I’m worried my new hire won’t fit into our very liberal — and vocal — team

A reader writes:

I work in marketing as a creative director for a large brokerage firm in a very religious/conservative state. The past couple of years have been difficult with the previous White House administration — it’s affected our business substantially and has created a lot of volatility within our office. With political tensions still running high, it’s left our department in a delicate position as we’re supposed to remain neutral to all facets of our company (of which, there are many). The past four years have put a palpable strain on a lot of working relationships and we’ve found it can be especially difficult to work with some people, especially after you realize they’re not who you thought they were.

Having said that, I have an incredible team of three creatives who are very politically opinionated and don’t hold back when it comes to expressing how they feel. They’re usually pretty good about keeping those types of discussions quiet and within our department, so I’ve not had to worry about confrontation or offending anyone. Additionally, we have excellent personal and working relationships with one another, probably because we all share similar viewpoints on many (if not most) political issues, and have supported each other during the darkest of times.

For the past two months, we’ve been desperately searching for a new graphic designer that can handle the pressure, workload, and conservative environment. We’ve finally interviewed a young man who I think would be a great candidate. However … looking over his Facebook page, I am concerned he may not fit in with my team’s outspoken liberal-democratic, agnostic, feminist, anti-capitalist (and the list goes on) views. I’m especially worried about my editor. With the past four years being what they were, she is still on fire and would rather die on whatever hill she’s battling that day than let someone (especially a new guy) get away with saying something she doesn’t agree with. It’s exhausting, to be honest. And despite our many attempts at talking with her about this issue, she just can’t help herself. I know that whoever we hire will, at some point, say something to light her fuse and it will be hellfire for everyone.

I am concerned about how to appropriately broach the topic with my team and/or the new hire. I know we all agree on the same issues, and up until now, it’s not been a problem to speak openly. But times are changing and we need to be more open/welcoming to those who differ from ourselves, especially in our department. Is there a way to ask my team to keep their opinions to themselves, at least long enough to let the new guy settle in? What can I do to make the new person more comfortable when they start? Can I warn him, or my team, in some way without planting negative, pre-conceived notions? I am so overwhelmed with projects right now and am desperate for a new employee. We’ve been looking for a qualified person for a long time and we finally have a promising lead; I don’t want to scare him off before he even starts. I also don’t want to give my team the impression that the new hire “doesn’t think like us” and it becomes an awkward team dynamic where people feel like they can’t say what they think, or our work and inter-departmental relationships suffer. Can you help me?!

I think you needed to warn this guy before he accepted the job.

Put yourself in his shoes: How would you feel if you ended up in a job surrounded by highly vocal, opinionated people with politics opposite to yours and who would “rather die” than keep quiet about their views? You’d presumably be pretty miserable, right? You might end up quickly looking to leave. You definitely wouldn’t be happy you’d taken the job.

For that matter, I think you’d need to warn any new hire even if they were politically identical to you. A lot of people who share your politics would still find the environment you describe exhausting and wouldn’t want to work in it. (I wouldn’t want to.)

I know the horse is already out of the barn but: It was a mistake to allow your team’s culture to develop this way. It means you’re going to have trouble incorporating anyone new who doesn’t share your politics, as well as anyone who does but still doesn’t want to work in an environment where people are talking about politics all day … which covers the vast, vast majority of people.

You’ve created a very specific culture that will be an active turn-off for most people … and which sounds like it might not be working for your current staff either, given that you describe one person’s behavior as “exhausting” and you’re worried about hellfire. I’d be curious to know whether either of your other two staffers are privately fed up with this but don’t feel they can do anything about it.

And to be clear, teams develop specific cultures all the time. You can’t avoid having some sort of culture. But when it’s one that will drive off large numbers of people and doesn’t have anything to do with supporting the actual work you’re doing (if anything, it’s likely distracting from the work), you’ve got to step back and ask if it’s justifiable or not.

There might be times that it is! If you work in a field where you have no trouble attracting qualified applicants and where the intense politics talk is a draw to enough of the people you want to hire, rather than a turn-off, and if the management above you has no problem with you screening for hires who will be happy in that culture … then it’s more your call to make. I’d still predict it would come back to bite you at some point, although companies develop unusual cultures that work for them all the time. But none of that sounds like the case here — you are having trouble finding hires, the behavior has been enough of a problem that you’ve had to have multiple conversations about stopping it, and since you note that your team is “supposed to remain neutral,” I’m betting your management wouldn’t be thrilled about what’s going on.

You wrote that you don’t want a dynamic where people feel like they can’t say what they think … but most people do some self-editing while they’re at work because they’re there to get a job done, not to express every political thought they have. I don’t want to ignore that what’s “political” can be in the eye of the beholder, and blanket bans on political talk can end up feeling like an endorsement of the status quo … but your work environment has gone far, far beyond that. It’s reasonable to expect people to focus primarily on work.

This also isn’t just about your team needing to be more open to different opinions. Most people don’t want to be around regular political rants, even if the ranter is “open” to different views. Most people just don’t want that at work, period. (And also — how open do you want to be really? What if it turns out the new guy loves an aggressive debate and his viewpoints are deeply repugnant to the rest of you? You can’t silence one person while letting the others continue, you team dynamics will be a disaster, and everyone will go home with headaches every day.)

So where does that leave you, in practical terms? I’m worried the answer is: in a really bad spot. You can tell your team that things have gotten out of control and the political talk needs to stop, especially now that a new person is coming in. You can share that it’s exhausting and distracting. And you can be deliberate about shutting it down every time it starts. Maybe that’ll work. It’s your best option so if it does work, great. But given what you’ve said about the editor who “would rather die on whatever hill she’s battling that day than let someone get away with saying something she doesn’t agree with” and how she’s already ignored multiple attempts to contain her, I’m not sure it will. And if it doesn’t, you’ll have to decide how far you’re willing to go. If the choice is between keeping her versus being able to hire anyone new (or having new hires be miserable), which will you pick? Because it sounds really likely that it’s going to come down to that.

{ 648 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Autotune you out*

    I know it doesn’t meet the technical definition of discrimination, but the whole vibe of “my team won’t hire anyone who thinks differently than we do” feels very…icky

    Reply
      1. Joan Rivers*

        Agree that it’s a little late to try to rein this in, but it IS about doing the work and not conversing. How much time does staff spend talking politically?
        And it’s way too late to bring it up to the new hire after hiring him.
        Because it’s not just about espousing one’s “ideas” in a debate — people tend to express who they are by what they call people, how they treat them, etc. So HE isn’t the only one who might say something that triggers someone else.

        Reply
      2. Software Engineer*

        ‘Culture fit’ has always been troubling. At my company there’s generally a question if you say not a good ‘culture fit’ it’s… what do you mean by that, exactly? How will this person not fit in? Because we interview specifically for the important parts of what makes you a good person to work here, so if I can’t name what it is that makes you not fit in it’s probably not something we want to consider

        Reply
        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yes, there was a company I didn’t fit into, because I had to leave on the dot to pick my kid up. I was the only mother there. When I went on maternity leave for my second, they proudly told me they’d hired a 40yo woman to replace me, thinking she was too old to have another baby. I was overjoyed when she told me she was pregnant!
          So then they hired a man to cover her maternity leave. But he couldn’t take the pressure and ended up on sick leave having plunged back into alcoholism. The culture sucked, basically.

          Reply
        2. Wintermute*

          I wouldn’t say it’s always troubling, I will say it’s smoke, you need to make sure it’s not a fire.

          For instance, how a company feels about going above and beyond and flexible and unorthodox solutions to problems is a huge part of their culture. If you have a company that expects you to stick within strictly defined job roles, to communicate only via spanning the hierarchy tree (I.e. to talk to another team you talk to your boss who talks to their boss who talks to the other team) as opposed to directly reaching out to a peer in another department, and do follow written procedures and policies exactly as dictated to you by the company rule and procedure books, that is a cultural thing. Someone used to a “get the problem solved” mentality and a non-siloed work environment would not fit on that team.

          Conversely some companies value direct communication and taking personal ownership of issues, if someone in that environment has an attitude of “oh I’d better not I’m not sure that’s in my job description” (or a “stand in the hallway waiting for an electrician because you’re not allowed to move a spool of wire out of your way– only electricians move wire bobbins” kind of attitude) they’d get a reputation as a miserable jobsworth and an obstruction, they just don’t fit into the culture.

          Likewise, one place I applied for a job their culture was that unpleasant jobs and shifts were rotated often. Honestly I think it’s a great idea, yeah, you end up working third shift for four months out of the year, but conversely no one ever gets stuck working third shift for years, on one level it’s a little less friendly to people with daytime obligations but they found they couldn’t find enough people that volunteered for third shift readily when they had more work to do and rather than saddle a few people with all the burden, they spread it out, same with heavily physical jobs (which had the added benefit of them not working anyone to the bone, you’d work a demanding job for one rotation then you were on lighter duty with time to let your body, back and knees recover). If you expected more stability in your hours or expected to be able to be hired to do easy work and have them hire someone else to do the hard work, or conversely expected if you were hired to do hard work you’d be paid a premium and always do the hard work (though I should note their wages were high for the area, across the board), then you’re not a good culture fit.

          it isn’t ALWAYS a code word for like demographics and race, it can legitimately mean that they have a specific way of doing business you need to buy in to to be happy there.

          Reply
          1. Quickbeam*

            We had a hospital in our area that offered 7/70 scheduling. You worked 26 weeks a year, every other week 7 10 hour shifts, then had every other week off. It was a huge cultural buy in and they let you know that up front. Full time pay. People who loved it were completely devoted to it, scheduled weddings etc around it. It was just a specific staffing culture that required a commitment to the “plan”.

            Reply
    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      And that can be used against you if the rest of the company has different political views–or simply prefers to keep politics out of the workplace. You don’t want your department to be know as the unaccepting one.

      Reply
    2. Dust Bunny*

      Agreed. And that’s from someone who would mostly fit in with this team.

      My department happens to largely share political views and differing but live-and-let-live religious views but . . . it’s not that we’re not outspoken about it as individuals, but it doesn’t come up much at work. We don’t work in politics or economics so there isn’t really any reason for us to be outspoken in this setting.

      But, honestly, I wouldn’t want to work here either because even when I mostly agree I don’t want to be hit on the head with it all the time. Current events are taxing enough as it is, and personalities that are forceful for the sake of being forceful get old pretty fast.

      Reply
      1. Let's Just Say*

        This. I used to work in abortion rights and even (especially) at that job, we didn’t have a lot of political conversations that were unrelated to our work. It’s exhausting, it’s distracting, and most people just don’t want to be in that type of environment. Also, in addition to being extremely politically liberal, I’m also an observant Jew, so I actually wouldn’t fit in with LW’s determinedly agnostic reports. Whether it happens by design or by neglect, if ideological purity is a condition of being successful in your department, you have a management problem.

        Reply
        1. Observer*

          Whether it happens by design or by neglect, if ideological purity is a condition of being successful in your department, you have a management problem.

          Exactly. And right now, the OP *is* actually risking that.

          Reply
        2. Drago Cucina*

          This is so well stated. Politics 100% of the time is draining. Especially if you have to navigate choppy political waters in the job. It’s also, IMO, impossible to be 100% ideologically pure. There will always be some type of difference of opinion. If people cannot handle that it’s a problem.

          Reply
        3. Aquawoman*

          And given that the editor is an anti-capitalist working for a brokerage firm, I think her street cred on demanding ideological purity is low.

          Reply
        4. Arvolin*

          Religion is a protected class in the US, so harassing someone for being a Jew (or a Muslim or a Buddhist or whatever) could cause legal trouble. A manager would need to shut it down fast.

          Reply
          1. Let's Just Say*

            That’s very true, but it doesn’t have to rise to the level of (provable) discrimination to make someone feel uncomfortable and generally signal that they’re “not a culture fit.”

            Reply
            1. TardyTardis*

              I worked for a very conservative firm and knew I had to stay out of the ‘wrong’ politics as long as I was working there, because it would have affected my ability to stay there. Let’s not have it from the other side, please.

              Reply
            2. pleaset cheap rolls*

              Yes. The OP’s team is over-the-top, but I have to say that having a group think culture around liberal views and hiring for that is not the same as having “culture fit” exclude people who have been marginalized from the field of work due to gender, race, sexuality or disabilitiy.

              It is, perhaps, more similar to being exclusive around class. Still not good.

              Reply
              1. Wintermute*

                You say that, but we’ve seen in other letters how it can go wrong fast– the letter about the person who relied on their van to care for disabled family and was being pressured to get rid of their vehicle in the interest of environmentalism comes to mind.

                Any extremism can become discriminatory because by definition extremism doesn’t allow for compromise with reality, and that can include compromises made for religious, medical, or a host of other protected reasons. It’s less LIKELY to, and if taken to a moderate degree isn’t nearly the same, but these people are not taking it to a moderate degree.

                Reply
                1. pleaset cheap rolls*

                  The word “can”” in the first sentence of both your paragraphs is worth thinking about. It’s carrying a lot.

              2. Observer*

                , but I have to say that having a group think culture around liberal views and hiring for that is not the same as having “culture fit” exclude people who have been marginalized from the field of work due to gender, race, sexuality or disabilitiy.

                Until those liberal views exclude one of those marginalized groups. @WinterMute gives a good example. I can think of a lot of other examples, such as marginalized religious groups, Jews, people who can’t afford to avoid “unapproved” vendors, etc.

                Reply
                1. Observer*

                  And to be clear, these are NOT theoretical examples. Not “might” or even “can” – the example that they mention is something that happened. The stuff I mentioned *has* happened.

        5. MsM*

          I’ve also worked with advocacy organizations (some of them spanning multiple issue areas) where talking politics is part of the job, and I was going to say the same thing. Constantly venting about stuff gets in the way of doing something about it. Plus it’s not great to get in the habit of just blurting out things that will give communications an ulcer if you say them at the wrong time in the wrong environment in front of the wrong people.

          Reply
        6. meyer lemon*

          Yes! And also, speaking as a leftist, this is a political group that is very prone to in-fighting. Even if everyone shares broad political leanings, it seems fairly implausible that there wouldn’t be a somewhat exhausting level of disagreement and nit-picking if everyone is up in each other’s political business to this extent.

          Reply
        7. sounds tiring*

          This! I work *in politics*, and we *still* don’t spend all our time venting about the latest terrible thing the other party has done, because that would burn us out really quickly and make it extremely difficult to do the (what I believe to be) important work we do for our community in any kind of sustainable way.

          Reply
      2. Dust Bunny*

        I’m healthcare/health education-ish (but no patient contact) and just statistically there are probably a few people on our staff who are not personally fully on board with vaccines and masking but nobody has protested because it’s understood that supporting both is part of our collective mission.

        It’s nice to be yourself at work but you don’t need to be 100% yourself at work. You just need to be your work self at work.

        Reply
      3. traffic_spiral*

        “honestly, I wouldn’t want to work here either because even when I mostly agree I don’t want to be hit on the head with it all the time.”

        Agreed. Just because I agree with your conclusion doesn’t mean I want to spend my working hours listening to you monologue about it.

        Reply
      4. Koalafied*

        The polling firm Morning Consult recently released a new poll that included two statements respondents were asked to agree with:

        * Employees should be allowed to freely express their political opinions at work. (52% agreed)

        * Personal political views do not belong in the workplace. (75% agreed)

        Meaning about 23% of respondents hold the position I describe as, “I believe you have the right to talk about politics at work, but I hope you have the decency not to.”

        Reply
    3. Malarkey01*

      Right? It’s also a matter of degrees. I’m fine saying we don’t want to hire people that are openly racist, sexist, homophobic/transphobic, but there’s a whole spectrum of political thought that is different but not hateful and it gets icky to want to cut that out of your office.

      Reply
    4. staceyizme*

      It’s a fast moving bogie that bites a lot of people on the butt! It’s never a good idea to let a relationship or an organizational culture become SO insular that the default norm is this extreme. It sounds like the LW is overdue to walking back some of the extremism in the space, but it should be about the dynamic, not about the views in question. So, instead of “can it with the political talk”, it should be “after one or two loops of ‘I say pahtaytoh, you say pahtahtoe…, we do indeed have to call the whole thing off'”. (The conversational track in question, not the new hire or the ability to express one’s views or whatever… just the endless argumentation.) That keeps the management about the dynamic and doesn’t attempt to police anyone’s perspective. Done consistently, it will help the team to turn a corner.

      Reply
    5. Rebekah*

      I wonder if it does meet the definition of discrimination though, especially if “aggressive agnostic” is actually code for “demeaning, mocking, and attacking religion/religious people.” I am a very deeply religious person, but I can’t remember the subject ever really coming up when I worked for a large finance firm back in the day (except for someone politely asking if that’s the reason I didn’t drink). I know for a fact that some of my coworkers belonged to alternate religions or were atheist, but it wasn’t an issue. In fact I was so uptight about being “professional” that I probably censored myself way more than necessary, not even wanting to mention that my after-work plans involved a prayer meeting for example. I would be extremely uncomfortable if I worked in a place where attacking religious people was a staple conversation topic however. Especially if the editor is the sort to solicit agreement from bystanders, where then you have to pick between denying what you believe or getting into a fight you don’t want to have with what sounds like a really scary person.

      Reply
      1. Chinook*

        “Aggressive agnostic” jumped out at me too. How would they react to a woman in hijab? Or someone with a crucifix around their neck? I have worked with all sorts of people of various political, cultural and religious backgrounds and the “aggressive agnostic” is a type that means I would feel unable to truthfully talk about my volunteer experience or what I did on the weekend without fear of repercussions.

        At the same time, if the OP warned me against the job or even refused to make an offer they otherwise would because they felt that my background is not a cultural fit and I later found out that it is because their boss is an “aggressive agnostic,” I would be wondering if should be reporting them to our provincial labour board for potential discrimination infractions.

        Reply
        1. Saraquill*

          I’m PoC. A number of aggressive agnostics I’ve been around use micro aggressive to blatantly harmful language to justify their beliefs, then get angry when I point out what they said. I would not feel safe with them as my coworkers.

          Reply
      2. Amethystmoon*

        I’m personally more agnostic than anything, but I don’t want to discuss it at work. There are plenty of web sites where one can debate and bash heads against people with opposing opinions, and do so anonymously. Plus there are still areas in the US where people get actively discriminated against for not being religious. Maybe not legally, but it happens. All they have to do is claim a different reason for not promoting/hiring you and who will have any evidence to the contrary?

        Also regarding politics I am more libertarian than anything else…I agree and disagree about equally with both sides. (Agree with liberal social policies but tend to agree with conservative economic policies.) But I still wouldn’t want to argue about it at work.

        Reply
        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I’m also personally more agnostic than anything, or maybe a secular humanist would be a better description. I would have a problem dealing with the aggression, even if I agreed with the views the aggressive person expressed.

          Reply
    6. Erin*

      Totally icky.

      Also +1 to not wanting to drone on about politics all day. How annoying.

      Also, how is this team anti-capitalist? Do they work for free?

      Reply
      1. Lenora Rose*

        This is not a clever gotcha.

        You can think the tenets of capitalism are terrible (I’m of the opinion capitalism works well when tightly regulated and bounded by human rights and environmental limitations, and with a robust social safety net, and terribly when it lacks those things) and still know that, since it isn’t going away today, you have to work with the system that exists to survive.

        Reply
        1. Pinto*

          One does need to work in a capitalist society to support oneself even if you are anti-capitalism. However, this person is a marketing professional who has chosen to work in the financial industry at a brokerage firm. So while her skills could presumably transfer to a multitude of industries, she’s chosen to embed herself in the belly of the beast she professes to despise. I think the criticism or more accurately pointing out of her hypocrisy is spot on.

          Reply
    7. SnappinTerrapin*

      Ugh.

