Dividing politics and work life


Tribune News Service

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel speaks on the last day of the Republican National Convention on Thursday, July 21, 2016, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

By Isabella Winkler, Columnist

winklerisabellaMark Zuckerberg has unintentionally tangled himself up in the presidential race, and now he must face the backlash.

The Facebook creator proved just how divisive this election has become when his staff memo, in which he defends board member Peter Thiel for his $1.25 million donation to the Donald Trump campaign, circulated the internet.

Zuckerberg justified keeping Thiel on board by citing Facebook’s “culture of diversity,” which would be contradicted if he were to fire someone for his support of Trump.

Since the news broke that Thiel would be donating to the Trump campaign, people were waiting for Zuckerberg’s reaction, and some were dissatisfied that he remained neutral.

“In keeping Thiel around, these companies have chosen to condone what Trump and Thiel, in his backing of Trump, have decided to publicly stand for.” Wired’s Davey Alba said.

But is supporting a candidate directly supporting all of their actions? Does supporting Trump mean that you support grabbing a woman by the — well, you know.

Sure, there’s something to be said about donating millions of dollars to a man who is threatening to sue any woman who accuses him of sexual assault, but like Zuckerberg mentions, there are reasons to support Trump that don’t include supporting sexism, racism or sexual assault.

Millions of people view this election as a decision to be made between the lesser of two evils. Millions of people will be voting next month for their chosen candidate because they hate him or her less than the other.

If we were to judge every Trump or Hillary Clinton supporter by their chosen candidate’s own values, then we probably wouldn’t get along very well with anybody.

When it comes to Trump supporters, whether they’re Silicon Valley billionaires or not, there are people who are staunchly Republican and can’t stand to see another Democrat in office for the next four years. There are people who weigh Trump’s controversies against Clinton’s and think that Trump pales in comparison.

And believe it or not, there are people who just really don’t like Hillary Clinton.

If we expect Zuckerberg to dissociate from a man who supports Trump, then we have to be consistent. If we can’t coexist with our coworkers on the other side of the aisle, no matter how valuable they may be, we must have all of them fired — and not just the ones who donate copious amounts of money.

The fact that we even expect Zuckerberg to reprimand Thiel for his opinions speaks greatly to our lack of tolerance. Trump isn’t a down-ballot candidate with a laughable chance at winning; he has proved himself a serious candidate because he has half of the country behind him. Removing Thiel for donating to his campaign would be telling a large portion of Facebook users that their views are invalid.

Zuckerberg’s decision is backed by his dedication to diversity at Facebook, but it also reminds us that above all, he is a businessman. Letting go of Thiel, an invaluable investor and director of the company, because of his political opinions would be a dumb business move. But ultimately, it would send the message that political stance is a defining characteristic.

If supporting Trump is the only reason for wanting to boycott Thiel, which is virtually impossible given his many stakes across Silicon Valley, then we must reevaluate our threshold of tolerance.

While there may be overlaps in the values we hold and those of the candidate we support, we should not be defined by the ballots we cast nor should we expect to lose our jobs.

Isabella is a sophomore in ACES.

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