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Republican, Catholic — And A Union Man

I met a young man in Kansas City over the weekend. He told me he’s a reader of this blog, and wants to encourage me to keep talking about wokeness in the workplace, and the way it suppresses and persecutes those who don’t share progressive ideology. He shared his story with me. I asked him to write it down so I could pass it on to you. He sent the following, which at his request I’m slightly altering to protect his identity:

As I mentioned, I work for the [major US city] government. While we are in a conservative state, the city itself has been solidly Democrat for a long time. In my department, wokeness isn’t really pushed as a preferable political/social position, it’s just understood to be THE position. These positions are held as fact, not as a competing ideology, since all of the senior leadership in the city and in my department have the same progressive, pro-LGBT views. We don’t have the “witch hunts” of some of the other readers of your blog, primarily because as a municipal government with limited paths to tax revenue in a red state they don’t have the money to hire dozens of diversity commissars to ensure there is no wrongthink causing mass chaos. The memos sent out by our city and department leadership almost always have the standard thinly veiled political/social statements like “we value diversity as the source of our strength,” and “[people in this city] support the rights of people to love who they love and identify how they wish,” which puts me in the awkward position of apparently not being a true citizen of my city, since I’m a socially conservative Christian. For now my job seems safe, for the dual reasons that (1) since I recognize my position as a disliked minority I keep my mouth shut (although I identify openly as a Christian and am known as a devout Catholic), and (2) my work is decidedly non-ideological, so while academics and doctors may be forced to choose between their faith and the demands of their superiors, it’s kind of hard to make IT ideological.

A couple of interesting observations about my position:

1. I consider myself extremely lucky to have a career in government, rather than one in the private industry. For years I complained about how hard it was to get rid of incompetent government employees. While I still get irritated by some of my lazier colleagues, the same processes that make it a long, expensive endeavor to fire lazy workers make it also a long, expensive process for them to get rid of someone like myself — someone who is a hard, competent worker who happens to have the “wrong” beliefs. I could make considerably more money working for one of the large corporations in my town but I have no desire to be forced to bend the knee whenever the 30 year old Brooklynites who run these tech companies decide to force correct thinking on us bigots [in flyover country]. Funny enough it’s the right-to-work laws in some of these red states that make it easier for these corporations to fire conservatives.

2. To provide further protection in the event of my beliefs becoming a source of “unsafe feeling” for progressive co-workers, I joined our labor union. I never thought I would ever be a union member, being one of the countless readers of your blog who used to ascribe to the standard libertarian view of economics. Plus I had the old Phil Valentine view of labor unions as “protecting mediocrity,” where if you were a good worker you didn’t need to be in a union. Boy, working in today’s workplaces and reading the stories of wokeness in the office sure changes your view of that! I’m now in the hilarious position of being a long-time conservative and pretty consistent (although not exclusive) Republican voter who is a government worker in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) — one of the most politically active unions in the country. I’m like a Reaganite nightmare. My union gives 99% of their political donations to Democrats but in the insane world we live in they may end up in the position of defending my right to hold traditional Christian views of marriage and abortion against my Democrat bosses. I’ve actually started wondering if the collapse of private-sector union membership in this country may be something that those with traditionally Christian beliefs may need to start talking about more.

I want to stress that while some of this may seem to be kind of extreme, my city is actually pretty moderate in comparison with many other cities, even in our conservative region. And the factors that I named as reasons that I have hope I won’t be fired don’t typically exist in private sector, even in this city. My position is almost as good as it gets for those who aren’t self-employed, and even the self employed have to deal with boycotts and online hate campaigns if their beliefs become public. Even in my position it pays to prepare, though, so my wife and I working to get our finances in order and find ways to build our “household economy” to be able to withstand periods of unemployment, if I’m ever forced to make the choice between my job and my God. Luckily my job skills are always in demand, but again, I consider myself lucky.

The most important takeaway here is that this socially conservative, Republican-voting Catholic joined a public sector union because he has reason to believe it will protect him from his woke bosses. Maybe it’s time for all of us on the Right to rethink our views of unions. It is definitely time for the Republican Party to quit being so slavishly pro-corporate, and pass some laws protecting the rights of religious dissenters within woke capitalist corporations — those that use “diversity and inclusivity” ideology to identify and suppress those who hold the “wrong” opinions, even though they may otherwise be good employees who work hard and treat all around them with respect.

I found this three-minute SEIU video just now, in which the union talks to some of its conservative members about why they belong to it. Seems to me like the nascent National Conservative movement leaders should reach out to men and women like this, to see what can be learned from them:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZX4KZlwGt20&w=525&h=300]

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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