      I have opinions on almost every topic. It’s amazing how much gets filtered when I ask the simple question: “How will expressing this opinion further the job I’ve been hired to do?”

      Even if I agree with the speaker, I don’t want to be distracted by excessive extraneous rants.

      Neither I nor my coworkers should be subjected to expression that crosses the line into ranting, for that matter, even before it reaches the point of insulting or unwelcoming a worker who simply holds a different, but reasonable, opinion.

      For that matter, I’d rather work with someone who remains silent about their unreasonable or immoral opinions, and doesn’t mistreat coworkers or customers, than to put up with a constant stream of lecturess from people who are determined to coerce others into agreeing with them, even if they share some or all of my opinions. That would be both annoying and exhausting.

      The manager needs to regain control over the mission of “getting the job done,” even if it means firing someone she likes and agrees with politically.

      There is a time and place for almost everything. Even political “think tanks” should focus on getting some of their work product into publishable form, rather than wasting most of their “work” day verbalizing their opinions and verbally dominating their colleagues.

      Reply
    8. Jake*

      Diversity is important. That includes political beliefs. Lots of research shows conservatives and liberals approach problem solving differently. That’s typically a desirable attribute for a team.

      Reply
      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        With the state of conservatism in my country (the US) and what now seems obvious about it (bigotry) is a key element) I really don’t want to be around conservatives. Never ever. I don’t care about the business benefits.
        Must avoid.

        YMMV.

        Reply
        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Yea in my line of work if you’re bigoted you got to really tuck that in to get along and be effective. Being somewhat evidence based is also good, but a conservative could compartmentalize and only believe conspiracy theories about non work items.

          Reply
      2. pleaset cheap rolls*

        With the state of conservatism in my country (the US) and what now seems obvious about it (bigotry is a key element) I really don’t want to be around conservatives. Never ever. I don’t care about the business benefits.
        Must avoid.

        YMMV.

        Reply
  2. Maggie*

    Someone higher on the food chain than your editor needs to discuss the concept of workplace professionalism with her.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The OP is higher on the food chain than the editor, and the talks (plural) haven’t worked — which is probably because the OP isn’t putting real teeth behind them, and needs to.

      Reply
      1. irene adler*

        Exactly. There’s been no actual consequences meted out to this employee for her actions/talk.
        OP states: “despite our many attempts at talking with her about this issue, she just can’t help herself.”
        Message received is clearly not the message being sent.
        How about upping the ante? Suspension, PIP, or discussion of termination should this continue.

        Reply
        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’ve got a rather sceptical viewpoint of anyone who says they ‘can’t help themselves’ doing an action that they’ve been told is problematic.

          I think they *can* but just don’t want to/don’t see the need to alter their behaviour. And yeah, if there’s no consequences for continuing to act poorly then heck, where’s the motivation?

          Reply
          1. Exhausted Trope*

            Yup. Just coming here to say exactly that. The “just can’t help herself” excuse is bull.
            (Now if it were “I just can’t help myself eating all the mint chip ice cream,” I’d be willing to accept it. :-)

            Reply
            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              (Aaand now I want mint chocolate ice cream!)

              There ARE things that I literally can’t help myself from doing: vocalising high pain levels (small groans, being disabled sucks), sneezing and having runny eyes during summer, being about a foot and a half taller than every other woman in the office.. things that just *are*.

              But even on my worst mental days (luckily the schizophrenia doesn’t flare often), if you tell me to stop ranting about literally anything because it’s making everyone else in the office feel uncomfortable then yeah, I can still decide to stop.

              Reply
            2. LifeBeforeCorona*

              They can help themselves, they choose not to. It’s like anti-maskers who get on planes and make their stand after the plane is filled and taxiing for take-off. If you want to make your point, make it back at the check-in counter not when you are inconveniencing the maximum number of people.

              Reply
          2. Elenna*

            Yes. Something tells me that if her job was on the line, she’d be a lot more able to help herself…

            Reply
          3. The Original K.*

            Bingo. I bet she could help herself if her options were “help herself” or “lose her job.”

            Reply
            1. Working Hypothesis*

              And frankly, those *should* be the choices. I say this as someone who probably agrees with this editor about almost every political topic she discusses… but there is behavior which is just not appropriate at work, and she’s way into that range. It’s not about what her opinions are, it’s about how and where she’s expressing them, especially to a captive audience.

              Reply
              1. Artemesia*

                This. One might excuse the occasional enthusiastic statement — emphasis on occasional as ‘couldn’t help herself’ but since it is her SOP — just no. Time for a conversation that goes: ‘this can’t go on — if you cannot keep contentious political conversation out of the workplace then we will have to let you go.’ With a formal PIP if after this conversation, she does it again.

                Reply
            2. staceyizme*

              To be fair, it’s not been a “show stopper” until now. So- if she stops, all good. But I don’t think that you can begin with “do this ONCE more and you’re OUT” when it’s been allowed to go on for so long. In fact, a managerial mea culpa is in order here, too. “You know, I should have reminded you about this and followed up. I didn’t. But now we’re in a position where change isn’t optional. It’s necessary.” Then follow up with Alison’s classic “what I need from you is because … can you commit to doing that”?

              Reply
              1. Working Hypothesis*

                I think that’s fair. The first conversation needs to be, “I really should have stopped you before this, but since we can’t go back in time, it’s on both of us to make sure it stops now.”

                If that gets ignored, the second conversation is, “No, really. I am NOT kidding about this. I cannot allow this to happen anymore, and I won’t. I don’t want to fire you, but I will if you don’t stop.”

                Reply
          4. Falling Diphthong*

            This right here. I would bet some serious money that she is able to “help herself” any time she feels the cost is high–if you’re an adult who’s held down a job for some time, you’re able to function in society. Most people who “can’t help themselves” are perfectly capable of helping themselves to not jeopardize anything they, themselves, truly want.

            Reply
            1. EventPlannerGal*

              Agreed – I mean, she hasn’t just held down any job, she’s held down a job for what sounds like a long period of time, during the Trump presidency, at a brokerage firm (of all things!) in a very conservative area. There is absolutely no way that she has not had to regularly deal with people with opposing views, and if she was going all fire and brimstone on them every single time she wouldn’t still have this job. If she managed to land and keep this specific job, of all jobs, then she absolutely can control herself.

              Reply
          5. pancakes*

            Yes! I probably share most of the editor’s views but I wouldn’t want to work with someone who feels they “can’t help themselves” from talking about their views relentlessly and/or overly-emotionally.

            Reply
            1. The Rural Juror*

              I used to work for a boss in a male-dominated company who would say, “We can’t help it. We’re just men.” whenever I would say things about how the company needed to stay better organized, be better about answering emails, etc. That answer was always met with this face -_-

              “I can’t help myself.” is NEVER an acceptable answer. I found a new job pretty quickly!

              Reply
          6. Your Local Password Resetter*

            And if she really can’t help herself, then she’s not fit for the job. Proffesional behaviour is a basic requirement for almost any job.

            Reply
          7. MassMatt*

            That “can’t help herself” wording reminded me of a letter with a coworker at some sort of nonprofit for children (details escape me) who would continue to stroke her colleagues and kids in the program despite being told to stop (because creepy!). Shudder!

            The editor is a blowhard, even people more or less aligned on the political spectrum will no doubt be subjected to many rants and diatribes. What we have here is not a workplace so much as a Jacobins club. Few people want to come to work to hear angry denunciations and rants.

            LW needs to grab this bull by the horns and deal with this editor before she sets up a guillotine. IMO she is unlikely to change and I’d start looking for a replacement, but whatever you do it needs to be dramatically more drastic than what you’ve done so far which has been ineffective.

            Reply
            1. RVA Cat*

              The editor is a jerk and won’t change. That has nothing to do with her political opinions and everything to do with her need to dominate others, as the “get away with” phrasing makes clear. She sounds like a mirror image of obnoxious conservatives who put “owning the libs” above all else.

              Reply
        2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          I came here to say exactly that. For once, I don’t think Alison was strong enough in her response. I was a little surprised she didn’t suggest this. Well, she did but it was very subtle.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That’s what my ending was saying — the OP may need to pick between keeping the editor and not being able to hire new people, or firing the editor. She should pick firing the editor unless the advice earlier in that last paragraph solves things.

            Reply
            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              It definitely reminds me of that famous letter you got years ago about the person who’d created a very cliquey team and the company that decided to solve the problem by getting rid of the lot of them.

              Reply
                1. Spencer Hastings*

                  I think it’s the one called “is the work environment I’ve created on my team too exclusive?”

                2. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  As Spicy Tuna posted, but the bit about the team being fired as a result was in the update.

                3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

                  make sure to read the comments too, and there are several updates, at least two. Read them, because only in the last one does the LW begin to show some awareness that she was the problem.

                4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Another classic moment was when the manager said “but Alison, I thought you’d be on my side because we’re both managers”!

              1. MsClaw*

                Augh, yes, I’m having no luck trying to find that one but I do vaguely remember it. It was astonishing.

                Reply
        3. TRexx*

          It’s not fair to let her continue to rant at work after several talks. Time to consider terminating before this escalates into something way more messy and time consuming to clean up.

          Reply
      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I’m really concerned that the OP says the editor “can’t help herself.” OP, she can help herself. She is as capable of behaving in a professional manner and listening to her boss as anyone else. If she is not able to do that, she needs help from a professional. But odds are, she can help herself and she sees no need because she has reason to believe that you are not going to do anything about it.

        Reply
      3. Boo Radley*

        How would you go about putting teeth behind them? What guidelines would you give to Editor? It would seem difficult to give constructive guidelines about what and how to talk about political topics especially if as you’ve said above, a blanket ban probably isn’t appropriate.

        Reply
        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          She sounds like someone who rants. I think the OP can tell her she needs to cool it with the political ranting, and if she cannot discuss any political issues with a cool head, then she needs to simply avoid discussing it at all at work and with coworkers. OP also needs to take action swiftly and firmly if she starts fighting with the new hire, tell her to cut it out or she will be written up, and advise the editor that she will be monitored closely to ensure she is not mistreating/retaliating against/ refusing to cooperatively work with the new hire because of political disagreements.

          Reply
          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I would go further than this and say that she needs to stop discussing politics at all except on break and only then if she checks first with the other people in the room that they’re okay with the topic. Sometimes people do not want to have to deal with political subjects, and they shouldn’t be forced to at the office. If it’s during work time (not on break), the subject shouldn’t come up because everyone should be working then. If it comes up on break, it should only be with consent.

            Reply
            1. JSPA*

              As the question isn’t, “is sexism objectively bad” [yes] or, “is reverse discrimination a systemic problem” [no] but rather, “is there a way to run a professional workplace in a way that’s fair to all,”

              let’s try reversing the department, company and regional political skew, and see how that feels.

              Deeply blue state. Deeply liberal company. One “red” department. Where at any moment, a senior person–whose job involves judging and sending back the work of others– may go into a deeply personalized political rant, for what they (and their department mates, save perhaps the new person) believe are good and true and justified reasons.

              Would that perhaps lead to, say, allegations of gender – based or race- based harassment?

              Remembering that hostile environment laws do not pre- define anything about systemic isms, nor about privilege, nor about power dynamics separate from those of the workplace… does nobody see a similar level of risk, here? The likelihood that “hostile in the vernacular sense” will become “hostile in the legal sense” should kick OP’s laissez-faire, “but we all kind of agree so is it really something I need to clamp down on” attitude into a different gear.

              I’d suggest “reverse.”

              The world isn’t short on places to vent.

              Reply
    2. Person from the Resume*

      I’m thinking the problem is not the new guy, but the editor.

      she is still on fire and would rather die on whatever hill she’s battling that day than let someone (especially a new guy) get away with saying something she doesn’t agree with. It’s exhausting, to be honest. And despite our many attempts at talking with her about this issue, she just can’t help herself.

      A manager should not throw up her hands and say “employee can’t help themselves.” Or “that’s just how employee is and they aren’t going to change.” A manager needs to manage and if the editor doesn’t change, there needs to be consequences up to being fired because she’s making work and exhausting place and has high potential to drive people who do not agree with her politically off.

      Unfortunately the LW/manager is not even considering it as an option when that should the person that gets a talking to.

      Reply
      1. Nicotene*

        Yeah I’d probably a) refer this editor to EAP b) describe exactly the behavior you need c) tell them they must absolutely stop and what the consequences will be if they don’t. Not getting them to take it out on the new employee (or feel like it was fine in the past and the new employee is what changed) will be harder, so I’d address that explicitly.

        Reply
        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, I also take issue with the part where it sounds like OP has let her team develop into a group therapy/support group for liberal team members who were traumatized by the last administration. While I agree that the nation has faced a lot of trauma in the past several years, and it is good for employers to provide support for employees through difficult times, it should not be a therapy/support group. OP should have referred her team members to EAP before this dynamic developed. Because the sudden change of course OP needs to take to correct this will now also be triggering and traumatic for the editor and possibly the other team members because their support system will suddenly be torn down. It needs to be torn down. It should never have existed in this context. But now it has been established for years and so the process of shutting it down will likely result in some very emotional and angry reactions.

          Reply
      2. Delta Delta*

        I worked for a manager like this. The Office Bully was just that – an office bully. People went to manager with specific complaints and his response was, “go work it out with Bully.” Manager never once talked to Bully about her behavior. I’ve been gone from that hellscape for about 5 years, and since I’ve been gone the entire staff except Manager and Bully has fully turned over twice. Manager wrings his hands and says he can’t figure out the problem.

        Reply
        1. First librarian in space*

          Did you and I work in the same place? :-) This completely. I was ordered to have lunch once a week with my bully. WTF? Really? The best day of my life is the day I left for another job in a completely different (and wonderful environment). They are both still there, and probably still making people miserable!

          Reply
          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I too was ordered to have lunch with my bully, the boss thought we needed to bond. No, I needed him to keep out of my hair and not insult the people I rely on to send work to me. But he was the boss’s friend so I wasn’t given the opportunity to say that.
            (Not for long though. They fell out over something or other and the bully took the boss to court. He lied through his teeth and won his case. It was weird, I would normally be cheering a worker on that took such a jerk of a boss to court, but he was taken to court by the one worker who was even more of a jerk.)

            Reply
      3. it_guy*

        I worked with a really awful employee that my boss wouldn’t fire because it would take to long to replace him and that’s just the way he is. It wasn’t until he almost started a fist fight that he was removed.

        LW – _YOU_ have the control over the employee, not the other way around.

        Reply
      4. Emily*

        Not just people who don’t agree with her! I just don’t want to discuss politics at work that much. I work in international ed at a university and you better bet the last four years have affected our work. We STILL don’t discuss politics this much, and we certainly don’t rant about it.

        Reply
    3. The Starsong Princess*

      Agreed. My whole company has a no political talk policy. Our US business is fairly liberal but in a conservative state so it is a good thing. As a leader, I shut it down whenever I hear it – I just say”no political talk!” It works pretty well. I prefer not to know the affiliations of the people I work with.

      Reply
  3. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

    Anyway, I’d speak to this guy honestly about the dynamic you’ve allowed to develop on your team and give him a chance to back out of the offer.

    (trying to respond to this without rolling my eyes at the idea of poor, persecuted conservative men was …. a mood :( :( :( They should feel unwelcome in more spaces)

    Reply
    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      But that’s part of the problem. We don’t know if he feels persecuted. We don’t even know how conservative he or she may be. There’s a huge spectrum of conservative thought. He may be far more open-minded than the current team, for all we know (which we don’t). But if he feels continually attacked–which appears to be OP’s fear–then he will be treated differently by the team, and that is a problem.

      Reply
      1. Spicy Tuna*

        I agree with you 90%, but if the OP was able to glean his conservative affiliation from his Facebook profile…I have to assume he’s not on the more open-minded side of it. But that may just be my experience with the crowd that posts political stuff on FB to begin with.

        Reply
        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          Fair enough, but bear in mind that this department may be on a political extreme. Most people I know believe in fixing income inequality, recognize that people who are not of European descent are treated inequitably, and support marriage for all…but are also happy to be “capitalists”. Would they be accepted into this group?

          The point is that the culture of this group is unaccepting and exhausting, to the point the business is negatively impacted. No business can survive that for long.

          Reply
    2. High Score!*

      No worries, conservatives are feeling unwelcome most places these days.
      BUT to Alison’s point, it sounds like if agree with most of what her team says but I’d hate listening to it all day long. Having to work in that environment would have me looking at other opportunities.

      Reply
      1. High Score!*

        Edit *it sounds like I’d agree with most of what her team says but I’d hate listening to it all day long

        Reply
    3. Moolissa*

      As a woman who isn’t conservative I’m trying to respond to your post without rolling my eyes. I expect the comments would be very different if the politics were reversed. But hey only one side is the right side and everyone else is wrong and not welcome.

      Reply
    4. Roscoe*

      I think that is a really bad way of looking at it. We know nothing about this guy except that he is probably conservative. But assuming that just because someone is liberal that it makes them “right” isn’t a great way to be either. We have 0 evidence that the new hire guy would behave unprofessionally, despite his political leanings. We have plenty of evidence that the editor DOES behave unprofessionally.

      Reply
    5. Lucy*

      As a woman who holds mostly conservative/republican political views, don’t worry, I feel unwelcome in many spaces these days. I certainly would never express my views in any sort of public setting, including work.

      But back to the OP, I would want a warning before starting a job in a team like you’re describing. I have many liberal friends and coworkers, and I have no problem with people with different political views than me, but I do prefer not to have to listen to rants all day about how my political views are evil, racist, and bigoted.

      Reply
  4. High Score!*

    If you find Die On The Hill employee exhausting, imagine how others feel, other who have to work with her and might not feel safe crossing her by disagreeing or by asking you to shut down political conversations.

    Reply
    1. dawbs*

      yup.
      There can be all sorts of assumptions being made on how much people agree because I don’t want to argue with Karen, even when Karen is being ridiculous. Especially since I need Karen to cover for me next Saturday and the disagreement will start an exhausting series of mini lectures every time I pick up a TPS report.

      (If you look at my resume and judge from my alma mater and a few of my jobs, folks come back from that thinking they know my political views. They’re sorely mistaken (I’ve grown and moved on) and it’s been problematic a few times when people are looking for ‘culture fit’. Because I’m a STEM educator who will fit into a culture that values STEM education and a lot of other things. But maybe not every other thing you’d put in that stereotype basket)

      Reply
      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yes, I have a coworker whose resume would make you think they would be a poor “culture fit” at our job. I don’t know anything beyond what I’ve seen on the resume, but they fit in great! I have no idea if they ever roll their eyes at what people are saying, or if they have moved on, or if they rolled their eyes at the previous job. No idea! Because we are mostly professional even in casual conversations. I’m not saying political topics don’t ever come up, but we generally keep it light and keep it moving.

        Reply
    2. DiscoUkraine!*

      Agreed. Die On The Hill can have all the opinions and rants she wants – off the clock.
      Having encountered this breed of employee as a new-hire myself (many years ago), everyone around her says “oh that’s just how she is” which is their way of telling newbies that no one is going to do anything about this person’s aggressive lack of self awareness. Disagreeing with them will most likely provoke a tantrum and a round of trash-talking behind the newbie’s back.

      Reply
      1. Cat Tree*

        Yes, I cringed so hard at the claim that she just can’t help herself. That reasoning has been used to excuse much worse behavior and I have a visceral reaction to it. She presumably manages other social encounters without ranting (grocery shopping, holidays with relatives) so she can moderate her behavior if she chooses to.

        I’m super duper liberal and I would be exhausted by her rants even though I agree with them. She’s like the live equivalent of my friend who is a Facebook ranter, except I can just scroll past his stuff or stop following him. It’s so much worse in person.

        Reply
        1. StressedButOkay*

          Right? She ‘just can’t help herself’ is a poor excuse – she’s an adult, she can clamp down on heated debates at work. As a fellow liberal, I’d ALSO be exhausted by this woman. I’m not at work to rant about politics, I’m there to work.

