Conservatives should take yesterday’s firing by Google of its programmer James Damore as a needed wake-up call, but in more ways than one.
The incident is already being used as evidence of corporate political intolerance. Maybe it is. But that misses several other points, all of which are much more important.
First of all, I will second (or third) the sentiment expressed this morning by both our editor Steve Berman (in The Resurgent) and National Review’s David French, that businesses have the right to fire people without running afoul of the First Amendment.
That’s more important than you realize. Imagine what would happen if businesses could not fire employees for expressing sentiments to colleagues or to customers that were harmful, say, to the company’s bottom line.
What if you ran a business and discovered that some of your workers were outspoken Marxists? And what if the performance of those workers indicated they were subtly undermining or sabotaging performance? What then? Would you be able to fire them?
Or would their political leanings — overtly hostile to the success of your company — give them “safe harbor” from a pink slip?
Would you be forced to retain them?
And how would their hardworking colleagues respond? Can you imagine how destructive these hostile workers would be to morale?
There’s more. The Google story should remind us that oversharing is, for the most part, harmful and risky. We as a society have lost our sense of (and perhaps Millennials have never been taught) boundaries. The workplace is not our home, our co-workers are not our friends — indeed, they are competitors in the same sense as a reality show competition — and our employers are not surrogate parents.
Most of all, we need to learn and remember that we work as employees for the benefit of the employer, not the other way around. We can survive and many can prosper by aligning their interests with the corporate interest; once those interests diverge, the relationship is immediately endangered.
This is not heartless or cruel. It is economically optimal. It explains companies’ difficulties in employee retention.
As for workplace discourse, we must learn that work is not home. Not even if we spend most of our waking hours in the office.
Conservatives’ problems don’t stem only from corporate managments’ ideological rigidity or a prevailing pressure (not necessarily endorsed) to conform.
Primarily, these problems are self-induced. Conservatives and indeed all independent minded thinkers — classic liberals — must now add emotional maturity to the mix.
We must realize that the workplace is not a safe space. Not for anyone, really, but not for conservatives and not for those who wish to be open about their thoughts.
The problem, then, lies in our wrong approach to work. We have made the mistake of thinking that we are entitled to fairness, to the same treatment at work irrespective of politics.
But whether others are able to “get away with it” is to miss the point. Everyone is making the mistake of treating the office space like an extension of the friendly college campus or bar scene. It just isn’t.
In short, conservatives have joined progressives in becoming way, way too comfortable in environments where it isn’t merely inappropriate, but it threatens your paycheck.
Conservatives need to readjust their expectations, not because they’re persecuted right wingers, but because the workplace is the place to make money. Not to test out your debating skills or settle an old argument.
When conservatives grow up and accept reality, they’ll stop blaming the progressives for hostile work environments.
They’ll start owning their responsibilities.
They’ll become more focused on their jobs, their careers and their own ambitions.
They’ll become indifferent to what the progressives say, think or do.
And that’s when conservatives will get ahead.
Now there’s something that will drive the social justice activists nuts.