Some evidence for partisan sorting of executives into “compatible” companies.

I guess my inclination might be to say that it’s tragic we can’t escape politics. At the same time, the example that Kevin Drum gives in his post is worth considering. Would I want to work at an oil and gas company? While it might be healthy to have boundaries between my occupation and my identity and beliefs, the moral dissonance of my material survival depending on acts I consider deeply wrong would probably cause me to crack.

Maybe the increase in partisanship that is creeping into all parts of American cultural life reflects clearer stakes and clearer boundaries. Maybe corporations, organizations, and governments past lived in less clear moral space that made it easy to be unsure.

Executives are an interesting class to look at when it comes to partisan sorting. These elite have choices on where they work, and their professional and personal reputations are especially tied up in where they work. You will forever be the “ex-CxO at Exxon” or the “former big agriculture executive”. Why wouldn’t they sort so that these identities they carry serve them professionally and personally into the future?

Today’s world may have more partisan sorting, because we have lost the ability to forget. Who you were is always with you, because anyone can find out in a blink of an eye. You will always be that person who cashed in working at a crypto company. You will always be someone who worked in oil and gas during the fracking boom. You will always have been at Facebook during the Trump presidency. Any of these things may be something you’re comfortable with, but it’s easy to see how you may have to face people in the future who will see them as concerning. It’s not much of a leap to see how sorting toward a partisan “agreement” in values proceeds from there.

It’s the path of least resistance dissonance.