          And I’m willing to bet politics aren’t the only things she’s not willing to let go of. She sounds exhausting.

          Reply
      2. XF1013*

        Definitely. Politics isn’t the issue here. The true problem is a missing stair and the manager tolerating her.

        OP, you have the power to shut down Die On The Hill’s behavior. Stop asking her; it’s time to make no more political talk a condition of her employment. By all means do it for the whole team too, but she sounds like the main instigator. Get buy-in from HR & senior management so you won’t be undermined if she complains to them or they try to block you firing her. She will hate your decision and it will be a difficult conversation, but it’s long overdue. Even if she gets on board, be prepared for her to test the boundaries of what’s acceptable, and for her attitude to suffer.

        Instead of shifting the burden of this problem onto the new guy, look at his hiring as an opportunity to finally solve this problem.

        Good luck! I hope to read a positive update in the future.

        Reply
        1. Kate*

          +1 for Missing Stair.

          Yep, the problem is that the manager isn’t managing. I don’t want to go on long political rants with anyone I work with EVEN IF I AGREE WITH THEM. I’m there to do my job, get paid, and go home.

          This team sounds like an exhausting environment to work in, for everyone, and yet manager has come to think this is normal.

          Reply
          1. RVA Cat*

            It’s not about political talk. It’s about angry ranting and workplace bullying. Hill to Die On is being an ass.

            Reply
    3. anonymouse*

      This.
      OP writes she doesn’t want an “awkward team dynamic where people feel like they can’t say what they think”
      I believe OP needs to clarify this, “awkward team dynamic where people feel like they can’t say what they think ABOUT WORK.”
      Your staff should be able to share thoughts and opinions about WORK. Whether they can talk politics, music or sports is something else.
      And then it goes on to, the editor raining hellfire.
      I don’t think this is just about politics, either.
      Please take Alison’s advise and observe staff interactions with the editor. Is everyone stepping carefully, acting cautious, putting up with rants. Don’t just ask, watch. You’ll see if they go near her the way one reaches out to a metal door knob in winter – slowly and with dread.
      Or do they go over gleefully and egg her on? Do they encourage this rowdy rant in each other?
      That isn’t talking about thoughts, that’s chaos.

      Reply
      1. EPLawyer*

        I interpreted that as “Editor must be able to talk about whatever she wants and everyone else just needs to accept it.” Not one word about anyone else being able to say what they think to editor.

        You hit it right anonymouse, they need to dial it back to work talk and everything else needs to take a backseat — not matter how strongly you feel. You have outlets for non work issues OUTSIDE OF WORK.

        Reply
      2. Bagpuss*

        This.
        I think you need to talk to the whole team now, before the new guy starts, and lay out that you are not seeking to stifle debate but that the level and vehemence of some of the discussions have got to be excessive for a work environment and are exhausting and starting to impact on work, so everyone needs to dial back a bit in working hour.

        Stress that you understand that these are subjects on which they, and indeed you, and people in general, have strong views about but that they need to dial back on how much they are discussed, and how strongly the views are expressed, during working hours and in the office.
        Db’t make it about making the new guy uncomfortable – be clear that you are finding it exhausting and that you are observing, as the manager, that it is affecting performance because of the time and energy it’s taking up, and that moving forward, it needs to stop.

        You can also explicitly say that you welcome feedback and debate about work-related issues and that you would be having the same conversation with them if it were another subject which was creating such constant, high octane discussions.

        depending on the relationship you have with the team you might even be honest and say that you should have shut it down sooner and recognise that your own sympathy with many of the positions discussed meant you were slower than you should have been to look at it as a work issue rather than a person views issues, and that you absolutely support their rights to express and debate their opinions, but need them to focus on their work in work time, and debate issues in their own time when they are off the clock.

        Reply
        1. anonymouse*

          “Don’t make it about making the new guy uncomfortable – be clear that you are finding it exhausting and that you are observing, as the manager, that it is affecting performance because of the time and energy it’s taking up, and that moving forward, it needs to stop.”
          Very much this. OP, please work through language, hit up Alison again so that hiring this guy =/= “thought police action”

          Reply
        2. Sara without an H*

          These are all excellent points. OP, don’t put the onus on the “new guy” — that will just make Brunhilda the Editor turn him into a target. And by all means, own your complicity in letting the situation get so far out of hand.

          Reply
    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I think I’d probably agree with her on most things…BUT I wouldn’t want to work with her. I’d just not like the atmosphere of someone who seems 100% on the path to battle at all times.

      Reply
      1. CoveredInBees*

        I’ve worked with someone like this and it was, indeed, awful. I agreed with most of her views but it was just so exhausting to be around. We were at an anti-poverty organization that also did some lobbying, so talking politics wasn’t wholly inappropriate, but her constant barrages (and vitriol) were too much in a job that was already emotionally taxing.

        Reply
        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I can well imagine thinking ‘I got enough issues dealing with my own emotions without you spreading yours all over me 24/7’. Ye gods mate, hope you didn’t have to deal with her for long?

          Reply
          1. Uranus Wars*

            I have a friend like Bees ex-coworker , who, even though we are on the same side of most issues, jumps to hatred and vitriol fast (but not always predictably). I have thought this so many times when she goes on a rant. Like “I’m processing enough of my own shit, can you just not cover me in yours, too?”

            Reply
      2. Bagpuss*

        Me too.
        I used to know someone like this and while I didn’t work with her, it was the main reason I stopped socialising with her, because she was utterly exhausting – the final straw for me was an evening out to celebrate a mutual friend’s birthday , where she explained loudly and at length that she had donated to her pet cause instead of buying a gift for birthday girl (which, fine, gifts were not expected or compulsory, but either way a 20 minute lecture is not appropriate for a birthday party specially if it is not your birthday) , and things went rapidly downhill from there.

        Reply
      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Hard same. I come to work to exchange my labor that (hopefully) helps my employer’s bottom line, for a paycheck. At the end of the day I am all about the paycheck. Lively political debates is something I occasionally have with my own friends on my own time if I feel so inclined. not something I have to be my coworker’s captive audience for, because I need this job and she will fly off the handle if I try to get the debating to stop.

        Reply
      4. Dark Macadamia*

        Yep. I feel strongly about my political beliefs but this workplace would make me miserable. They might not be my best friend but I’d much rather have a conservative coworker who keeps their opinions out of the office than listen to constant ranting from someone I technically agree with. And what if the new hire is equally combative? They’re going to be a nightmare together lol

        Reply
    5. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. And if her behavior is detrimental to the team’s growth (like being off putting to new hires), then it needs to be reined in, pronto. I realize she has Opinions and is willing to voice them. But this is not her living room. It’s an office. I would be annoyed to listen to her rants all day and I’d probably agree with her, but be worried about when I didn’t. So not only should this guy get a head’s up, the team culture needs to be brought down a notch. Sometimes when a team grows you have to figure out new ways to interact to include new people. She can take her rants to lunch instead, for example.

      Reply
    6. Beth*

      Yup. I wouldn’t want to work with her, and I AM a left-wing, anticapitalist, agnostic, feminist woman. She sounds utterly exhausting, and while I’d probably agree with most or all of the content of what she was saying, I’d find it very emotionally difficult to have work be a space where the latest political drama was constantly being rehashed and pulled back up again. After all, a lot of the big political issues (abortion, gay rights, gender equality, economic policy, healthcare, etc.) have direct impact on my safety and ability to live a decent life; it’s not just a debate topic to me, and I really don’t want to spend all my work hours dwelling on all the ways that politicians are currently trying to deny me and my communities a baseline decent living. I have other, more productive spaces for thinking about that.

      Reply
      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I hope LW sees this comment. If this employee is ranting about a topic that affects a coworker personally, that’s a potentially traumatic thing to be exposed to repeatedly and unexpectedly at work.

        Reply
      2. Metadata minion*

        Same here (well, nonbinary and Jewish, but the same political leanings) — I appreciate a workplace where I can say “I’m having trouble focusing because of [EVENT]” and not have people judge me, and occasional political discussions over lunch are good, but when I’m at work, I want to focus on that and not discuss politics except where they intersect with work.

        Reply
    7. Lacey*

      Yes! I hate having political conversations at work, even when I agree with people on a lot of things, there will always be something we super disagree on. I can’t imagine trying to avoid the topic with someone like this. It would be miserable!

      Reply
      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        there will always be something we super disagree on

        Yes, so much this.

        Want to add, I get what was initially behind this – in the terrible times that the last 4 years were, in a very religious/conservative state, creating a small safe space where you and your teammates can be yourselves without fear of repercussions probably felt like a good idea at the time. But in a workplace, that has to bring new hires in, it was never meant to work long-term.

        Reply
    8. turquoisecow*

      Yeah, it sounds like mild disagreement or attempts to change the subject would just enrage her, so I would be inclined to just put my head down and say nothing.

      I get tired of political talk quickly. I don’t work in a political field for a reason, so if I was going to work at a nonpolitical, nongovernmental job every day and hearing this lively discussion, I’d be exhausted even if I agreed with it.

      Reply
    9. Miller_admin*

      You have the normal cupcake of work stress & work relationships, etc., topped with hot political frosting. Most of us would choose to skip on the frosting in this case.

      Reply
  5. Gwen Soul*

    Appreciate the call out that even if you agree it can be too much. I left my knitting group even though we agreed politically in general I didn’t want to hear about it every gathering and they got in such an echo chamber they actively tried to chase off anyone who had a different opinion, even if it was still in line just less extreme.

    Reply
    1. the cat's ass*

      Same w/my book club-it got to be too much, even though I agreed with them (most of the time)!

      Reply
      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        My book club actually got me through 2016-19 (not 20, because we did not have in-person book club in 2020) with our late-night political chats that we used to have after we’d finish discussing the book. We live in a state that has rapidly gone from purple to red in the recent years, and most of our neighborhoods, workplaces, families, and even friend groups and hobby groups were conservative enough that on some months, that book-club political chat was our only way to check in and ascertain that we were not alone, that there were other people in our metro area who stood with us. Yes it was an echo chamber, but a much needed one. Does not mean that I would’ve enjoyed the same echo chamber 40-45 hours/week at my workplace, but an hour once a month was very helpful to me.

        Reply
    2. Joielle*

      Yeah, I had to limit my time with my spouse’s family around the election. They’re all very liberal and so am I, but we don’t need to spend all our time yelling about how terrible things are. It doesn’t help.

      (Plus they only ever get as far as yelling – actually doing something about it would require effort, so they don’t. As a person spending a lot of time and money on mutual aid, it was infuriating. Just having strong and loud opinions doesn’t absolve you of, you know, actually participating.)

      Reply
      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        I appreciate this take so much! Yes to all you’ve said.

        Also… This isn’t exactly a good thing, but sometimes I get folks to stop ranting by inviting them to *do* something about the problem.

        For example, do they want me to send them my mutual aid group’s mailing list? If they want to talk but not take action, they’ll often change the subject at that point.

        Reply
      2. llamaswithouthats*

        Yep. This falls into a general pattern I’ve observed of “empty vessels make the most noise”. People who spend a lot of their energy ranting loudly likely aren’t using it in other, more useful, ways.

        Reply
      3. Working Hypothesis*

        Absolutely this!! I dropped off Facebook because it was leaving me exhausted and in literal physical pain just from the extent of the rants. These were my friends and allies; I agreed with nearly every rant. But the simple fact of having nonstop ranting going on around me was way too much… and that was in text form, on an online site I could leave whenever I wanted to. The idea of having to hear it at work all the time is enough to make me cringe.

        Reply
        1. nonegiven*

          IDK if it still works but there used to be a thing on Facebook where you could snooze a person for 30 days. I had to snooze a cousin a couple of times.

          Reply
          1. Working Hypothesis*

            The problem is, I would’ve had to snooze my entire feed. It wasn’t just that a few individual people were talking nonstop politics; it was that I had been in an echo chamber of nonstop politics for so long that the algorithm had learned to feed me nonstop politics and nothing else. My own doing, but the only real thing I could do about it was to walk away. I don’t mind, really; it has been a great time saver! :)

            Reply
        2. SnappinTerrapin*

          There are some political issues I see as “principles,” but I strongly believe political agendas should be based on pragmatic approaches to specific problems at specific times and under specific circumstances. The same policies applied to different circumstances could well be disastrous, no matter how helpful they are in one moment.

          That means I can agree with people across the political spectrum, depending on the circumstances and the policies. I enjoy collegial conversations about the pros and cons of different approaches under differing circumstances. In our current environment, that is hard to achieve. Both conservatives and liberals in my circles have become so obnoxious that I have avoided FussBook for several months. I never saw the point in Twitter; it seemed designed for sharp barbs, rather than nuanced conversations.

          But people engaging in diatribes at work are interfering with their colleagues’ attempts to earn their pay by helping their employer meet their customers’ needs.

          LW needs to start earning her pay by insisting that her editor stop undermining the mission and start focusing on the work they are being paid to accomplish.

          If the editor would prefer to work someplace where lecturing others on politics is the core of the job, it would be a kindness to encourage her to polish her resume.

          Reply
      4. Miss V*

        That second paragraph, agree 1000x.

        I identify as a socialist. I believe we should have UBI, free housing for the homeless, and free healthcare. And I will do everything I can to vote for politicians who also support one or all of those things.

        But those politicians are few and far between, and saying loudly I support a basic income doesn’t actually help the people who need it. Volunteering with an organization that helps find transitional housing for homeless people does help. It’s not enough, it doesn’t solve the problem, and in a perfect world people would have enough support programs like this would be obsolete. But we do not live in a perfect world, so often the better use of energy is working to help fix the one we do have instead of tweeting about how things should be.

        Reply
    3. On Fire*

      Definitely. My professional org had a zoom social a while back, and I was exhausted by the end of it, because literally all we talked about was Covid. We’ve been saturated with Covid for over a year — let’s talk about a new book, or our gardens, or anything else. This is the same situation.

      Reply
    4. Mister T*

      Same. It’s freaky to me how much we end up just parroting whatever the left wing talking points du jour are. Like, holy moly, you are literally just regurgitating something you read on twitter.

      Reply
    5. cmcinnyc*

      My workplace has specific norms about not discussing politics in the office. Of course people do, but knowing that we’re more or less out of line when we do makes the discussions short, to the point, and usually one-on-one versus group rant style. It’s group rant that gets out of hand and exhausting, in my experience. I hated the last 4 years with a fiery passion but if I’d let myself vent that all day, every day, to everyone…whew…

      I would hate working with this editor. I would bet there’s at best a love/hate going on with her in most of the team’s minds.

      Reply
    6. Oh No She Di'int*

      Part of the problem with echo chambers is that most people agree with a certain political orthodoxy on most things, but NOBODY agrees with the political orthodoxy on EVERYTHING. So everybody ends up running to the most extreme version of the orthodoxy because you can’t really be sure if anyone else will agree with you on that one little issue where you differ from the group’s norm. Safer to just parrot the most extreme version of everything; that way nobody can doubt your wokeness (or your conservative credentials). Internally policing those opinions can be exhausting.

      Reply
    7. Threeve*

      It’s also counterproductive. I am all for going green, but when I had a coworker who ranted about sustainability and recycling constantly, she honestly just made me want to switch to styrofoam and single-use coffee pods.

      Reply
      1. Jaybeetee*

        This reminds me of a few letters here from that gardcire environmentalist who was getting reprimanded and alienating their colleagues over recycling. The person couldn’t seem to recognize any nuance between “24/7 crusade” and “complete apathy about the state of the planet.” Wasn’t good for them or anyone around them.

        Reply
        1. No thank you*

          Was that the “I’m in trouble for re-sorting a coworker’s trash — and I’m enraged” LW? I remember the. I hope they got help. I’ll post links in the next comment for moderation.

          Reply
          1. Jaybeetee*

            Yes, this person! And I meant to write “hardcore” above – no idea what autocorrect did there.

            Reply
    8. Maggie*

      Yeah this sounds absolutely miserable to be around even if I agree with them! (Which I probably would for many things).

      Reply
    9. Over It*

      Agreed. I am a liberal person. The majority of people I have muted on social media have generally similar political views to mine, but I find their incessant posting exhausting. Fortunately I’m not stuck in an office with them!

      Reply
    10. Eden*

      For sure. From the short description of That Coworker I probably align with her on many issues, and yet I absolutely don’t want to get into that kind of stuff at work at all and would find it extremely off-putting and exhausting. As Alison says, you’re not just turning off people who disagree with the views, but plenty of people who just don’t want work to be all about that.

      Reply
    11. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I wouldn’t want to work in a very conservative office because I find it nearly impossible to be closeted at work (I am married to a woman- imagine never having small talk or mentioning you did something with your spouse over the weekend).

      At the same time, I also feel uncomfortable in very vocal leftist spaces and workplaces. While liberal, I am not always totally “right” on current issues and hold one or two more fringe positions that aren’t leftist, though I believe in racial and LGBT equity. My anxiety also makes me worry a lot about if I will be ostracized if “wrong.”

      Reply
  6. CatLady*

    I can say from experience that this kind of environment is exhausting even if you agree with the opinions being expressed. There can be a lot of pressure to have exactly the “correct” take on current events and be up to date on the news at all times. It’s a lot for a workplace that doesn’t have anything to do with government/media/politics/etc.

    Reply
    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Testify! I know people like this. Even if I agree with them across the board, they are bores. Let’s talk about sports, instead.

      Reply
      1. Canadian Yankee*

        Don’t assume interest in sports is universal! I barely know which local team plays hockeyball or basketfoot or macramé or whatever. I did manage to find fellow co-workers who were very invested in the Eurovision Song Contest, on the other hand (the Ukrainian entry should have won!).

        Reply
        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I was using “sports” to stand in for “some neutral topic.” There is no neutral topic that is universally interesting. A basic function of being an adult is figuring out who is and is not interested in whatever you are interested in. Have a selection to choose from and cycle through them to find something to talk about. In case of extreme necessity, there is always the weather. That is good for one or two minutes, at which point the social necessities have been addressed and we can go about the rest of our day.

          Reply
          1. Threeve*

            I sometimes use (literally) “so….how about that sportsball team?” as an unsubtle, tongue-in-cheek request to change the conversation topic.

            Reply
            1. Metadata minion*

              Among my friends group in college, the go-to was “So, how about those trees we’ve been having?”

              Reply
          2. SnappinTerrapin*

            In many States, the sports rivalries are as bad as the political vitriol.

            But it’s usually easier to change the subject when it gets out of hand. Not always, but usually.

            Reply
        2. Student Affairs Sally*

          This! The last school I worked at was a well-known athletics school for football and (especially) basketball. At every single work-social event, all anyone wanted to talk about was our team and college sports in general. I legitimately could not care less about sports and never had anything to contribute to the conversation. It was incredibly tiresome and made me dread what should have been welcome opportunities to get away from my desk and interact with my colleagues.

          Reply
    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I completely agree! I would rather not talk politics at work at all for just that reason. And if I have to work closely with someone, I actively don’t want to know their political stance because I don’t want my professional opinion of them to change based on their political views

      Reply
    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I work for a government agency & would find it exhausting! Generally, political discussions that aren’t relevant to our work are very circumspect. I know the politics of the people who I see outside of work, but otherwise it’s just guessing. (Most who do this work tend to be less conservative, though. And if you aren’t on board with disability rights or racial equity in health care, nobody wants to hear about it.)

      Reply
      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Agree 100%!

        Working for a government agency, in a field rather closely tied up in local politics and less-closely connected to some big federal election speaking point issues. While I don’t mind knowing and debating my coworkers perspectives on issues that directly affect our work, dealing with all politics all the time is exhausting. Even if I agree with someone, I don’t want to be immersed in such emotionally loaded conversation all the time!

