But today, writing from my parents’ home in a wholesome Midwestern suburb, I feel vindication! Why? Hoover Institution Fellow Michael Petrilli penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, “Whole Foods Republicans!” Why, I’m a Republican, and yes, I probably eat lunch at Whole Foods weekly! According to Petrilli, forget “Sam’s Club Republicans,” “Republicans railing against the eastern elite,” we need more “Whole Foods Republicans”!
What is a Whole Foods Republican, you ask? Petrilli writes,
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.)
Petrilli raises this concern because in 2008, President Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win a majority of college-educated voters since the 1970’s, and college-educated voters are one of the fastest growing demographics. Republicans keep trying to play the populist, cultural wedge card, going after latte-drinkers at Starbuck’s (or Coupa!), but the fact is, the segment of the population they’re trying to court is getting smaller and smaller.
I can relate. Besides frequenting Whole Foods, I’m also the financial manager of a row house at Stanford, and some of my fellow staff members are way into sustainability and other green habits. As a result, I recycle more than ever, always make sure leftover food is composted, and try not to leave the water running when I’m not immediately using it. I hate the idea of mandating any of this behavior, but they’re still great habits to have – every little bit helps, and individuals learning the consequences of their actions is a good thing. Not to mention I also love the idea of living in a big, walkable city when I’m older! Per Petrilli, I fit pretty well into the definition of a Whole Foods Republican.
Sure, the Republican Party needs to take a cue and learn to court other Whole Foods Republicans to bring them into the fold, with more socially inclusive (we are the party that pushed the Civil Rights Act into passage) and environmentally sensitive (market-based?) policies, but in the meantime, I’m going to try my best to find more Whole Foods Republicans myself! Who’s with me? Heck, if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a Whole Foods Republican yourself. In fact, a sizeable chunk of Stanford students could well be Whole Foods Republicans and don’t even know it.
Brief Aside: Yet another reason for Republicans to get excited about Whole Foods is their founder, John Mackey, who made national waves with his August 11 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare.” Petrilli points out that Mackey is a well-known libertarian, and his op-ed on health care provides a neat outline of conservative/libertarian ideas for health care reform that don’t get attention in the mainstream media.
After Mackey published his op-ed, of course, activists tried to mobilize a boycott of Whole Foods for Mackey’s insensitivity toward universal health care! Apparently for liberal activists, his eco-friendly, organic, sustainable grocery store wasn’t enough – by breaking the line on health care, off with his head! When I heard about this last August, I made sure to shop at Whole Foods even more.