I guess “Whole Foods Republicans” must be the citified cousins of the more agrarian-minded crunchy cons?
What’s needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate “Whole Foods Republicans”—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. These highly-educated individuals appreciate diversity and would never tell racist or homophobic jokes; they like living in walkable urban environments; they believe in environmental stewardship, community service and a spirit of inclusion. And yes, many shop at Whole Foods, which has become a symbol of progressive affluence but is also a good example of the free enterprise system at work. (Not to mention that its founder is a well-known libertarian who took to these pages to excoriate ObamaCare as inimical to market principles.)
What makes these voters potential Republicans is that, lifestyle choices aside, they view big government with great suspicion. There’s no law that someone who enjoys organic food, rides his bike to work, or wants a diverse school for his kids must also believe that the federal government should take over the health-care system or waste money on thousands of social programs with no evidence of effectiveness. Nor do highly educated people have to agree that a strong national defense is harmful to the cause of peace and international cooperation.
The main problem with this column is that the author doesn’t provide even a bit of evidence that these folks exist in significant numbers. There may be no law that says that progressive social attitudes must go hand-in-hand with progressive politics, but in the actual world they usually do.
Part of the reason, perhaps, is that things like “walkable urban environments,” “environmental stewardship,” and “diverse schools” usually require some kind of government action. At the very least they require more than simple laissez-faire. But since GOP valorization of “free enterprise” usually accompanies a disdain for robust (non-war-related) government programs of any sort, it’s not surprising that people who value these things tend to fall on the left. No doubt there are affluent Whole Foods shoppers who are mainly concerned with keeping more of their paychecks and maintaining their “progressive lifestyle,” but people who take progressive values seriously are likely to be inclined toward progressive politics.