Next week Apple CEO Tim Cook will be hosting a fundraiser to support U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and other House Republicans. Cook has supported Democrats and Republicans in the past. What business leaders recognize is that, despite differences on some issues, they must work with politicians in both parties to help advance common goals. The fact is that Republicans sometimes have greater success at achieving what are traditionally considered progressive or liberal outcomes because they do so with less resistance. This article explores some examples of how and why.
On 15 June 2006, President George W. Bush established the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument — one of the largest marine protected areas on the planet. Of more than 1,700 such areas, it is the 7th largest in the world with over 140,000 square miles protected (an area larger than Germany). Aside from a few criticisms, liberals and environmentalists were largely silent about the achievement, and conservatives probably didn’t notice. So, it wasn’t deemed newsworthy.
Had a similar proposal been suggested by an environmental group like Greenpeace or a Democrat, it would have been quickly rejected by Republicans as too far reaching, and most Democrats would have said that it was too unrealistic. A minority of Democrats and progressives would support the proposal saying it was sensible. Then it would have failed. This is what happens repeatedly.
For example, when Bernie Sanders proposed free College education, Republicans rejected the idea as ‘Socialism’ and unaffordable. Many Democrats said the proposal was unrealistic. Those who did support Sanders in this and other initiatives were silenced and marginalized by their own party.
Meanwhile, years ago, the conservative Republican Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, established the TennesseePromise.gov program to make sure that all youth in the state receive a free College education. It continues today with great success. This represents a major historic accomplishment in providing taxpayer funded higher education. As with Bush’s historic environmental achievement, in the case of Tennessee’s free college education initiative, Democrats are silent and the initiative isn’t on the radar for most Republicans. So, it’s not deemed as newsworthy. History is being made, and nobody acknowledges it.
Republicans sometimes end up inadvertently accomplishing historic victories on what would otherwise be considered progressive ‘liberal’ issues:
- Chronic homelessness was reduced by 91 percent in Utah, supported by conservatives, and overseen by a conservative Republican Governor (Gary Herbert), using a model promoted by the Bush administration that established 10-year plans to end chronic homelessness. Taxpayer funded housing for the poor has officially been established by Republicans, and the data suggests it’s saving millions of dollars. (view NPR article)
- With regard to justice reform and the national incarceration crisis, it is the conservative states under Republican leadership like Texas that are closing prisons in favor of mentoring programs and reform initiatives. Michigan has now closed 22 facilities since 2002, under Republican leadership.
- The first African American Woman to be Secretary of State was Condoleezza Rice — appointed by George W. Bush.
- On the Environment, Richard Nixon not only established the Environmental Protection Agency but had numerous other environmental victories.
So, whatever the issue might be, we’re going to find meaningful successes among Republicans as well as Democrats.
Those who consider themselves liberals and progressives need to stop demonizing Republicans, and instead start recognizing some of their praiseworthy accomplishments that achieve commonly shared desirable outcomes.
In hosting a Republican fundraiser, Tim Cook provides an excellent example of how people can reach out across differences to build relationships and work on common goals, rather than demonizing each other and creating further divisiveness in our country.