        Plus, the kind of person who can’t hold their tongue about politics at work and unleashes “hellfire” rants about things they disagree with is the kind of person who’s not safe to be open with. Nobody perfectly agrees on everything… so how are they going to treat you when you run into that point of disagreement? Are you going to be the target for hellfire? And even if you agree on everything they’re clearly not an ally you can trust to use good judgment on when and who to pick a battle with… can you trust them not to make your situation worse by inflaming people with power over you or souring relationships you rely on?

        Reply
    4. anonymouse*

      My comment above compares interacting with them to touching a door knob in winter. Are you going to be fine, or will you feel that little jab? You just don’t know. Not fun.

      Reply
    5. Smithy*

      Agree – I will also say, that if your team truly does have completely unified political views on absolutely all of the issues expressed, that’s an incredibly narrow team culture.

      I work for nonprofits that certainly share political views and big tent cohesion – but there’s nothing like primary season to remind folks that there can still be quite a range of views even when everyone starts with shared starting point. If anything that moment when you go “uh, did you see the sticker X has on their laptop” ends up being a good reminder of holding that balance between having some shared political values, not assuming 100% alignment and being a professional.

      In some ways, being in a very conservative part of the country may have also generated a bit of an “us v them” dynamic where this has become a very safe personal space. All of which to say, that taking this away may be even more painful.

      Reply
      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Oh, yes, talk about “us v. them” dynamic…when the 2020 primaries were happening, it was really rough to be in my liberal political job. We were very women-focused, too, so it was frustrating that male candidates weren’t given nearly as much consideration…they were treated almost on-par with all the conservatives we would hear about all the time.

        Reply
        1. Smithy*

          I had the experience of working for a human rights nonprofit outside the US in a country with many more political parties, and that was a good education for how to approach that. Essentially, focusing on the shared enemies and massive problems was the approach as opposed to championing one party or politician as the solution.

          How to implement values rarely has one path, and certainly has many points. It was great preparation for how to approach primary seasons at work, when it’s just rarely the place having a political argument leads to anything positive.

          Reply
          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            That’s great, Smithy, super helpful! I wish my org had been more focused on shared enemies and problems instead of just hyper-focused on its one mission.

            PS I’m also a Smithie so I love your username. :-) Not sure if it means you’re a Smithie too or if it’s completely unrelated, but I like it just the same.

            Reply
            1. Smithy*

              I think maybe being a human rights organization in a very antagonistic environment helped build resilience in focusing on shared values. There were certainly enough other challenges.

              Reply
            2. Aitch Arr*

              I went to the other Historically Women’s College in the Valley.

              *high fives my Smithie Sibs*

              Reply
      2. turquoisecow*

        I would bet that they aren’t in 100% agreement on everything and the people who disagree with the editor have learned to be quiet rather than engage in a long argument.

        Reply
        1. Smithy*

          I’d agree. Personally, the politically oriented arguments I end up having that are the most heated and I regret the most are often with people I largely agree with, but it’s often around subtle differences or disagreements. At the end it’s very often a moment of feeling I wish it had ended far sooner and I’d just kept my mouth shut.

          In my personal life – so be it. But if someone at works wants to talk about why Andrew Yang is the best candidate for Mayor of NYC…..that’s a great time for a quiet “mmmmm” nod.

          Reply
        2. Oh No She Di'int*

          Right. I think it was one of the hosts of the Know Your Enemy podcast who said that when it comes to politics, individual people are “irreducibly weird.” Most people go along with the majority of opinions of a certain political camp, but no one ticks EVERY SINGLE BOX of opinions according to some orthodox view. Usually people just stay quiet about where they differ.

          Reply
      3. Erin*

        We had this dynamic at an immigrant-focused nonprofit. However several of our leaders.were nuns and other faith leaders in the local community. They were able to develop working relationships to help our families by treating people well who they vehemently disagreed with politically and insisted we put a real emphasis on doing the work, not standing around discussing the politics. It was helpful in such an emotionally taxing environment. When you’re seeing the human cost of policy decisions every day, rehashing how awful they are with each other isn’t really helpful to anybody.

        Reply
        1. Smithy*

          Thinking about this post does make me think that perhaps nonprofits can be a little better designed to establish professional norms in this space. Essentially, the work of the organization can inevitably and regularly involve conversations around politics and policies. There are conversations about how vocal and public to be at any given time, that the final decisions don’t always make everyone equally happy.

          So when you happen to be a human rights organization and a staff debate erupts around whether or not the office microwave should be kept vegan – an end result where everyone isn’t happy but a final decision has been made, isn’t a hill anyone is going to fight on for that long.

          Reply
    6. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I worked at a very liberal political organization for four years. It *was* exhausting to be up to date on the news all the time and have the “correct” take on current events. It even felt really awful if I had the slightest, most minor of differing opinion with my fellow co-workers, so I just didn’t voice those differing opinions. It wasn’t until I’d been at my new job for a month or so that I realized how much better I felt not always being aware of every single thing that was going on in the world. (Not that that stops the bad things from happening, of course….) It’s very very nice to be at an org that isn’t politics-adjacent, where I can talk about politics with friends and family and not have to also talk about it at work all day every day.

      Reply
      1. Jackalope*

        So much this. I’m on the liberal spectrum, and pretty left at least by US standards. That being said, I’ve been in a number of conversations online where if you don’t use the exact right words and the exact right concepts to communicate you get jumped on. I’m happy to be corrected when I’m wrong (or, well, maybe not happy since I like most people don’t enjoy that all that much, but I want people to do it), but it’s also exhausting having to try being perfect in every discussion. If work were like that I would find that incredibly stressful.

        Reply
        1. Anon for this*

          Yup….at my work we had a client who identified *herself* as Hispanic, and then when a coworker referred to the client that way, she was criticized by other coworkers for not saying Latinx. I mean, come on. Thankfully the coworkers who were spearheading this criticism burned themselves out on righteous anger and moved on.

          Reply
          1. Roci*

            Woof. You ever be so leftist that you loop back around and become a bigot. I see this sort of thing a lot online.

            Reply
    7. Lacey*

      Yes! It’s super stressful at times. I’ve seen even some of my most politically active friends feel crushed under the weight of those expectations.

      Reply
    8. The Original K.*

      I’m liberal and this sounds like a completely miserable work environment, to be honest. I just want to do my work and go home; I don’t want to fight The Man at work unless my actual job description is fighting The Man. The editor sounds like a bully, and the issue is that she’s been allowed to thrive unchecked.

      Reply
    9. Macaroni Penguin*

      Oh goodness, that environment sounds exhausting. Even if a person agrees totally in every conceivable way with The Editor, it would be an intense place to work. I wouldn’t want to work there. I don’t have any concrete suggestions, but the OP needs to focus on retraining the Editor. No matter who the New Person is, they’ll have challenges.

      Reply
    10. Aron*

      This. In my last workplace, my team and I were generally all on “the same page,” with varying degrees. It was absolutely exhausting with endless conversations about current events and, yes, feeling pressured to be current on minute developments with Just the Right take. I just wanted to do my job, not pretend to be Face the Nation: Work Day Edition.

      Reply
    11. Mister T*

      Agree. Also, the loudmouths often don’t represent the views of most people. We tend to calibrate to those who are the loudest, and when you look at how people actually think, they do not represent most people.

      And one of the most toxic things about our current political moment is the way we focus our ire on other citizens who hold political views we dislike, rather than the politicians, wealthy donors, and media platforms that are aggressively pushing those views.

      Reply
    12. Jaybeetee*

      Heck, even *actual political parties* tend to have range and differing points within them – let alone a group of friends or colleagues.

      And yes, I’ve encountered groups that had big emphases on “ideological purity” break down into everyone eating each other because they still disagreed on minor points. I’m purely speaking from my own perspective and experience here, but groups like that have always appeared to me to be more about witch-hunting than effecting positive change. And when they run out of witches to hunt, they start turning on each other.

      Reply
    13. llamaswithouthats*

      Agree. As a very progressive person, I find these people exhausting, especially since even in the progressive sphere, there is some variation in thought and the super outspoken types like to push their views and crowd out everyone else’s. Also, not everyone has the best intentions. Some people only use the movement to go after people they don’t like rather than actually try to improve society.

      Reply
      1. llamaswithouthats*

        Also, I’m making assumptions here but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Die on Hill employee was themselves white and generally privileged. A lot of white progressives like to speak on behalf of marginalized people but not take the time to realize that people who actually have stakes in certain issues don’t want to spend all day at work hearing about racism and whatnot.

        Reply
      2. Smithy*

        I think a bigger issue honestly is that some people are energized and amused by debate, and others are exhausted and upset by it. That can happen when it’s people generally on the same side or people more at odds.

        Reply
  7. Chilipepper Attitude*

    I don’t understand the reporting structure or how much control the OP has over all this. Does the editor report to the OP? Will the new guy report to the editor? Does any of that change anything?

    I think a key part of Alison’s advice is to say now that we are hiring, it is a good time to reign this in – but don’t say you are doing that bc of the new hire or his possible political views.

    And if I were the new hire, I would want a heads up that the office has HAD a culture of not reigning this in but you are focused on that now. Please feel free to talk to you about it, etc.

    Reply
      1. More anon today*

        I initially thought the editor did not report to the letter writer. I’ve now worked out that I thought that because she writes as though she has no power to change the editor’s behavior beyond talking to her. So if editor does report to her, then that way of thinking about it is part of the problem right there.

        Reply
    1. momofpeanut*

      Reining in someone who has been allowed to run with no brakes is a really painful process. I don’t envy the OP.

      Reply
  8. Richard Hershberger*

    Huh? Your team is “anti-capitalist” while working for a “large brokerage firm”? They are in no position to stand on principle.

    Reply
      1. Ferret*

        There are other options than starving to death. Come on.

        I got a job offer at a very prestigious tech company. I fundamentally disagree with their business model. So I turned it down and work at a much less impressive company where I feel I’m making a positive difference. Having principles is a thing. Especially if these people are going around browbeating anyone who disagrees with them politically.

        Reply
          1. Observer*

            Wait, so it’s ok to further the mission of an organization whose very nature is diametrically opposed to your stated views, but anyone who actually has the temerity to state a mild agreement with those views is worthy of raining “hellfire” on?

            You don’t credibly demand ideological purity from others when you spend most of your waking hours supporting something that you claim to be against. Even if you have good reasons. Because you have no standing to decide that you are the only one who is allowed to have good reasons.

            Reply
            1. Wool Princess*

              My comment was intended to remind Ferret that there is significant privilege in being able to turn down a job for ideological reasons. The original comment on this thread implies you have no leg to stand on if you want to criticize the work your employer does.

              I don’t need to imagine what it’s like to be working towards a mission I fundamentally disagree with, because I was in a job like that. I was fortunate enough to have the financial resources to leave (eventually), but recognize not everyone is so fortunate. No one in my workplace would have been receptive to ranting about it, but I could see how if the workplace has become a safe space for that employee why their behavior has gotten so out of hand.

              I can empathize with the employee’s situation and still think their behavior is unacceptable for the workplace. Their frustration is valid. The way they are expressing it is not.

              Reply
              1. Working Hypothesis*

                I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking the work one needs to in order to feed yourself and/or your family. Necessary compromises are a thing.

                But if you’re going to accept the existence of necessary compromises like that, you also need to be able to accept the existence of necessary compromises like “there are times and places where I don’t get to rant.” Otherwise, it just comes across as if you’re good with necessary compromises that serve your own needs, but not necessary compromises that serve other people’s.

                Reply
                1. Observer*

                  But if you’re going to accept the existence of necessary compromises like that, you also need to be able to accept the existence of necessary compromises like “there are times and places where I don’t get to rant.” Otherwise, it just comes across as if you’re good with necessary compromises that serve your own needs, but not necessary compromises that serve other people’s.

                  I agree. I would just say that it’s not that it’s not just “comes across” that way. It’s clearly the case that there is a double standard here.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I spent years working for a firm that I fundamentally disagreed with. At the end of the day I needed to pay my mortgage.

          (And the job market round here for my field is….bad)

          Reply
          1. Guacamole Bob*

            But did you constantly rant about the ways in which you disagreed with the firm’s position, to the degree that your manager would have had trouble hiring someone who did agree with what the firm stood for?

            To me the problem isn’t that these employees aren’t happy with the company’s mission. It’s that they’ve created an environment that’s uncomfortable for anyone who does align with it, and that is a pretty toxic culture to work in.

            Reply
            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              Oh lord no. I hope my comment wasn’t read in a way that meant I was agreeing with that kind of behaviour! I totally don’t. I just wanted to point out that not everyone can afford to only take jobs with companies that align with their morals.

              I think a cliquey environment regardless of the viewpoint is rather toxic (not in the legal sense).

              Reply
              1. Guacamole Bob*

                Sorry, didn’t mean to come across as attacking you! Just trying to point out the ways in which these employees are behaving in a problematic way, their personal beliefs aside. Some of the other commenters seem to be a bit too close to defending these employees on the grounds that some people have to take jobs they disagree with, when that’s not really the issue.

                Reply
            2. Shirley Keeldar*

              Right. If you can’t afford to be selective, I can relate, I’ve been there, but you also can’t afford to be nastily self-righteous.

              Reply
      2. Gouda*

        There are lots of options between “brokerage firm” and “starving to death.” Obviously, folks can and should take whatever job they need to survive, but to act like there are only two options and no nuance continues the “huh, guess I can’t do anything about it [shrug]” cycle, which is not helpful and is also not reality.

        Reply
      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I believe the /sarcasm is flying over people’s heads, am I right NotAManager? Just another reason for toning it down at the office.

        Reply
    1. MissBliss*

      They’re creatives working at a firm. Any job they take would put them in conflict with anti-capitalist beliefs because we live in a capitalist system. People don’t have to already exist and operate within the structure they find ideal to find it ideal and critique alternatives.

      I mean, would I work for a brokerage firm? No. I work in non-profits for a reason. But I also am not a fan of capitalism and yet capitalism necessitates the very types of organizations I work for, and the work I do. It’s a lose-lose situation all around.

      Reply
      1. LDN Layabout*

        Yup. When I graduated university, I applied everywhere. Including defence firms, where I very much Did Not want to work.

        On the other hand, I also enjoy eating and not being homeless, so if that had been the only offer I’d gotten? I would have held my nose.

        Reply
      2. Smithy*

        Agreed. I also work for a certain kind of nonprofit because it pays more than the nonprofits I would most desire to work for.

        This has become an unprofessional cultural dynamic, just because it has developed such a close knit team where even minor political disagreement could result in undesirable as well as unnecessary tension. But there’s that doesn’t make their decision to take these jobs at odds with their views and if anything is the exact problematic diversion this level of political discourse at work can devolve into.

        Reply
      3. EventPlannerGal*

        I think that the hardline views this person/team seems to have towards other political positions is what takes this into hypocrisy, though. It’s one thing to take a job that conflicts with your values; we all have to eat. But it’s really tone-deaf to be a die-on-this-hill, fire-and-brimstone anti-capitalist while working at a brokerage firm, of all possible places – hold those beliefs, sure, but to be so publicly hardline about them that your boss is worried you’re going to drive out new recruits? Come on. Self-awareness.

        Reply
        1. pancakes*

          Whether someone is a hypocrite or not doesn’t necessarily affect their coworkers, though. The problem here isn’t that the editor seems to be a hypocrite but that she talks about her views relentlessly and in an overheated way, and claims to be unable to stop herself from doing so.

          Reply
          1. EventPlannerGal*

            It was more of a general observation. Comments on this site sometimes discuss aspects of the letters beyond direct advice to the LW, which as far as I understand is allowed.

            Reply
      4. llamaswithouthats*

        Also, technically, the true “capitalists” are the owners of the means of production. So the business owners. All employees are working for and being exploited by them.

        To be clear, I don’t endorse what the editor is doing – he sounds obnoxious, but he’s also not the one exploiting workers AFAIK.

        Reply
      5. allathian*

        Oh, I don’t know. We live in a capitalist world and that’s unlikely to change, but it’s still completely okay to think that it’s obscene for any one person to have more wealth than a billion or so, or to support highly progressive taxation for that reason, while still wanting to get decently paid at their own job. I can live with highly progressive taxation given that I’ve benefited from the welfare state for the first 25 years or so of my life (free tuition up to Master’s degree), but I don’t want my efforts to help make rich executives even richer, which is why I prefer to work in the public sector.

        Reply
    2. The Witch in HR*

      I disagree. I mean if you don’t like current capitalism what is your alternative? Living van life or leaving yourself without any social safety nets like social security/401k/unemployment by not working.

      I don’t see an issue with being anti-caputalist while also being forced in essence to live in a capitalist society when there are very alternatives.

      I do agree with a lot of commenters on here though that being in a culture where that is all you talk about would be exhausting.

      Reply
    3. dawbs*

      Most of us aren’t in a financial position to stand on principle.

      That’s why they have to pay us; if it was fulfilling and 100% satisfied principles, we’d all do it for free.

      Reply
    4. DG*

      Eh, I don’t begrudge people for taking a job at an organization that doesn’t completely align with their values. Everyone has bills to pay, and in certain industries/cities, working in your desired field limits you to a few companies. And if we’re talking about anti-capitalist views specifically, the vast majority of people don’t have the option to opt out of a capitalist society.

      It *is* bizarre to openly and loudly discuss political views at work that are at odds with your employer’s existence.

      I have a friend who personally supports Medicare for All (and donated to/canvassed for progressive candidates), yet worked for a major health insurance company in a tech support role for a couple years. He obviously didn’t tell his employer that he was working in his spare time to make them obsolete.

      Reply
      1. Sharrbe*

        Yep. Unless we literally go completely off the grid and live off the land in the middle of nowhere, we’re all participants in a capitalist society. We may not like it, but we’re all tied to it.

        Reply
      2. Analyst Editor*

        Medicare for all may or may not align with private insurance company interests. I don’t think it’s likely that Medicare For All would be implemented as “traditional Medicare”, i.e. government pays for whatever according to a price list. More likely, Given how things are done in the US, I suspect that Medicare for All would be implemented with private insurance companies competing for customers to use their “managed care” plans adhering to lots of restrictions and standards, and with the government footing most of the bill on basically a per-capita basis (perhaps risk-adjusted), the way Medicare Advantage and Medicaid works in a lot of states.

        Reply
      3. pancakes*

        I wouldn’t go nearly as far as saying it’s bizarre for people to express views that conflict with their employer’s business objectives at work. Most employers aren’t quite so authoritarian and censorious for that to be unthinkable.

        Reply
    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My first thought as well. Not exactly taking down the system from the inside, are they?

      Reply
    6. Cat Tree*

      Honestly, this is the logical equivalent of disregarding Al Gore’s stance on climate change because he took a private jet.

      You’re really buying into the American myth of “personal responsibility” by focusing on individual actions and ignoring systemic issues. It doesn’t drive meaningful change for a bunch of individuals independently choosing to opt out of the whole system (at great expense to themselves). They live in this society and need to eat and pay rent and have a life. Your comment isn’t helpful.

      Reply
      1. GothicBee*

        I mean, I agree with you about personal responsibility, but you would generally expect some acknowledgement of the disconnect from someone who’s so vocally ranting about the problem. I mean Al Gore at least offsets his carbon emissions (iirc) and presumably directly addresses the disconnect in other ways as well. And if he didn’t, I’d expect people to call him out on it.

        It’s like don’t throw stones in glass houses. Maybe don’t rant to others about anti-capitalism while working a job that is so directly tied to capitalism itself. That doesn’t mean I think the employee should quit their job, just that they should maybe avoid the obnoxious rants. It’s not like they have to keep working at a brokerage firm in particular, which maybe means that their beliefs about anti-capitalism aren’t the most important thing to them (which is okay! that’s a judgment call just like everything else and there are plenty of reasons they might have for working there regardless of their beliefs).

