Sunday, February 25, 2007

Silicon Valley Hates Republicans

Over the weekend, my post on how being Republicans may have shaped the outsider mindset of the PayPal team was published on VentureBeat.

I'm saddened to report that the comments on the post seem to reflect a reflexive hatred of Republicans that seems to blind people to what I was actually saying.

Here is my key argument:

No one seems to have pointed out is the obvious fact that being a Silicon Valley Republican may very well be as strong a predictor of entrepreneurial success as being a Stanford CS grad student.

The reasons behind this surprisingly overlooked fact may be even more astonishing. A rock-ribbed belief in free enterprise can’t hurt, but I’m going to argue that the success of PayPal’s GOP mafia is simply the logical extension of one of the eternal truths of Silicon Valley: Outsiders make the best entrepreneurs.

And in our neck of the woods, Republicans are the ultimate outsiders.

Nowhere did I suggest that their support for particular policies or politicians was important; rather I wrote that being outcasts improved their chances at entrepreneurial success, just as in earlier eras, counterculture icons like Steve Jobs and Mitch Kapor rode their outsider status to success.

Yet the sight of anything positive being written about Republicans seems to have people in a tizzy. Here is a quick sample of comments:

"Chris Yeh what is the point of your post because you know next to nothing about politics or the mindset and mentality of this country."

"Dude try finding another occupation in life…writing a blog doesn’t cut it for you…this was such a waste of time on your part."

"Your attempt at becoming the Limbaugh for the tech set by manipulating sociolinguistics failed. The words “Outcasts” and “Republicans” are an oxymoron – your propagandizing."

Now of course, the very act of writing a post on Republicans was a calculated attempt on my part to stir up controversy, so I'm actually pretty happy with the results. But it certainly doesn't bode well for bipartisanship in this neck of the woods. Any closeted Republicans want to speak up?


Anonymous said...

Frankly, most of the bay area suffers from political groupthink that can't withstand the slightest bit of scrutiny. The illogical thinking I see reflexively expressed up and down the line from help desk people to CEO's and VC's regularly shocks me. If they applied the same level of thinking to business (and many do) their businesses would not survive. However, most people in this aread do not understand the connection between economic and political liberty and ardently support policies that would kill the golden goose of Silicon Valley.

Classical liberalism is most faithfully put forward by conservatives today who are most fully represented by the republican party. Democrats continually conflate the "shoulds" of this world with the "musts" and want to make every "should" a "must" by force of law (and hence force, period).

Try disagreeing with them and see what happens.

Can democrats be successful in business - absolutely, but only so long as they hold to a bifurcated, self-contradictory world view.

Notice that I have to post anonymously for fear of my job. The anti-republican vitriol I hear repeated daily at work ventures deep into what the left calls hate speech. I have no problem with the speech part - but fear any of them acting on their beliefs in the workplace.

Tom Evslin said...

Hi Chris:

Republicans may be even more rare here in Vermont - even though those of us who do exist tend to be social liberals and economic conservatives and all over the map on foreign policy.

But your scree againast group think whether on the right or the left is right on. An entrepreneur who goes with the crowd is an oxymoron no matter which wa the crowd is leaning.

jax said...

I'm not a Republican, but agree with part of what anonymous says. One of the reasons I simply couldn't live in Silicon Valley or the Bay Area; the group think is overwhelming and annoying as hell. I'm a classical liberal (the part I disagree with anonymous on is the idea that classical liberals are represented by the Republican party - I wish!) and find others of my breed sadly rare in that world. It's silly, because anyone who understands how today's online world works (which many of these people do) should understand how much more powerful enlightened self-interest and self-organising networks are than any actions taken by the government.

Foobarista said...

Part of the problem is the weird perversion of "individuality" that has morphed into a stifling "gotta be cool and right-thinking" groupthink.

The odd thing is that the glaring contradictions between their attitude as hard-charging business types and their squishy organic fair-trade-latte leftism doesn't make their heads explode. I've learned to never point out these contradictions if I want to be talked to again...

I have a feeling that if the policies the politicians they support were actually put in place, they'd quickly shift back to Republicanism, or at least the more libertarian wing of the party. With Bush in office, they get to wrap themselves up in the coolness of "dissent" without actually having to pay those nasty taxes they advocate.

Chris said...

As an aside, it's my firm belief that many in the technology find themselves in the dilemma of being classically libertarian. They are horrified by both the economic creationism of the Democrats and the scientific creationism of the Republicans.

I covered this territory before in my post on why I vote Republican despite opposing the party's stance on nearly every lifestyle issue:

Anonymous said...

Fundamentalist Christians are even more "outsider" than Republicans.

auren said...

Chris -- this is a great thought-provoking post. we need more of these controversial (yet truthful) missives about Silicon Valley.

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