersede window dressing values that shift with political winds.

If we truly want to “just leave politics out of the workplace,” great. Go for it. But my experience has been we make that assertion while at the same celebrating liberal causes and stifling the speech and diversity of thought that comes from the right.

And for me personally, as noted from the inception of this website in the About Me section: In the beginning I hated bullies more than I loved politics, but eventually began to see the symbiosis that often exists between them.

So after 21 years in the corporate world being implicitly bullied out of revealing my social and political values while being bullied into tacitly or even explicitly approving of the left’s — after hundreds of closeted conversations with clients and co-workers who share the same frustration — after becoming attuned to the reality that the social and political action of most corporations has more to do with branding than values — I’ve decided to become the first person I know who doesn’t work in politics or the media to say it out loud; to start speaking up with the same freedom that I’ve spent my career watching those on the left enjoy. And it’s not easy. And it’s not fun. But it’s long overdue and if we are ever going to Make America United Again (something I’ve pitched fervently to Trump’s team, even getting invited in to their NYC headquarters in 2015 and sitting one-on-one with Corey Lewandowski to make my case) — if we’re ever going to Make America United Again then among other things there has to be some balance to what’s considered permissible with respect to politics and speech in the workplace. And right now, those who identify on the right are largely ostracized and worse for speaking up.

So I’m here, in plain sight of my own professional network, to endure the early slings and arrows in an effort to help right that long-standing wrong. To say out loud what those of us who are being honest have long known to be the unspoken reality. And in doing so, to hopefully let sunlight at least begin to do what it does.

NOTE TO LBA READERS: Many of you have read my stuff for years. This piece is more for my professional network who until recently weren’t even aware this site existed.

NOTE TO PROFESSIONAL NETWORK: This isn’t an indictment of any person or company I’ve worked for. It’s an indictment of the corporate culture more largely which, at every turn, has wittingly or not fostered a discriminatory environment with respect to right-minded political and social diversity of thought. And no for the love of all that’s holy they shouldn’t be sued for it. They aren’t the government and so they aren’t the protectors of our free speech and shouldn’t be afforded even the impression of wielding that power. As such, just like with social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, it’s long been my view that an employer’s stifling or even silencing your free speech in the context of your relationship to and/or with them isn’t an attack on your First Amendment rights, but an assertion of their own. And as is typically the case I want the free market to do the heavy and most effective lifting. So I speak out with the hope of contributing in whatever small way I can to enabling more open conversations about what, if we’re being honest, we all know to be true.


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