        Reply
    7. Guacamole Bob*

      Yeah, that stood out to me, too. Of course the other commenters are correct that people need to take the jobs that are out there, sometimes, but it just makes the whole thing more toxic. Only people who believe that the company is inherently bad are going to be comfortable in this working environment? That’s… a pretty big thing to need to add in to the hiring mix.

      I worked at a brokerage firm early in my career, and I left because the whole culture was too oriented around wealth accumulation and it just wasn’t satisfying for me (and I considered myself liberal but by no means radical at that point). I’d say 90% of jobs are less demoralizing for an anti-capitalist than working at a brokerage. If you’re working at a plumbing parts supplier, the profit is part of the point of the company’s existence, but you’re also ensuring that people have functioning running water. At a brokerage, the money is both the product and the result. Sure, there can be some satisfaction in helping people achieve financial security – but the people who have accounts at large brokerages and who OP’s team are targeting with their marketing are probably not those who are struggling.

      So your hiring pool becomes the portion of the population in one subset of the political spectrum but who are willing to work in a particularly demoralizing environment? That’s going to make life pretty difficult as a hiring manager.

      Reply
      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This is by far the best response so far to my comment. The point is not that the only principled response to concerns about modern capitalism is to go join a commune in the wilderness. Life is all about compromises necessary to get through the day. But to get from “capitalism is pervasive and unavoidable in modern life” to “so let’s go work for a large brokerage firm!” requires many intermediate steps, and anyone willing to take those steps is not in a great position to bore everyone around them with diatribes about the evils of capitalism.

        Reply
        1. different seudonym*

          I think your point is highly valid. I also think that there is a strong chance that none of these ppl are actual radicals. It’s more likely that OP, at least, is just throwing the words around and actually means to describe something bourgeois and Biden-y.

          Reply
          1. CarolynM*

            That’s my take. I don’t talk politics at work, but from the rants I overhear, my most vocal coworkers’ version of “left” falls waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to the right of mine.

            Reply
        2. pancakes*

          No one is in a great position to bore everyone around them with diatribes, though. It’s rude and tedious behavior anywhere.

          Reply
    8. Purple Cat*

      +1000
      In marketing no less where they actively have to promote a “very capitalistic” company.
      To me it’s the equivalent of an anti-vaxxer working at Pfizer. Or someone claiming to be an environmentalist promoting the use of Roundup.
      Of course everyone needs a job to eat, but on the scale of things, this is a bit much.

      Reply
    9. Lyra Silvertongue*

      This is very “oh you criticize capitalism but you have an iPhone?” vibes. Neither you nor the rest of the commenters here know what these people do in line with their principles outside of a work context. It’s so irritating when people jump at the chance to be smug about the assumed inauthenticity of someone else’s progressive views.

      Reply
      1. Guacamole Bob*

        For me it’s not the editor’s anti-capitalist views that are the problem – people do need to take jobs that aren’t totally in line with their principles sometimes. But the office culture of ranting about those views at work at a brokerage firm creates a really problematic environment. It means that only people who fundamentally oppose what the company stands for/the product it sells are going to fit in with the team culture – and that’s not a good spot for OP to be in as a manager.

        Reply
      2. Pippa K*

        Nah, I came here to say the same thing as Richard. There’s a difference between “jobs in a capitalist economic system” and “working in marketing for a brokerage firm specifically,” and it’s a little surprising that someone so deeply committed to anti-capitalism that they’re constantly passionately discussing it at work would choose this particular work.

        As others have pointed out, we can imagine reasons and circumstances, but it’s not “smug” to notice and be curious about the apparent contradiction.

        Reply
        1. Cordyceps*

          This. When you loudly and aggressively espouse the most radical and extreme versions of a political philosophy, while making your living from the exact opposite of that, it comes across as disenginuous at best. Back when I worked in the public sector, I got pretty exhausted with all of the “Taxation is Theft” Libertarians in the office and their constant rants. It’s just kind of like, if you really believe that so strongly that you feel the need to constantly discuss it at work, WHY ARE YOU HERE? Why are you advocating for an extreme viewpoint that would put all of us out of a job if it became reality?

          It’s fake and intellectually lazy and I’ve witnessed this behavior from both extremes of the political spectrum in various workplaces.

          Reply
          1. Shira*

            You worked with actual Ron Swanson??
            (Except, I’m guessing, without the rugged live-off-the-land skills, heart of gold under the gruff exterior, and magnificent moustache. Which…ugh. My sympathies.)

            Reply
        2. hot priest*

          Yes, you’ve put it succinctly. It’s the specificity of working at a brokerage firm that makes the contrast curious.

          Reply
    10. kittymommy*

      Ehh while I sort of agree the other commenters are correct that capitalism is pretty hard to avoid, assuming the writer works in the US. I think that for me it’s the absolute stridency in which the editor exhibits. No room for another opinion, no room for any sort of disagreement and absolutely no tolerance or even rational, work-place “avoid the topic” attitude from their workmates….. I don’t know, I have a hard time giving grace to someone who’s not willing to give any themselves.

      Reply
      1. Observer*

        it’s the absolute stridency in which the editor exhibits. No room for another opinion, no room for any sort of disagreement and absolutely no tolerance or even rational, work-place “avoid the topic” attitude from their workmates….. I don’t know, I have a hard time giving grace to someone who’s not willing to give any themselves.

        Exactly.

        Reply
    11. CB212*

      I’ve absolutely taken design gigs with firms whose values don’t align with mine. Some artists can carve out a career doing paid work *only* for cat rescues and mutual aid societies, most have to work for capitalists at least sometimes. There have been many occasions where I’ve drawn lines I won’t step over, but ‘not taking any money from people who make money’ is a pretty high bar.

      Reply
      1. Pippa K*

        There’s “our jobs and consumer choices are all unavoidably intertwined in capitalism in some way” and there’s “I’m an anti-capitalist who works for a brokerage firm.” The former is just the way the world is; the latter looks like an odd choice. (Unless this is the first scene in a movie about subversive revolutionaries, in which case I look forward to the letter asking if it’s appropriate to use PTO for a heist.)

        Reply
    12. Mister T*

      Oh you wacky armchair radicals.

      Obviously people who are critical of capitalism need to feed themselves. But it is intensely ironic to be an anti-capitalist working in finance.

      Reply
      1. Liza*

        We only have OPs word they are anti capitalist. Considering how everything to the left of hunting the homeless gets called socialist/communist/Marxist they probably are at most in favor of like democratic socialism.

        Reply
    13. Sue Wilson*

      Well I agree with you. There’s a difference between anti-capitalism but needs a job and anti-capitalism that works in a place that not only underscores but perpetuates capitalism as a core principle of business.

      Reply
      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, it’s like a vegan with a career in food service who’s working in one of those steakhouses where you can’t get anything vegetarian and is choosing to rant about animal cruelty all day. It’s hard to find a food industry job that doesn’t touch animal products at all, but maybe choosing to work at The House of Meat isn’t going to work out well? And if jobs at restaurants with a more diverse menu are hard to come by, that person will still need to rein it in and not rant about how evil meat is to all their coworkers all day.

        Reply
        1. Guacamole Bob*

          And to stretch this further… if you somehow find yourself managing a steakhouse with a bunch of vegan wait staff who make it really unpleasant to work there for anyone who is fine with eating meat, you’re going to run into some recruitment problems. The pool of people who want to work in a steakhouse but will happily listen to rants about animal rights on a daily basis is not large. If you want to be able to hire, you’re going to have to get people to stop ranting about their beliefs at work.

          Reply
    14. Beth*

      They’re creatives making a living. I hear what you’re saying. I know someone who makes enough to fund multiple international trips a year on top of several expensive hobbies and living well in a very expensive area, yet is also a vocal anticapitalist; it can be pretty jarring to go from hearing about their latest multi-week European jaunt directly to an announcement that they consider themselves a communist.

      But that’s part of the paradox of systemic issues. You do have to pay the bills somehow, and for most people that means needing a steady job. Most big employers, especially those that pay a decent wage, are actively supporting and upholding capitalism (after all, the system is working for them). So most people who are ideologically anti-capitalist will still need to work in a way that at least tangentially upholds the system. Refusing to do that won’t dismantle the system; it’ll probably just mean you’re spending all your time piecing together enough income to cover rent, and won’t have any time or money left over to support your cause of choice.

      Reply
      1. Beth*

        Of course, that doesn’t mean the ranting is okay. It isn’t, it needs to stop, it’s going to drive off even people who mostly agree with the concepts behind it, much less people who don’t. But the ‘gotcha’ of “She’s anticapitalist and yet, as a creative with limited non-precarious job options, chose to take one of those options?” doesn’t have the impact that it might seem to have at first glance.

        Reply
    15. llamaswithouthats*

      We live in a capitalist system so every job is technically “capitalist”. You can be an anticapitalist and not want to starve and be homeless.

      Reply
      1. llamaswithouthats*

        I say this as someone who left a corporate job to work at a lefty nonprofit. EXCEPT…I wouldn’t have gotten this lefty job if it weren’t for my corporate experience (because my field has very few entry level openings) and my Masters degree – something not universally accessible on the US. Oh, and my lefty nonprofit takes a bunch of donations from billionaires and multinational banks. It’s still part of a neoliberal system.

        Reply
    16. Koala dreams*

      Yeah, I agree. Any topic can be exhausting if it’s too much, but this seems extra exhausting because of the situation. If I had to work for a tobacco company for a living (for a different example), I wouldn’t want my co-workers to complain about the evils of tobacco all the time.

      Reply
  9. UKgreen*

    “With the past four years being what they were, she is still on fire and would rather die on whatever hill she’s battling that day than let someone (especially a new guy) get away with saying something she doesn’t agree with. It’s exhausting, to be honest.”

    This person sounds like she has the potential to be bullying or harassing people, and potentially, if I’m reading this right, behaving in a way which discriminates by their sex, assuming she’s treating men as inferior to women? Is this the case? If so she needs to be dealt with appropriately, because this doesn’t sound like ‘office culture’, it sounds like ‘being an asshole’.

    Reply
      1. ENFP in Texas*

        This. Is she an adult? Then it’s time she learned to act like one. Is she a professional? Then it’s time she learned to act like one.

        Reply
        1. Cordelia*

          OP, how would you manage the editor if she behaved in exactly the same way, but her views were opposite to yours? I think you’d find a way to rein her in somehow; you wouldn’t just accept that “she can’t help herself”. So take the content of the views away, and think about how she is expressing herself, how she is communicating with you and the team, is this appropriate in a professional environment? Because it doesn’t sound like it is

          Reply
          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            That’s a very good way to think about it: if you’re stuck for an action, reverse the situation and ask yourself how you’d change.

            Reply
            1. SnappinTerrapin*

              Keymaster, you frequently dispense pithy nuggets of wisdom. I admire that. I tend to be either verbose, or sound like a smart-aleck (if not both.)

              I also admire how well you handle disagreement or miscommunication.

              You are one of many bright spots in this delightful forum.

              Reply
          2. Observer*

            how would you manage the editor if she behaved in exactly the same way, but her views were opposite to yours?

            This is an EXCELLENT point.

            Reply
      2. Gilmore67*

        No kidding. ” She can’t help herself”… is more like…. She is not being held accountable to “not being able help herself “.

        Employee is allowed to keep this up because OP doesn’t want to deal with it. So the employee(s) are running the show here.

        It is a little worrisome that a new or potential employee has to be warned of a toxic type work environment so they can decide if they want a job. What is to be said ? ” Just so you know… employees here have “this” opinion on ” XYZ” and you might be under attack?

        So who is really in “control” here? Does the OP really have to think about who to hire purely to make sure that employee in particular doesn’t get mad?

        So who cares about their talent, their experience? Just make sure they don’t tick off the ” die on whatever hill” person?

        OP, please gain control over all of this. Like AMM and other posters have said, more then likely current employees are sick of all this as well,

        Reply
      3. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        I just can’t help myself when it comes to discussing Manchester United’s season but at the end of the day I’m not casting emotional labor on everyone in my vicinity when I do so.

        Just because you have a perfectly valid reason to be quite inflamed about something doesn’t mean you get to light everyone on fire that surrounds you.

        Reply
      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Most people *are* hearing sirens. I’m not seeing significant numbers of supporters for this editor (or the LW for the way there managing her so far), including from the left.

        Reply
          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Not useful or productive, but I gather the object of the game is to trade “zingers” with people you disagree with, to the delight of those who agree with you.

            It’s a game where willing participants play by rules that expressly preclude nuanced discussion of complex issues.

            They can play to their hearts’ content, without affecting me in the least, unless some lazy reporter mistakes their post for “news” and publishes it in a medium I read in hope of learning something.

            Reply
    1. CB212*

      I don’t think it sounds like she treats men as inferior to women – more that A Man, coming in with the political views that support the existing power structures in this country, is particularly likely to set off her ire in the workday conversations. [I’m not defending her at-work vibe *in any way*! It sounds like she needs to dial it all the way down!!! Just, that’s not a workplace discrimination issue, it’s a *personal* one, and one she needs to remove from the office.]

      Reply
      1. Boof*

        I’m not sure I understand what’s not sexist about treating someone differently because they are A Man vs a man… at least not if being male is part of being A Man. Can a woman be A Man? (ultimately this is for the OP and/or editor to answer)

        Reply
        1. LTL*

          Yeah, like its one thing if she’d be particularly worked up if a man was sharing opinion’s on sexism, women’s rights, and the like. But it sounds like she’d be more worked up if a man disagreed with her than if a woman did on literally any political issue. It’s a very bad look.

          Reply
      2. Observer*

        I don’t think it sounds like she treats men as inferior to women – more that A Man, coming in with the political views that support the existing power structures in this country, is particularly likely to set off her ire in the workday conversations.

        Except that actually not what the OP says. They say that she will not let anyone, “get away with saying something she doesn’t agree with.” That’s the key here. No one is allowed to disagree with her on anything, ESPECIALLY a guy. Not just about feminism / patriarchy, but “something she doesn’t agree with.”

        Reply
        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Right. I sure hope it doesn’t extend to “Ugh, Granny Smith apples are trash. Give me a Fuji any day.” Because if so, holy cats would that be annoying.

          Reply
  10. Toodie*

    I think what makes this even more difficult is that these days, anything can be political. I mean, who’d’a thunk two years ago that wearing a mask could be a political issue?

    Reply
    1. Michelle Smith*

      Sure, I see your point, but it still isn’t hard to just keep your non-work-related opinions to yourself. My office is more open than most, I think, about political discussions because of the nature of our work, but I definitely only discuss/debate political issues that are directly related to the work. As an analogy, if I worked for a criminal justice reform organization, I might discuss and (politely, professionally) debate someone on the merits of a particular new statute being proposed like say marijuana legalization. I wouldn’t discuss or debate the merits of campaign finance reform or gun control or vaccine passports, because those things are not directly related to my work.

      Reply
    2. Delta Delta*

      Bingo. Imagine the new hire comes in and says, “gee, traffic was bad today down by where they installed the new stop sign.” And the editor loses her noodles because … whatever reason connected to the stop sign. I suspect she’s apt to pick a fight about anything remotely political, and you never know where the fight will be. It isn’t fair to anyone to let this continue – it’s probably like walking on eggshells for everyone there.

      Reply
      1. Observer*

        magine the new hire comes in and says, “gee, traffic was bad today down by where they installed the new stop sign.” And the editor loses her noodles because … whatever reason connected to the stop sign.

        Take this a step further. Say the person in charge of placing stop signs and stop lights is Editor’s preferred person. And the Employee says “Gee, traffic was terrible where they installed a new stop sign where they should really have put a traffic light.” What’s going to happen then? And heaven forbid the Employee says “That was such a stupid thing to do.”

        In most contexts that’s not exactly a highly charged thing to say. But in the situation that the OP describes, this is going to be like tossing a torch on a bunch of kerosene soaked wood.

        OP. Consider this. You don’t want to rein in your Editor because you don’t want people to feel like that cannot say that they think. But all you are doing is making sure that SOME people can say what they think and others CANNOT. And the “others” are not necessarily bitgots of all stripes, but people who just don’t EXACTLY align with the views of a single person. That’s just not acceptable.

        Reply
      2. I Work in this Field*

        I work in this field, and I can tell you that in my area, every decision as to whether to install, not install, or remove a stop sign is met with partisan political response, as is every other decision we make. My manager just left because of this. I’m supposed to be moved into that role, but I don’t want it. I’m just hoping that I can pass on moving up without ruffling too many feathers.

        Reply
        1. CarolynM*

          OMG – people take no prisoners when it comes to their ideas of where traffic lights/stop signs should go! I was all fired up about an issue in my town so I went to the Town Council meeting … only for the issue I cared about to get moved to the next meeting because people had A LOT of FEEEEEEELINGS about a proposed stop sign! People were angry and passionate! On both sides! I was kind of jealous – I really wanted people to care about the particular bee in my bonnet as much as they cared about this stop sign!

          Reply
    3. Susie*

      As someone that works in education, everything about my job is political, so this current state of being isn’t super new to me.
      Based on my work experience, I think your comment is a super helpful one if the LW wants to have one big picture conversation–It might be helpful to name this feeling (that everything is political now) and to talk about strategies together. If I thought about every decision I made and the historical and current context every time, I’d be incapable of doing my job. So I take time to reflection on my practice and actively pursue further educating myself, but ultimately I decide on the systems I want to implement and do the best I can with those until I have another opportunity to reflect. I went into this school year basically thinking I wanted to blow up the whole system–everything was tainted. I didn’t. I had to decide what part of the work was sustaining to me, what part I would actively fight, and what I would let others own and support them.

      Reply
      1. Claritza*

        And as a public school teacher, my personal religious beliefs were definitely off the table in interactions with students. Not discussed much in the faculty room, either.

        Reply
    4. Richard Hershberger*

      Sports. Yes, sports are political, once you scratch the surface. But it is possible to discuss sports in ways where the politics are beneath the surface: “I think that running back they drafted looks real good.” Though even there, pay attention and you will find that guy who only likes white athletes. He won’t admit to this, but cross reference his opinions and athletes’ race and it becomes clear. But it is possible to ignore this. And don’t take betting advice from that guy. He’s a moron.

      Reply
    5. cncx*

      that’s part of the problem, definitely. everything is political.

      i’m really lucky because i’m in a two person team with someone who is politically diametrically opposed on every issue (and we still work together like adults) and we both got fed up at the same time. if a subject comes up and it turns out to be political it gets dropped right back down again.

      i feel for him on some level because the rest of our extended team has views similar to mine and i think had political talk been not shut down there was the potential for him to feel hurt.

      Reply
  11. Editor Sympathizer, We had a really bad 4 years*

    How do these discussions come up so frequently during the day though? I could easily see a situation where the janitor for the editor’s office (or whatever) is regularly spouting hateful things and the editor is being put in a bad position regularly.

    Is she just reading news during the work day? Does everyone just talk about current events? If you cut it off at the source, without making it about beliefs, would that be more palatable?

    Reply
    1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      There are some folks who can turn any topic to Their Topic – whether that’s parenting, politics, or poodle breeding (and I’ve worked with all three).

      With our team working 100% remote, we had several folks who like to talk politics create a dedicated Teams channel for it. It let the folks who liked to debate gun control and redistricting etc. do so in an opt-in environment. I opted out and signed petitions and wrote letters in my downtime. But if the editor is just bursting into “AND ANOTHER THING!” then that’s just not okay in a workplace where the goal is to get the work done, not shout into an echo chamber all day.

      Reply
      1. Momma Bear*

        Yes. I can be having a generic “about work” discussion that turns into something about kids which becomes a rant about the district, the county, the state….There are some people I put on a strict info diet just to avoid the breadcrumbs that might lead to a conversation I do not want to have.

