Back in the day, I ran a small career counseling business. Had a few employees, did well enough. Bought a house and over a couple decades achieved all I wanted on the material plane (which isn't all that much). And my politics were never the same.
At the beginning of my entrepreneurial adventure, I was your standard-issue progressive, waxing poetic about social justice while looking down on "corporate America". Judged people if they "looked Republican". Wouldn't date men who were "right-wing". I was even a Democratic Socialist for a while.
Then one too many clients complained about how bad luck had ruined their careers - the same clients who showed up late for appointments (if at all) and didn't follow-through on assignments. And one too many of my own employees became "outraged" when fired for chronic misbehavior. Basically, I heard the victim narrative one too many times. Yeah, yeah - someone else is always to blame. And I came to appreciate how frickin hard it is to run a successful business.
Which is why it makes total sense to me that small business owners are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. One, the vast majority of small business owners work long hours – so the Republican emphasis on hard work resonates with them. Two, the vast majority of small business owners make less than $100K a year; they don’t see themselves as part of an “elite establishment” but as hard-working common folk pursuing the American Dream – another Republican theme. Three, over two-thirds of small businesses fail within 10 years, so owners are sensitive to government policies that impact their bottom line. Four, even when small businesses beat the odds, it typically takes decades for owners to strike it rich. As far as these lucky few are concerned, their riches are deserved, not the result of unfair privilege.
After all those years of risk-taking, uncertainty, sleepless nights, and delayed gratification, who wouldn't prefer the party of low taxes and small government? Even non-Republican small business owners tend to support the type of business-friendly policies favored by the GOP. This was evident in a recent survey in which 59% of respondents indicated they “strongly or somewhat” approved of the way the Trump administration has handled business-related issues, even though just 39% identified as Republican. No wonder small business optimism shot up after Trump was elected and has remained strong ever since.
Not saying I'm a Republican, but I've come to appreciate the Grand Old Party and hope it survives and thrives with its core values intact after this Trumpian interlude.
Note: This is an updated version of a 2018 post.