Quote of the Day:
Deep in Silicon Valley, where the free market reigns and the exchange of ideas is celebrated, a subset of tech workers are hiding their true selves. Working as programmers and software engineers, they don't want the stigma that comes with revealing who they really are.
No, they aren’t in-the-closet gays.
They are Republicans!
Napa Valley isn't Republican-friendly territory. George H. W. Bush was the last Republican to carry Napa Valley, and that was in 1988. Mitt Romney won 13 percent of Napa Valley to President Obama’s 84 percent. Google employees donated collectively $720,000 to Obama in 2012, while the same shop contributed a paltry $25,000 for Romney.
And yet hidden in Napa are Republicans who don’t want to come out into the open about their party affiliation for fear it will be a professional handicap. National Journalreports in "The Secret Republicans of Silicon Valley":
Rather than ruffle feathers—or worse—Republicans who work there often just keep quiet. Rich Tafel, who coaches tech companies in politics and policy, understands the dynamic. The founder of the gay group Log Cabin Republicans, he's had many Republicans in Silicon Valley confide to him their true political views.
"You just learn how to operate, if you will, in the closet as a Republican," Tafel told National Journal. "You keep your viewpoints to yourself."
One startup CEO who has worked in Silicon Valley for more than a decade says that while it's popular to talk politics in the workplace, the underlying assumption is that everyone has similar views.
The CEO, who generally votes Republican and donates to GOP candidates—he spoke on background to conceal his right-leaning views—said that in 2012, "you wouldn't want to say you're voting for Romney in the election." At the same time, openly expressing one's support for Obama was "incredibly common."
His opposition to raising the minimum wage is just one area where he diverges with most of his colleagues. "If you say something like, 'We need a higher minimum wage,' you don't get critiqued," he said. But he would never reveal his more conservative outlook on the matter.
"They can't fathom that somebody disagrees with them," he said. "And I disagree with them. So I'm not going to open up that box."
So much for tolerance and the free exchange of ideas.
Napa Valley isn’t the only place in California where Republicans often opt to remain in the closet. In Hollywood, for example, a Republican support group, which includes such well-known actors as Kelsey Grammer, Gary Sinese, and Jon Voigt keeps its membership secret for fear of reprisals (indeed, the IRS showed up and wanted to know more about the group’s meetings with various Republican elected officials).
Some prominent Californians such as Paypal founder Peter Thiel and Hewlwtt-Packard director of corporate communications Sarah Pompei are outfront and visibly active in Republican politics, but many conservatives in California believe they would be professionally hampered if they admitted their real views.
The National Journal story is fascinating—and it makes an important counterfactual point: conservatives are the ones the media likes to lambast as bigoted and judgmental.
Looks like it is the other way around, doesn't it?