        I think this editor could watch her tone…if it was made clear that she had to. But that would go both ways, too. OP should also expect New Hire to do the same.

        Reply
        1. Roscoe*

          But, even saying “expect New Hire to do the same” isn’t really fair. We have no reason to think he would behave anything but professionally. Editor has a history of being unprofessional. You can’t just say “we need to watch both of them equally”

          Reply
        2. Observer*

          But that would go both ways, too. OP should also expect New Hire to do the same.

          Why do you feel the need to call this out? Obviously, if the person shows any signs of unprofessional behavior, it should be shut down. But why are you assuming that he’s going to be rude, and even abusive and needs to be warned about it? (“Raining hellfire” on people sure sounds pretty close to abusive to me.) If you actually have reason to think that this is the kind of behavior you can expect from him, DO NOT HIRE HIM. Or are you just warning him because he is conservative so he MUST be that way?

          Reply
        3. Khatul Madame*

          New Hire may assume that political rants are OK in this environment (because Editor does it without censure), and launch into his own. Boy, is he in for a rude awakening!

          Reply
      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh my yes. For a long time we had a member of staff who could turn literally ANY discussion into his viewpoints on how many kids people should have. And we were all doing SQL stuff at the time so it was kinda impressive (although blimmin annoying) how he’d turn a discussion of left versus right outer joins into ‘why all people should be forced to have X number of kids’ part the million.

        Reply
        1. Cat Tree*

          Now I’m curious. Was he pro or anti kids? Did he have a set number he wanted everyone to have, or did he judge it on a case by case basis? This is a weird pet cause that I haven’t really encountered in the wild.

          Reply
          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I don’t want to go much further into it (thoroughly unpleasant man) but he was toward the ‘all wrongs in society are the result of women deciding not to be stay at home mothers of two point four children’ side of things let’s just say.

            Reply
        2. Could not resist*

          Select a.poorarguments
          From a.boorishbehavior
          Inner join b.misogyny
          On a.badID = b.badID
          Where a.poorarguments like ‘%wimmin%’
          And b.attitude = ‘wrong’

          Reply
        3. UKDancer*

          I had a colleague in my previous company who turned every conversation into a discussion of the evils of Brexit. I agreed with him in principle but I didn’t want to talk about it at work because it was just exhausting and depressing and it wasn’t like we could do anything about it. Also I knew that some of the other people in the office had supported Brexit and so probably would find the workplace uncomfortable when he kept on about it.

          Still it was better than when he attempted to explain to the two women in the team how to treat PMS. We managed not to strangle him but it was a close thing.

          Reply
      3. lost academic*

        This is my husband, a militant fundamentalist libertarian and atheist. No conversational topic is safe. None. It eventually alienates people even if they have a similar bent on that item. I don’t know how he is at work but I assume he is professional there as he is still employed (even in the tech sector which is pretty forgiving of these norms).

        Reply
    2. Roscoe*

      This is one of those thing where you are REALLY reaching. I feel like if these rants were always the result of someone else doing something offensive, it would’ve been noted. But the fact that OP bolded “guy” and says things like “she can’t help herself” implies that is a lot more than someone who wronged her. Its that she thinks her way is “right” and if you don’t agree, not only are you wrong, but you aren’t even entitled to your opinions.

      Reply
    3. Cat Tree*

      I had a weird boss at a toxic company where I worked because it was the only job I could get during the great recession. He was very anti-liberal, and for some bizarre reason assumed that I agreed with him. Any time anyone had a complaint about the workplace (and there were plenty at this toxic place), he made a point to blame it on liberals. Some people can just turn any conversation into their preferred topic.

      Reply
    4. I'd rather not be ID'd thx*

      Easy: my office has had CNN playing in the cafeteria & break room for all shifts since they got big screen TVs for corporate presentations. Before 9/11.
      We had occasional breaks for sports when the guy in control of the remote was into the World Cup, but otherwise it’s been about 12 years since I ate anywhere but at my desk.

      Reply
      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Our remotes weren’t locked down, so I changed every TV I passed to The Weather Channel. I may have even sometimes hid the remote under my lunch bag while I was eating so that it couldn’t be changed back to the news :)

        Reply
    5. Huh.*

      Really not loving the straw man “clearly a blue collar worker would have vocal hateful beliefs” assumption happening here, given that a janitor was never even mentioned in the initial letter.

      Reply
      1. Metadata minion*

        Cosigned. And the editor does not seem like someone who would keep quiet if this was happening.

        Reply
    6. The New Wanderer*

      Also, shutting it down isn’t about the beliefs themselves, it’s about the rampant, aggressive discussions or ranting that is the problematic behavior. Pick any topic, if you have someone loudly voicing their opinions on a regular basis and potentially having issues with anyone who disagrees, the problem is still the behavior and not their opinions.

      Reply
  12. CatCat*

    The editor is a Problem. You need to manage that no matter what. You say, ” I know that whoever we hire will, at some point, say something to light her fuse and it will be hellfire for everyone.”

    What is your plan to support New Guy when hellfire rains down? Why is this okay in your department?

    Seriously. I just don’t get, “And despite our many attempts at talking with her about this issue, she just can’t help herself.” If she cannot control herself around people she doesn’t agree with then I question her fit here. Are there any other consequences other than a “talking to”? Because that’s going nowhere.

    Reply
      1. Observer*

        It actually doesn’t matter if she can help herself. The behavior NEEDS to stop! If she can help herself she should. If she cannot help herself the OP needs to manage her out.

        Reply
    1. radfordblue*

      Yeah, this behavior would be so obviously and extremely unacceptable in any office I’ve ever worked in that I’m just baffled why it was allowed to continue. There is a very good reason that frequent and adversarial discussion of religion and politics is considered unprofessional at work.

      These people aren’t your friends or family; they’re your coworkers. You have to spend time with them to do your job. As an employee, part of your job is to get along with your coworkers and not make the workplace miserable for other people.

      Reply
      1. it's me*

        I think the Trump administration being so extreme birthed circumstances in which it was difficult to avoid venting, etc., but at this point it’s starting to have an effect on new hires. It needs to be curbed.

        Reply
        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Sure, but as others have said, even if I agree with you it’s exhausting to listen to angry venting all.day.long.

          Reply
        2. Gretchen Wiener*

          “difficult to avoid venting” is not a thing at WORK. I had a terrible terrible divorce that consumed so much of my life and while I had trouble not talking about it non-stop with my friends, I did not bring it up at work.
          And there are MANY things that people find abhorrent, but you can’t talk about it at work.

          Reply
          1. Public Sector Manager*

            Exactly! People can vent about politics with their friends after work, on weekends, during a lunch break, commenting on a blog during their free time. But at work? No!

            I work at a non-partisan government agency where our clients are all politicians. And I only know the political views of about 15% of my team, because they have said something in passing. My team of 20 rarely, if ever, vents at work. It’s really easy to avoid venting at work.

            Reply
      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Long ago boss of mine who, while he was in no way perfect (had some major flaws), had a couple of catchphrases for when non-work topics got heated in the office.

        If it was more than one person stridently vocalising an opinion he’d say “Oi! Save it for the pub”

        If it was just one person angrily venting he’d say “Oi! Save it for home time”

        (He was the boss who warned me outright that I was being a major dickhead to everybody and that I’d better get some effing help. I was a lot younger and WAS being a major dickhead)

        Reply
        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I really like “Save it for the pub” as a catch phrase for conversation topics that would be fine in casual off-hours chat but are not fine around a captive audience at the office. I’m gonna keep that one. :)

          Reply
    2. straws*

      Right, and what if they hire someone else who is mostly in line with her views, but happens to speak up on the One Thing they differ on? Is that person now attacked? This isn’t an issue with the new guy’s views, it’s 100% an issue with an Editor whose impulse control is ridiculous far from adult professional norms. This needs remediation.

      Reply
    3. anonymouse*

      Throwback to the letter from the person who says that the team forces out anyone hired to replace a coworker who died.
      It was the same situation:
      “We are all this way. Hilda is most outspoken, though. So if someone upsets her, all hell breaks loose.”
      and the question, “how do we make a new person accept this?” instead of, “what things that we accept as normal should really be changed and how?”

      Reply
  13. SlimeKnight*

    Honestly this sounds like a very insular group with a codependent group dynamic that is unlikely to be welcoming to any new person.

    Reply
    1. it's me*

      As someone pointed out about, a fair amount of left-leaning people seem to focus on what the most bleeding-edge take is above everything else, the keeping up with which is grating and exhausting. Even a fellow liberal who’s uninterested in this race might feel unwelcome, so it’s not even necessarily that this guy is presumably conservative. But as has been pointed out, what if he likes “debate”? I worked with someone who was belligerently conservative and would have welcomed the opportunity to argue.

      Reply
      1. Sharrbe*

        You’re right. The new person may love to debate, at which point productivity and comaraderie goes out the window.

        Reply
      2. Magenta Sky*

        It’s not just the left. The right does it, too. They just use different buzzwords.

        The issue isn’t the politics, it’s a manager who doesn’t step on disruptive behavior as hard as necessary to put an end to it.

        Reply
        1. Spencer Hastings*

          Yup — they talk a lot about who’s a “real American” or a “true Christian” and who’s a “RINO”, for instance.

          Reply
        2. Oh No She Di'int*

          Yes, thank you for saying that. There are no innocents here. What we’re describing is an effect of echo chambers, per se, regardless of what is being echoed.

          Reply
      3. pancakes*

        I agree about the new guy, but if “fellow liberals” agreed with people to their left they’d be on the left themselves. Being grouped together by people to the right of either doesn’t make them fellows.

        Reply
        1. Spencer Hastings*

          I think there are plenty of things people on the left can disagree on and still be on the left, and in some cases I don’t think it’s particularly meaningful or beneficial to argue about which side of it is more on the left.

          Reply
          1. pancakes*

            My point isn’t that it’s beneficial for those two groups to argue amongst themselves but that it doesn’t make sense to let a third group opposed to both set the terms of their discussion.

            Reply
  14. Super Duper Anon*

    I would very much fit in with the political leanings of this team, but absolutely not want to work in this environment at all. I want to come in, make polite small talk with my coworkers about the weather, their pets or kids, books I have recently read, etc. then focus on the work and go home. Plus someone who can’t let an issue go? No thank you very much. This would be completely exhausting. I would want a heads up in the interview about the team culture so I could select out.

    Reply
    1. Sharrbe*

      Agree. I’ve had to limit my exposure to the news, mute a lof of FB friends, and refuse to engage in political discussions even if I agree with the other person just to keep my sanity. To be a captive audience to political talk for up to 40 hours a week would be hell. My rule of thumb – when my brain starts going into political overdrive, I watch some cat videos. Works every single time.

      Reply
      1. M*

        I agree. My mental health has plummeted in the past couple of years, and the pandemic all but ruined it. I have pulled back, per my therapist’s suggestion, on the news cycle and on political movies/tv etc. My partner asked me if I wanted to watch a short film about police brutality, and I explained that it looked really good, and I’m glad that it exists, for my mental well-being, I can’t right now. This office environment sounds awful. If I knew this editor in real life, I’d probably mute her on social media, even though I’d likely agree with a lot of her points.

        Reply
    2. Littorally*

      Agreed. I would find it very tiring, and I’m pretty leftist. When I’m working, I don’t want to be thinking about politics because that level of exhaustion and demoralization impedes my ability to do a good job.

      Reply
      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I’d much prefer to stick to the weather. I know not everyone likes small talk but given a choice between small talk and political rants I’d take the small talk every time. It’s a lot less exhausting than listening to people going on about politics even when I agree with them.

        Reply
  15. els*

    Has the guy actually been hired yet? The language sounds more like he’s being strongly considered, but hasn’t been offered the job yet.

    Reply
    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      From the sound of OP’s letter, it appears this is the only viable candidate for the opening and I think we can safely assume an offer would be forthcoming.

      Reply
    2. CB212*

      Yeah, it sounds like the letter was written before the offer and definitely before he accepted – LW is actually asking how to do the warning that Alison says needs/needed doing. (But yes, more important to manage the existing team than to scare off a new hire by bringing him into a volatile room.)

      Reply
    3. Observer*

      The thing is that the editor’s behavior is a problem regardless of whether THIS person gets hired. The fact that the OP is worried about making a reasonable hire because one of her staff is out of control bigot shows that they are TOTALLY not recognizing their part in the problem.

      Reply
  16. ThinMint*

    OP, if you’re exhausted by it, I guarantee you that others with less power than you are very much over it.

    Reply
    1. Momma Bear*

      And the description of “hellfire” is telling. Who wants to be in the middle of that regularly?

      Reply
  17. LDN Layabout*

    No matter what your fervently expressed opinion is, no matter how much you may agree with it, no one wants to hear about it constantly.

    Reply
    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Yes! For example, I think Frontline is a great series that discusses important issues. But sometimes I just need to watch animal videos for my own sanity.

      Reply
    2. Pippa K*

      Seriously. I’m a political science professor, and even *we* don’t talk about politics this much.

      Reply
    3. UKDancer*

      Definitely. I have certain political views and certain hobbies but I don’t want to talk about either all the time and certainly not at work.

      Reply
    4. Allonge*

      This. My colleague who goes on rants about how quality is important and we should have time for reach projects is annoying me, and that is about work (and I agree, but ranting is not going to make it happen, ok?)

      Reply
  18. Case of the Mondays*

    I think you can do both – give the new guy a heads up and work on reigning in your team by having real consequences if they violate your no talking politics rule. There may need to be some definition there because as someone said above, almost anything can be political and sometimes some politics are necessary in work. Such as – there is new legislation pending that will impact our industry or here is what they new corporate tax rate will do to our business.

    For new guy, you don’t have to let on that you checked his FB. People find that creepy even if everyone does it. I’d just say “hey, just a heads up while you are deciding this offer. We have a lot of very vocal politically liberal people here. We are working on reigning in the political talk at work, but this could still be an issue for awhile after you first start. I just want to make sure that is something you are aware of before accepting.”

    Reply
    1. Not A Dream Job*

      About the new guy. Be aware you may be made to feel VERY uncomfortable. It will be evident the new attempt to change the culture will be triggered by bringing in someone new. Will he be blamed for “ruining” the workplace? How awkward for him!

      Reply
      1. On Fire*

        Yes, this could be akin to the new employee whose dog allergy “ruined everything” for her dog-friendly workplace. It wasn’t her fault, but she was vociferously blamed.

        Reply
      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yeah, it’s going to be extra difficult to change this dynamic without it becoming “we have to do this so New Hire doesn’t feel uncomfortable” which in the editor’s mind will probably become “you’re being silenced to cater to this conservative man”

        Reply
    2. anonymouse*

      Yes, use this time and process to well, not get over, but move past the us v them dynamic that the last four years created in your office.
      Start fresh. Try things like: Keeping the meetings you lead to business topics. Wrap up when you are done; don’t foster a group rant session.
      The editor fills YOU with dread. Imagine her peers or subordinates. I need a document from her, but I have to listen to a rant about politics, that is basically a character, intelligence or general personality attack?
      Do others do this? Like instead of saying, “Hey, you used the X source so the content is outdated/wrong.” Is it more like, “if you weren’t so busy voting for X, you would have done this right.”
      Because joking like that is what will make people leave.

      Reply
    3. BookishMiss*

      Yes. A new hire coming in board is the PERFECT time to tweak/reset a team culture, and in this case it will benefit the new hire as well as the existing team. The existing team will benefit by not alienating the rest of the company, in case that wasn’t clear.

      And the editor can absolutely help herself. You need to manage her with that expectation.

      Reply
  19. Michaela T*

    Just want to echo what Alison said, I would find this environment exhausting even though it sounds like I agree with the overall leanings of your team. I already have to shut down rants at home from my husband (and myself!) sometimes, I wouldn’t want to have to deal with it at work. Hopefully you can turn this around.

    Reply
  20. Sharrbe*

    I’m liberal and would find this environment exhausting as well. There really should be a “no political discussion” policy during work hours. This should have been reigned in a while ago.

    Reply
  21. Bee Eye Ill*

    Wait until new guy starts secretly making recordings of the stuff going on, then quits and posts it all on YouTube. Maybe so-and-so does need to die on a hill, or in their own fire.

    Reply
    1. Temperance*

      To me, that sounds like a reason not to hire him. People’s lives have been threatened over things like this; remember Pizzagate? It’s only gotten worse and less safe.

      Reply
      1. lost academic*

        Wait, what? The risk of inappropriate office discussions becoming public is a reason you can’t hire someone? You’re coming at this from the wrong angle. The office culture is a problem, not the possibility that someone might see it being inappropriate. That’s akin to saying “we can’t hire someone who might act ethically or legally or have a problem that we don’t”

        Reply
      2. Nettie*

        The fact that this guy could hypothetically record office conversations and publicize them, based on pure speculation, is reason not to hire him? It’s absolutely not!

        Reply
      3. Bee Eye Ill*

        Temp, you missed my point. This hostile work environment sounds like the kind of place that could be outed in a bad way. If you have some nimrod running their mouth like that and it gets exposed, it could hurt the business. Or some people might agree with them and like it. Who knows? Like Alison said, this type of culture should have not been allowed, unless it’s CNN.

        Reply
  22. SheLooksFamiliar*

    I take frequent and long Facebook and Twitter breaks because of political diatribes and ‘discussions’. Even when I agree with the person’s viewpoint, it’s tiresome to hear it expressed so vehemently. It’s polarizing and stressful – and we’re not even face-to-face. I can’t imagine how bad it would be to work with this kind of talk flying around me, in volumes I can’t always tune out.

    Reply
  23. Free Meerkats*

    “she just can’t help herself.”

    Yes she can. She chooses not to. Shut her the F down, right now. In a private meeting lay out the behavior you’ve seen and let her know it has to stop, today. When (not if) she goes off again, another meeting and a first warning. From there, continue as you would with any other performance problem.

    Reply
    1. Mental Lentil*

      I completely agree. And if she needs to be fired, well, that’s the hill she’s going to die on. Speaking as an editor, we’re a dime a dozen, and not difficult to replace.

      Reply
    2. Nicotene*

      To be fair, I can’t tell how much OP has addressed this before. From the letter I get the sense OP has appreciated their liberal bubble and possible joined in on this conversation, even if they do also say they’ve addressed this with the editor. If this truly represents a change in direction it’s fair to explain that and not use the past against the editor; and *don’t* tie it to the new employee as the reason for the change.

      Reply
    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      The manager needs to…manage.

      It’s going to be difficult because the situation hasn’t actually been addressed. I get how it happened. It was group venting that turned into the norm. Even if everyone agrees with the person, no one wants to listen to someone vent all day. Even if the LW finds a new hire who fits in, I’m guessing it’s not a pleasant, productive environment overall. LW needs to pull everyone together and say “We are getting onto too many topics that are non-work related and this has to stop.” Then back that up with actual consequences.

      Reply
    4. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I agree, but I think OP has done her team a huge disservice by allowing the team culture to become one of almost group therapy/support system for a matter of years now. The editor is not just going to feel upset about not getting to rant on politics but also to feeling that her support system has been pulled out from under her, and the other team members may feel the same. And they have reason to be upset and even angry about this, because OP let this dynamic develop. OP does need to do this, but I expect the fallout will be really bad and this team will not survive as a unit very long.

      Reply
      1. Observer*

        but I think OP has done her team a huge disservice by allowing the team culture to become one of almost group therapy/support system for a matter of years now

        And a badly run one, at that.

        and the other team members may feel the same

        On the other hand, they may be relieved. Or discover that not having to tiptoe around editor’s volatility is actually a good trade-off.

        Reply
    5. Sara without an H*

      +1000. This is learned behavior and, OP, you’ve contributed to her learning that it’s safe to behave this way at work. You need to start drawing boundaries before this all blows up in a way that damages your own reputation as a manager.

      Reply
  24. JJ*

    Consider that what you really need new-hire-wise is a remote freelancer. As one, I can confidently say I know very little about the office environments/political leanings of any of my clients, even the long-term ones I speak with frequently. Heck, I only have a vague idea of what my freelance manager of several years (who I communicate with a lot) feels politically.

    Look for an experienced freelancer who has other projects, i.e. someone who’s not looking for temp-to-hire who won’t be interested in integrating with your team. Hire them for like 20 hours per week. Bing bang boom, your workload problems get fixed and you don’t have to worry about integrating anyone into your team environment.

    Reply
    1. Darury*

      That just seems like “We’ll ignore the issue and make sure no one else becomes aware of our unprofessional editor”.

      Reply
      1. JJ*

        True, but it’s not just the editor, it’s the entire team culture. OP can buy themselves time with a freelancer AND not *really* subject a new person to the team. I doubt OP’s team culture will be fixable any time soon (if ever). I mean, realistically she’d probably have to fire the editor and really bring the hammer down on the rest of the team banning political talk, which doesn’t seem likely to me. You can’t really get back that air of professionalism once people are comfortable enough to rant and rave at one another.

        With the clients I have who are kind of toxic or otherwise disagreeable to me, it’s nice because I can just shrug and step away, I have emotional distance whereas a full-timer is much more trapped. Also, people are much more professional with me than they would be if I was an in-office team member, which is what her team needs to start doing.

        Reply
  25. TypityTypeType*

    I am very political and opinionated, and not shy about it, and your editor sounds exhausting and very very difficult to work with. She won’t let other people work (or possibly exist) in peace unless they pass her personal test for ideological purity. That’s … wow.

    In the course of these rants, does she insult people’s motives and intelligence? Call them names? In what other context than politics would that behavior be acceptable in any workplace?

    (Her behavior is also pointless. Even it it were 100 percent desirable that everybody change to her way of thinking, ranting at people is in no way going to get them to do that. She’s just indulging herself.)

    I don’t know if I have any advice other than maybe trying a general ban on political talk, but that almost certainly won’t work — and it’s likely to backlash on the hapless new guy. Good luck, LW.

    Reply
  26. Tracy*

    This working environment sounds horrifying, to be honest. I don’t want to have to try to cope with political discussions at work, no matter what position is held! It’s hard enough to deal with political issues outside of the workplace.

    Reply
  27. Keymaster of Gozer*

    While I do warn new starters at our place that we’re not even slightly tolerant of sexist/homophobic/racist/anti-science/qanon style stuff etc. that’s more because the company is trying to get away from its previous image of being extremely stuffy and overly biased (it’s an old firm) AND that I’ll get really angry at people spouting that stuff.

    But other than that, we’ve all got slightly different viewpoints at work (got a LOT of different religious beliefs for a start!) but when it comes to anything heavily political (I’m not including Covid: viruses aren’t political) I rely on people getting the general hint that this isn’t the place to discuss it.

    In your situation OP, I think that would be a sure fire failure to do. Definitely warn the new starter of the mind of things that will be very sore points to their new boss and not to bring them up.

    And then, start making some very gentle moves away from the very insular clique that seems to have formed. I’ve never known a single company that has been successful with all the staff all being exactly the same minded.

    (Crikey, us in IT can’t even agree on the best operating system! But I don’t want an entire team spouting the supremacy of one of them.)

    Reply
  28. Moolissa*

    I would be a years salary this kind of discussion would have been shut down ages ago if the political views were from the other side. I would be in agreement with most of the views at the letter writer’s workplace, but I would hate to work with people like this. Also people are not automatically pariahs just because they have a different opinion. And this potential hire is being villanized based on a perception when he hasn’t even started there or said anything. Honestly this workplace sounds like a trainwreck.

    Reply
    1. Liza*

      Not automatically, depends whether the difference of opinion is on tax rates and zoning or on what groups get full participation in society.

      Reply
      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Which you may or may not be able to tell from a Facebook post. And the editor sounds like the kind of person who doesn’t see a difference between tax rates/zoning and who gets full participation in society.

        Reply
      2. Observer*

        Except that there absolutely no reason to believe that this potential new hire has views that would exclude people from participation in society. The op says that her group is “ outspoken liberal-democratic, agnostic, feminist, anti-capitalist (and the list goes on).” It’s just absurd to act as though not fitting in with that is close to the same as being a bigot who seems certain people as less than human.

        Reply
        1. Liza*

          Which is why it depends whether his opinions are going to create a hostile work environment for marginalized people or not . The comment was if it was reversed it would be clear and I don’t think it is.

          Reply
    2. lost academic*

      Not in my current office. The opposite kind of thing constantly occurs (even post COVID with everyone being remote) and speaking up against it invites professional retribution.

      Reply
    3. Elizabeth*

      I was part of an office that went from being pretty laidback about political issues and views to one that was stridently conservative in outlook. It became very clear that someone moderate to progressive wasn’t welcome. While it wasn’t why I left after 25 years, it certainly made me feel less comfortable and less unhappy about leaving than I would have otherwise. No one in leadership thought anything about the shift, because they felt it represented community views well.

      Reply
  29. sunny-dee*

    I was in a room when people were discussing some candidates for an open role, and this exact situation came up. The one guy was well experienced and had apparently done well on the phone screen – but he was conservative and they decided not to move forward with him because he would be a “bad culture fit.”

    Reply
  30. irene adler*

    I’m in an environment where many of my co-workers go on and on about political topics. And they are all of the same mind. I hate that I have to listen to them (whether I agree with them or not-usually not). But there’s nothing I can do- the CEO is one of those who likes to rant about political topics. He sets the tone for these things.

    (yeah, I know, get a new job. Well, been job searching for 5 years and counting, so not likely to happen.)

    BUT! I can go to my little office and close the door- for short periods of time. And, my primary role is to get the work done. I focus on that. Folks at least are professional in their interactions with me. That should be an absolute requirement for any workplace. Employees can disagree on the politics but they must maintain professionalism in all work place interactions at all times with all employees. That needs to be imparted to the current group.

    If nothing else, is there a buffer zone the new hire can retreat to?
    Sure, not the most ideal solution, but it’s something.

    Reply
    1. Garlic Knot*

      I was lucky in that my boss supported me, but I had to literally steamroll some people to curb political chatter that was getting out of hand. Good thing I have a personality for that, because my boss is surprisingly conflict-avoidant.

      Reply
  31. Almost Empty Nester*

    I would totally be the toddler in the meme going around that comes down the hall, makes a shocked face, and whirls around to go back where he came from! I would not work in an environment where I was attacked on a regular basis for having a different viewpoint, but also wouldn’t want to be assaulted by political discussions every time I came in the door regardless of which side I was on. It used to be that knowledge of your political views wasn’t a requirement for the workplace. Hellfire editor needs to be firmly disciplined, as she’s harassing and bullying other people under the guise of “the last 4 years were so upsetting to me”. You should be more shocked at the culture you’ve enabled within your team to be completely unwelcoming to new hires.

    Reply
  32. Delta Delta*

    I’m getting some ickiness – I can’t tell if it’s because the editor wouldn’t stand a different opinion from a NEW guy or from a new GUY. Both pieces matter and both bother me. Regardless, the editor sounds like a bully and OP needs to have a serious talk with her before hiring anyone.

    Reply
    1. Temperance*

      Wait, why would that bother you more if she doesn’t want to hear anti-tolerance talk from a straight, white, presumably Christian dude? The most privileged group in the country?

      Reply
      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        No one said it would bother them more if the new guy was a guy. They said they weren’t sure what bothered the EDITOR more.

        Reply
        1. Temperance*

          No, Delta Delta said that both scenarios would bother them, but they aren’t sure which of the options would bother the editor more.

          Reply
      2. BenAdminGeek*

        We don’t know that he’s any of those 3, or all of those 3, or what. And there’s no indication that this guy is going to spout “anti-tolerance” talk. If the guy turns out to be pro-capitalism and she rips into him, how is that helpful to the workplace getting the job done?

        Reply
      3. Boof*

        Because all four of those are protected classes and NOT to be actively discriminated against? So coming down on someone extra hard because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion is no bueno?

        Reply
        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Not wanting to hear the opinion of a conservative straight white male (if he’s straight and white, we don’t know that) on the topic of, say, voting rights laws or the existence of employment discrimination or whether trans people should be allowed to exist is not the same thing as an *employer* discriminating against the guy *because* he’s a guy or white or straight.

          It sounds like I agree with this team on their politics but would not want to work with that editor for even a short period of time. She’s a problem. But there’s a good chance I won’t want to listen to the views of the conservative male potential employee’s views, either, if he were my coworker, and that doesn’t mean I’m committing employment discrimination.

          Reply
          1. Boof*

            I’m talking about the level of hostility the OP describes the editor as bringing. I think at a certain point frequently bringing up sociopolitical topics at work (with no relationship to the actual work) then berating someone for not agreeing, particularly because of their race/gender/religion/sexuality, would eventually get to a hostile working environment level if as pervasive as the LW implies

            Reply
      4. AvonLady Barksdale*

        But my read of the letter is that we’re not necessarily talking about anti-tolerance talk. It sounds like the new guy could say anything that doesn’t exactly align (e.g., he studied macroeconomics, he goes to church, he belongs to a golf club) and he would be trampled by this editor, who would be especially brutal because he happens to be a guy.

        Reply
      5. Observer*

        why would that bother you more if she doesn’t want to hear anti-tolerance talk from a straight, white, presumably Christian dude

        Except that no actually said that. The OP says that Editor won’t tolerate disagreement on ANYTHING – not just bigotry. And that she would be especially hostile to a “new guy“.

        So, hostile to anyone who disagrees with her – bad.
        Especially hostile to anyone new – VERY bad.
        Especially hostile to a GUY – VERY bad.

        Which of those two is worse is the question.

        Reply
  33. TWW*

    Regardless of *what* they’re talking about, it sounds like one problem is the sheer amount of unnecessary conversation occurring.

    I’ve worked in offices where office chatter was frown upon. Sounds oppressive, but it was actually really nice..

    Reply
  34. Sarah M Thomas*

    I’ll take a different tack – what did you find on Facebook? Because that matters. Whether your team is ‘exhausting’ or not, I’d worry a lot more if I cultivated an office where people with racist or sexist views DIDN’T feel uncomfortable. In a lot of small, rural, conservative places, like where I grew up, you didn’t really encounter feminists or anti-racists in school or daily life, so when you first met one in the office, it was a much-needed eye opening. I’m a better person because of all those ‘radical killjoys’ I met in my first jobs.

    Reply
    1. Almost Empty Nester*

      Interesting that you’re assuming this guy is sexist or racist because he’s presenting as more conservative on his Facebook feed.

      Reply
      1. hmmm*

        I bet 99% of you that are liberal would instantly label me from my facebook, which is very private by the way, as conservative just by a few of my memes (some relating to God) and the fact that I am on a competitive shooting team and where I live. And yet not one “political” post in site and no support of any candidate.

        Reply
      1. pleaset cheap rolls*

        In the US at the moment, it’s hella adjacent to racism and sexism, and conservatives in the US have turned a blind eye to the racism and sexism at the core of their political movement.

        People may say “I care about individual liberty and low taxes and am not racist.” but in practice conservatism prevents us from doing anything about racism and sexism. So this is all closely related.

        Reply
    2. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

      I’m assuming it wasn’t racism/sexism/homophobia. If it was, then I think LW would have moved on to another candidate unless they’re just that desperate.

      Everyone is assuming he’s Republican, but he might be a centrist-leaning Dem about to enter real-world Rose Twitter.

      Reply
      1. Sarah M Thomas*

        The LW mentioned their desperation several times. And I also think it’s interesting that my comment did NOT assume the candidate was racist or sexist, but the respondents did. Some of us clearly need those radical killjoys in our own lives too.

        Reply
        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          People are reading it that way because you the only two items you listed were racism and sexism, which does seem to imply that what was found on Facebook was of a racist or sexist nature as opposed to seeing that the guy says he voted for a Republican candidate or that he’s concerned where the money for the American Rescue Plan is going to come from.

          “what did you find on Facebook…I’d worry a lot more if I cultivated an office where people with racist or sexist views…”

          Reply
        2. Simply the best*

          Your comment literally said “I’d worry a lot more if I cultivated an office where people with racist or sexist views didn’t feel uncomfortable.” How are people supposed to take that other than as your assumptions about the candidate?

          Reply
    3. Gretchen Wiener*

      This is a bit of an assumption here.
      What if his FB is just filled with the books he likes about Austrian Economics?
      So yes, conservative, but none of the rest.

      Reply
    4. Observer*

      Whether your team is ‘exhausting’ or not, I’d worry a lot more if I cultivated an office where people with racist or sexist views DIDN’T feel uncomfortable.

      If there were any chance that this is what the OP found, I’m sure she would either have moved on, or asked a different question. The fact that you are jumping to this kind of extreme (even though you claim that are not assuming), despite the fact that it’s highly unlikely in this context, is rather disturbing.

      Reply
    5. Just @ me next time*

      I agree with you. I think the details matter here. If the hill the editor wants to die on is “trans rights are human rights” and the new candidate’s Facebook page shows he’s anti-trans, then I think it would be a good thing for the candidate to feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, if the hill to die on is “guillotine all landlords,” and the candidate belongs to a Facebook group for local landlords, I think it’s on the editor to tone it down in the workplace (and LW to intervene as needed). The reality is probably somewhere in the middle, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to make any blanket statements.
      As long as some people’s political beliefs are “[Specific marginalized group] doesn’t deserve to exist,” we can’t pretend all political beliefs are equal.

      Reply
      1. Observer*

        As long as some people’s political beliefs are “[Specific marginalized group] doesn’t deserve to exist,” we can’t pretend all political beliefs are equal.

        That’s a red herring, though. The OP is not asking about how to on-board someone who is showing seriously bigotry in some respect. She’s asking about bringing on someone who is going to “disagree” with Editor on “Something”. That’s a very different thing.

        Reply
    1. Luke G*

      Not until at least one of the team members starts periodically explaining how YOU TOO CAN MAKE $1,000 A WEEK WORKING FROM HOME and/or attempting to sell poorly-spelled prescription drugs :D

      Reply
  35. Roscoe*

    OP, I think you need to actually deal with the problem here. And the problem isn’t the new guy because his politics are different. The problem is you have an existing employee who doesn’t listen when you tell them to chill out. I can’t imagine the train of thought that the best thing is to possibly not hire someone instead of doing your job and managing a problem employee

    Reply
  36. arly*

    I really feel for the new hire. I started a new job in June 2020. I am a democrat and live in a very liberal area. I was surprised to find that all of the members of my team are hard core republicans and are pretty vocal about it. November to March was pretty rough (they believed every single conspiracy theory they heard) and if I didn’t make good money I definitely would have quit. I try to be quiet and keep my head down when these conversations start, because I don’t want them to learn that I don’t agree with them on something they’re so passionate about. I often worry that there will be repercussions if they find out my political leanings. It’s not a fun environment to work in.

    Reply
    1. BenAdminGeek*

      That really sucks. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with that- it’s ridiculous behavior by your colleagues.

      Reply
    2. Observer*

      OP, please read this comment very, very carefully. Arly should NOT have to be dealing with this. But ask yourself this – is it more ok to subject a conservative person to this than a Democrat? Why?

      If not, maybe you can see your problem more clearly.

      Reply
  37. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

    I think it would definitely be a good thing to inform the potential new hire of the work culture environment. Just because somebody has a different viewpoint or belief doesn’t mean it should affect that person’s work. When somebody’s hired to do a job position they’re supposed to do that job position. A lot of places I’ve worked for have stayed out of talking politics for this very reason. If I am doing a job I want to focus on my work not debate a co-worker. I am being paid to do my job. People are allowed to have different viewpoints. It sounds like some of those people on that team might try to antagonize or make it uncomfortable for the new person if they think he doesn’t fit in with their viewpoint. That sounds like a hostile environment.

    Reply
    1. mockingbird2081*

      I am just imaging how the conversation would go. “Hey, thanks for accepting the job, but I think it is important that you know we have a very intolerant department. We can’t stand people who think differently then we do and we will 100% lump you into the very worst of how we perceive those who believe differently than we act/are/think. You can be the best hire we have ever made who never expresses his political thoughts at work but we will talk about you behind your back and hate you for just existing because we just can not accept anyone who thinks differently than we do”.

      Exhausting and a little sad about how intolerant we have become.

      Reply
  38. GB*

    “…would rather die on whatever hill [they’re] battling that day than let someone (especially a new guy) get away with saying something [they don’t] agree with. It’s exhausting, to be honest.”

    I feel this OP could be talking about the vibe in the AAM commentariat on many recent days. It’s exhausting, to be honest.

    Reply
    1. anastasia*

      are you familiar with how most comment sections work? :-)

      they’re not known for being bastions of sophisticated discourse.

      Reply
    2. Cat Tree*

      There’s a key difference though. A comment section on a website is opt-in. If it gets too exhausting, you can just close the tab.

      A ranting coworker has a captive audience. It’s much harder to avoid a coworker who is constantly talking.

      Reply
      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. If I don’t agree with something on the Internet (a forum or website) I can stop reading and go and do something else. Surfing the web for my amusement / edification is different from being at work where I have less control of my surroundings and people.

        Reply
      2. pancakes*

        Yes. Finding a particular comments section or media outlet exhausting is a great cue to stop reading it.

        Reply
    3. Observer*

      I feel this OP could be talking about the vibe in the AAM commentariat on many recent days. It’s exhausting, to be honest.

      Maybe. But the thing is that you get to walk away from the comments section whenever you want. You don’t even have to start with it in order to gain the benefit of Alison’s opinions. Could you imagine WORKING in this, all day, every day?

      Reply
    4. Anonymous Because the Life I Would Save Is My Own*

      I concur 100%, but after taking a few turns over the coals, I am reconsidering before I post anything if I am just writing to see my opinion in print or if I would possibly be adding to the conversation.

      Reply
  39. Garlic Knot*

    I started shutting down political talk on my team both because at some point it was consuming too much time and because it was spilling over – other people would jump in! My initial approach was to time the conversation and cut it off after N minutes, but then elections happened, and any and all political discussions were banished to happen at lunchtime or otherwise outside of working hours.

    Reply
  40. Velawciraptor*

    It seems to me that this is a good time to talk about respectful workplace guidelines. If your office/team doesn’t have them, now would be a good time to develop and implement them. If you do have them, you can treat the onboarding of your new team member as an opportunity to remind the whole team of what your respectful workplace guidelines are and that you will be holding EVERYONE to them.

    The thing here is that you will then be responsible for holding people for abiding by them. Spirited discussion of opposing guidelines, fine. Attacks on co-workers, not fine and subject to disciplinary measures.

    If being uncivil to co-workers becomes one of those hills that your editor decides they want to die on, let them die on that hill. I know staffing has been an issue, but you cannot let staffing concerns hold your team hostage to someone who behaves disrespectfully to their co-workers. I won’t sugar-coat; it can get uncomfortable and unpleasant. When I’ve had to draw this line in the sand, I’ve received all kinds of attitude, been called everything but a child of God, and have been handed a couple of resignations in a snit (one of which was rescinded–union guideline stuff not really relevant here). But as a manager/supervisor/team lead, it’s your job to set the tone. People will generally live up or down to the expectations you set.

    Reply
    1. Velawciraptor*

      Second sentence of the second paragraph was supposed to say “Spirited discussion of opposing viewpoints,” not “opposing guidelines.”

      Reply
    2. Nicotene*

      Good point, maybe this is the right time for one of those types of meetings (which honestly I personally dislike but whatever) where you create a team agreement of shared values and discuss your team culture etc. This seems big in nonprofit. You might get a facilitator involved. If you create a list of shared values you can then use them in conversations with the editor later.

      Reply
    3. Reba*

      I think a group talk about resetting the team culture, plus an individual much more serious talk with the Hill to Die On Editor, would be well worth it. Whether this new person joins the team or not!

      If Editor actually says, “I can’t help it,” or “this is just who I am” the LW can push back on that firmly, but sympathetically, using this framing of respect and what’s healthy workplace discussion (versus unproductive ranting). You can say something like, “I hear that this is important to you, but the frequency and intensity are not appropriate for work. This is exhausting for your colleagues and people need a break from it when they come to work, and you need to respect that conversational boundary and not assume that everyone wants to talk about this. You need to change this habit to be a strong part of this team.”

      I was also thinking about how changing habits works better when you *replace* the habit, not just say “don’t do that!” I wonder if the team would be open to, like, book club or starting a lunch group where you talk about Ted Lasso or something — deliberately arrange some substitutes for conversation topics.

      Reply
  41. E*

    This type of situation has the potential to lead to illegal discrimination one day. I’ve been following the case of Maya Forstater, who is appealing her termination of employment in the UK. The judge has yet to make his decision, but the Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened on her side. An interesting point that the EHRC made was that firing somebody on the grounds of gender-critical feminism could be indirect sex discrimination because a woman is more likely to hold those views than a man.

    (I am NOT trying to start a debate on the rights and wrongs of the Forstater case. Just thought that particular point the EHRC made was an interesting one which is relevant to OP’s post.)

    Reply
    1. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

      In most US jurisdictions, discrimination based on political affiliation is A-okay. This team is still messy regardless.

      Reply
    2. Littorally*

      I’m sorry, that’s bullshit logic. Would it be okay to say then that anti-sexual harassment laws are discriminatory because men are more likely to commit sexual harassment?

      Diversity win! The person who wants to take away my rights is a woman!

      Reply
  42. I should really pick a name*

    “I also don’t want to give my team the impression that the new hire “doesn’t think like us” and it becomes an awkward team dynamic where people feel like they can’t say what they think, or our work and inter-departmental relationships suffer”

    Too late, you already have that dynamic.

    When someone “would rather die on whatever hill she’s battling that day than let someone (especially a new guy) get away with saying something she doesn’t agree with”, you do not have a culture where people feel like they can say what they think.

    Reply
  43. Tinkerbell's Mom*

    I agree with Alison, the office culture is wrong.

    I find it ironic that employees at a brokerage firm are anti-capitalist. I think the stock market is an almost-toxic example of capitalism with its focus on shareholder returns often at the expense of employees salaries and benefits.

    Quite frankly, politics has no place in a brokerage firm and will (if it hasn’t already) cost them clients.

    Reply
    1. Littorally*

      If they’re creatives, they probably don’t have much client contact, frankly.

      Plus, you’d be surprised at how many eat-the-rich types there are behind the scenes here :) Working for a brokerage firm has, if anything, pushed me further left.

      Reply
      1. VintageLydia*

        I know a lot of folks that work at or for banks and nearly all of them are some flavor of leftist haha.

        Reply
    2. Black Horse Dancing*

      Ah, many finance firms are all about politics. Why else are stock markets linked to presidents?

      Reply
  44. double spicy*

    Maybe I’ve misunderstood this letter (and I hope the OP will chime in), but my initial take was that this candidate hasn’t yet been given an offer and the OP is debating making one given the existing team dynamics. Also, this workplace culture sounds exhausting, and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere that talked about politics this frequently (whether or not I agreed with people’s views).

    Reply
  45. David*

    It’s also worth keeping in mind events larger companies are going through (and how that might replicate in micro).

    For example, tech’s had 3 high-profile cases recently of CEOs going “nope, no more politics, diversity hires were a mistake, we’re going to provide severance to anybody who isn’t onboard with the new direction”, so depending on how proximate your company is to that sector making a move towards “no more politics at work” might be cast as in line with that trend.

    Ultimately, I don’t know that there’s a good way to cleave “less politics, in this specific context, in ways that apply to scaring off new employees but *aren’t* a referendum on people whose lives are inherently political in the current atmosphere”.

    My guess? You mention this being a group that’s done well by feeling aligned when things around you/them are more chaotic. Disrupting that risks making that get ejected into the broader company.

    Reply
  46. Cat Lover*

    I think people need to realize ANY political thought taken too far can wrap around to being intolerant (and I’m liberal).

    The culture has gotten to that place.

    Plus, a lot of people just… don’t want to talk politics all the time, especially at work, no matter your affiliation. It’s exhausting.

    Reply
    1. Jaybeetee*

      I’m heartened by how many comments call out the editor as a bully. It was a talking point on another forum a few years ago how much bullying and abuse can slide under the radar in leftist circles if it’s wrapped in progressive-sounding language. But yes, gatekeeping and ideological purity are problematic all around. Even if this dude is a Conservative White Guy, he deserves to be able to go to work and go home without having his identity picked over by colleagues.

      Reply
  47. ATX*

    It really sounds like you need to coach your term on being more professional and not bringing up any debate related/controversial topics. They are adults, and they can certainly help themselves and refrain from that.

    It’s one thing to mention going to a Women’s March or attending a protest, but not loudly voicing opinions related to topics that can be heated or become heated is not okay. Also asking people what their political affiliations are, discussing election results, etc., also not okay. At my office, nothing is ever discussed unless it’s 1:1 with someone I’ve known for a long time and I know what their stance is (and it’s a quiet discussion that rarely ever happens).

    It’s okay to be opinionated, but at work it’s not appropriate. Be respectful, kind, professional, keep opinions to ourselves.

    (this doesn’t include people who are downright racist or sexist, or those who bully/harass, I am all for calling out those mfers).

    Reply
  48. Bandit*

    My partner is essentially in the new hire’s shoes.

    He started a new job just before the pandemic hit and had to WFH at a completely new job. He was told by multiple managers and coworkers he needed to “hang out” in the zoom room during his shift so he could ask questions. Turns out the zoom room is just 4-5 coworkers talking politics all day. It makes my partner super uncomfortable to not only hear the constant political chatter, but to also try to break into those convos to ask questions.

    It got to the point where he stopped going to the zoom room at all…and then got put on a pip because he felt so awkward asking any of these people for help.

    So, yeah. I don’t care what side of the debate you’re on–politics and work just don’t go together.

    Reply
  49. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP, it seems like your team has time to sit around and chat about lots of non-work topics during the day. Maybe you should start by addressing that productivity issue.

    Reply
  50. Molly McGuire*

    Ask yourself this OP: If that ‘hill to die on’ staff member had political opinions completely opposite of the ones they hold now, would they still be allowed to spout them at the office or would they have actually been stopped long ago?

    Reply
  51. Machiamellie*

    I’d recommend opening up your hiring to remote applicants. Limiting it to local people and making people work in the office will really hinder your search.

    If you do decide to open it up to remote applicants, let us know – I know the PERFECT person for you! :)

    Reply
  52. Name goes here*

    Am I the only one who feels weird about the way that OP is having second thoughts, based on her review of the guy’s social media?

    On the one hand, as someone who comes from a profession where public social media usage under our real name is not uncommon, I get that we establish our reputations there; what we post is part of how we establish ourselves in the field. But on the other, something about the way that OP describes conducting interviews and regular hiring processes (which went really well!) and then quietly going to peruse his FB page feels . . . sneaky?

    I dunno, I have mixed thoughts about this, but I do think that in general, hiring decisions are best made on the basis of public, known encounters — e.g. the interview or other materials; rather than behind-the-scenes social media digging. (This is not an absolute, just a rule of thumb.) And if the social media digging is what’s setting off the alarm bells, that probably does indicate a problem with workplace culture, since the actual hiring processes, which are focused on the job, are sending different signals than the social media review.

    Reply
    1. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

      So I generally agree with this comment, but I don’t agree that it’s sneaky to look at a potential hire’s FB page. If he chooses not to use the privacy settings, then it’s public info. And frankly, I would want to know if my new hire was posting something grossly offensive where literally anyone can see it. It would tell me about their judgment and their temperament.

      But honestly, short of something that screams This Is a Problem (and people’s mileage will vary on that), employers shouldn’t be basing hiring decisions off social media. You’re hiring someone, not picking your new BFF. So I think the perusal of social media here is another expression of the broader boundary issues on this team, where it seems like they’ve become each other’s support systems.

      Reply
      1. Name goes here*

        “Short of something that screams This Is a Problem . . . employers shouldn’t be basing hiring decisions off social media.” Yes, this sums up what I’m getting at, thank you.

        Reply
  53. It's All Elementary*

    Yeah, you can agree with everything everyone believes, but working in an environment where it is all anyone talks about, and passionately, is miserable in my opinion.

    Reply
  54. Dave*

    Have they actually hired this person yet? I know they use the term “new hire” but they also say:

    “We’ve finally interviewed a young man who I think would be a great candidate.”

    “I know that whoever we hire will, at some point…”

    Reply
  55. Ray Gillette*

    Echoing the message of “you’ve gotta shut this down.” One of my direct reports is like this – generally a Very Opinionated person who reads the news a lot – and while I agree with him more than I disagree with him, I still have to shut it down because it’s disruptive and exhausting.

    As an aside, while I get the phraseology of “very liberal,” it irks me – liberal is a specific political position. If a person’s politics are farther left than that position, they aren’t more liberal, they have different beliefs!

    Reply
  56. Aunt Bee's Pickles*

    I find it kind of hilarious that LW touts the “feminist” culture of their workplace while simultaneously stating that her female editor does not have agency to control her own words, actions, or emotions.

    Reply
    1. pancakes*

      I don’t think the letter writer would say the editor lacks agency because of her gender but because she’s not very mature or doesn’t have enough of a personal life apart from work or whatnot. Leaving gender out of this isn’t complicated and makes far more sense.

      Reply
  57. CalamityChemist*

    Yes, in general political discussion at work is exhausting. This goes for rant-fests with like-minded people or debates with people of differing views. The businesses I have worked for have generally skewed politically conservative and it was just better for everyone if we all talked about something else. Granted, I hate debating politics or social issues across the board, but I think it infuses work places with a lot of hostility and judgement that really gets in the way of what you are there to do. As often the lone liberal in the room, I find that the political opposition is way more sensitive about these topics and that for my own sanity, letting them say their piece and keeping my wise-ass comments to myself is best for work.

    Of course, I am currently dealing with an issue where I am a somewhat new employee and the coworker I work closest with really likes to use a racial slur for Chinese people…but, per him, he’s not using it to describe the Chinese people as a whole, just the evil ones (like their government). He claims to not be racist and that anyone who would call him that doesn’t know what is in his heart. He knows I don’t like it, but thinks this caveat explains it away and I am exhausted at the prospect of having to explain that choosing to use a racial slur causes harm to all people of a group, not just the “bad ones”. I feel like I need to tread lightly to maintain our otherwise excellent working dynamic. Baby steps. I think I will slowly educate this person on the nature of nuance.

    Reply
    1. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

      Your racist coworker knows exactly what he’s doing when he uses racial slurs and then winks (metaphorically) and says, “I’m not talking about the Good Ones.” You’re not going to “educate” him because he is very experienced at this game.

      You’re at a point where you have to choose between being not racist yourself but coddling racism (i.e., tolerating actual racial slurs to keep the peace) and being anti-racist (doing something to make the slurs stop). I’m not saying you should go scorched earth and burn down your job, but surely there’s something you can do to show that you, at least, are not a safe space for your coworker’s racism.

      Reply
      1. Observer*

        but surely there’s something you can do to show that you, at least, are not a safe space for your coworker’s racism.

        Really? Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t. @CalamityChemist doesn’t give us enough information to know. And it’s it’s really pretty crummy to respond to someone expressing their discomfort with misbehavior by blaming them for not stopping the behavior.

        Reply
        1. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

          This bystander (or should I say “observer”) attitude right here is a major reason the US has such a virulent problem with racism.

          Reply
          1. CalamityChemist*

            The reason that I have heard his various explanations is because I have reacted and said something to him when he says the word. Hence why he knows I don’t like it. I will continue to respond to it in this way. I shared the situation because it is something lousy I am currently dealing with at the workplace. I am working on it, it just sucks that it’s a thing I have to deal with and it is an example of why I would prefer people keep their belief systems out of work because it is not actually my job to deal with it. But I have to, obviously.

            It’s a small company where everyone is “from the neighborhood”, except for me and a few others. I am the lone woman in a technical role here also so I have to be delicate about how I work my way in here. It’s easy to tell me to both go head on “I am not a safe space for your racism” and also that I don’t have to “go scorched earth and burn down your job”. The reality is I have to be delicate with how I go about it. This is the other person in a department of two with me. Reacting as I have, and engaging in small conversations about it is how I have to do it for now.

            Reply
            1. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

              White people’s fear of discomfort ensures that racism will persist.

              I don’t know you or the dynamics at your job, so I’m not giving you a script for how to assert yourself. Being direct doesn’t mean being confrontational or ugly, but it isn’t everyone’s style, and if you think that your “excellent working relationship” with your racist coworker is so fragile that you can’t say boo to him, then keep doing what you’re doing. But recognize that allowing your racist coworker to use racist slurs in your presence and debating Chinese people with him to teach him “nuance” is basically the same as doing nothing and may even be encouraging him.

              Reply
              1. Eukomos*

                It doesn’t sound like she fears discomfort, it sounds like she fears losing her new job. And how is it her “allowing” him to do anything, she’s not his boss. Slogans don’t replace reality.

                Reply
          2. Observer*

            Right. Because it’s always the fault of a person who might not be able to afford to lose their job. Or who is already marginalized in some other way. THAT person is definitely the reason we have a problem with racism.

            Not because people who actually have power use it to support their racism. No, THAT could never be the major reason. And people “doing something” about racism by telling OTHERS how to fight racism without knowing anything about those other people surely doesn’t have anything to do with it either.

            /sarc

            Reply
            1. Bob Loblaw, Esq.*

              You don’t have to be a rich, able-bodied, straight, tall, good-looking white man with a 4.0 GPA, a degree from Harvard, and 10% body fat to have the power to tell your coworker to stop using racial slurs in your presence. I have seen it done by people who are “marginalized in some way” and I have done it myself. I would have thought that not allowing racial slurs was the easiest form of “allyship” besides putting a black square on your IG, but I learn something new every day. I’m clocking out.

              Reply
            2. Jackalope*

              Yes, this. CalamityChemist is a new employee who is also an outsider (not “from the neighborhood”) and also the lone woman in a technical role. She also presumably wants to be able to eat and keep a roof over her head. It’s easy for someone else to say that she’s not taking strong enough action, but she knows her situation and is doing the best that she can. Let’s blame the person who’s actually making the racist comments, instead of the anti-racist person who is trying to thread the needle of standing up for people of color while still keeping her job.

              (And as an aside, he might well not listen. I’ve had experience with people I’ve been direct with, who maybe stop using that one word or sentence, but because they’re steeped in the culture it comes from, will think of 15 other slurs faster than I can breathe, and not even realize they’re using them. If it’s a co-worker you can’t just opt out of that conversation. So there’s that, too.)

              Reply
    2. cmcinnyc*

      Or, you could just report it to HR. Chinese people, and Asian people generally, have been getting attacked in my neighborhood since late 2019 over this chuckle-headed stuff. It is not harmless, it is not minor, it is not “he’s a great guy but.”

      Reply
      1. pancakes*

        Yes, exactly, good grief! That he prefers to think of himself as not-racist is entirely beside the point.

        Reply
      2. Observer*

        Yes, if you have a reasonably competent HR, please go to them. This is NOT acceptable. And you won’t be able to “educate” him, either.

        Reply
        1. CalamityChemist*

          We don’t have HR here. As I said, I am dealing with it in the way that I can so far. I have to work very closely with him. This particular thing is, obviously, trash. It is also somewhat of a known thing and so I am finding the people who know him well and have a better chance of putting the kibosh on it, all while I am personally trying to.

          Reply
    3. Boof*

      Just report it to your manager and HR…. it’s not your job to get him to understand/agree that using a racial slur just to describe the ones he doesn’t like is still racist. Especially if he already knows you don’t like it and keeps going; he’s already gotten as much notice as he should need. Most big workplaces are cracking down on exactly this kind of things so let the folks who should do that know.

      Reply
  58. PT*

    “What if it turns out the new guy loves an aggressive debate and his viewpoints are deeply repugnant to the rest of you? ”

    This is important. I worked with young people during a heated election year and I used to remind them of this when they would initiate political discussions at work. Yes, politics are important, and it’s great that you are involved! But a lot of political issues get personal really quickly (the ones that were up that year were pertinent to our community in particular), and if you are discussing them, you are giving the other side permission to voice their views, and now you and everyone nearby gets an earful of hurtful insults, so please use extra caution and judgement in such conversations.

    Reply
  59. Ellena*

    The Die on the Hill employee needs to be stopped immediately. I don’t care if she deserves world championship award in editing, she is toxic and creates a hostile work environment which can end up in a lawsuit. That will be her Hill (and sadly not just hers but potentially OP’s too).

    Reply
    1. Black Horse Dancing*

      Unless she attacks on protected classes, where is a lawsuit? Being a jerk is not illegal. Discussing politics is not illegal. Against company policy, maybe. OP needs to re set the entire time, not just the editor. OP is as much to blame as anyone. This needs to be a whole new change.

      Reply
  60. CatPerson*

    Well, I’m politically liberal and I don’t think that I would like that environment. No wonder you’re so busy if you spend that much time talking about politics. Who wants to wade in that mud all day?

    Reply
  61. Cordyceps*

    I work for a mega-corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees and have several dozen relationships with coworkers that I really like and have a great working relationship with. Care to guess how many of those coworkers political views I even know about? ONE
    Because we have also become close personal friends. But even then, it is very rare that we even talk about that stuff.

    OP, the culture of your team seems deeply flawed. Your editor seems to be just a straight up bully and you, as the manager, have allowed this problem to fester to the point that you are having difficulty filling a business-critical role. I bet this editor that “just can’t help herself” would learn to help herself pretty darn quick if she were on a CAP/PIP with possible termination looming at the end of it.

    I’m really sorry to be harsh, but this sounds like a pretty harsh situation for your other direct reports to have to work in. I’m moderately liberal on a number of issues, but I’d be out the door pretty quick if I was subjected on a daily basis to someone like your editor. Again, I’m not trying to be rude to you OP, but I’m trying to express how wildly abnormal and inappropriate that type of behavior is in the workplace. Even if new-conservative-graphic-designer-guy were not even in the picture, you’d still have a major problem on your hands.

    Reply
  62. Observer*

    I’m going to be more blunt than Alison – you need to change the culture of your department. And you need to be willing to let go of that editor if it comes down to it. She’s trouble.

    Just for starters – you mostly agree with her, yet YOU find her “exhausting”. Are you really willing to only hire people who are in lockstep with her ideas? You’re having a hard time filling a necessary position – “desperate” in fact. Why on earth would you be willing to constrain your hiring pool any further.

    I know that whoever we hire will, at some point, say something to light her fuse and it will be hellfire for everyone.

    Is she good enough that you are willing to leave this position unfilled? Of fill it with a warm but incompetent body? Seriously. Because the reality is that if this true, no person, even one who is pretty much in the same political camp, is likely to stick around – certainly not someone who is good and has options.

    If the answer is no you NEED to rein her in. Or rather you need to make sure the she reins herself in or you let her go.

    And despite our many attempts at talking with her about this issue, she just can’t help herself

    Please. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if she can “help herself”or not. This HAS. TO. STOP. You need to stop “attempting to talk to her” and make some new expectations clear. This has nothing to do with whether her opinions are right or wrong. This has to do with the fact that her BEHAVIOR is exhausting and out of line in the workplace.

    I also don’t want to ~~~Snip~~~ people feel like they can’t say what they think, or our work and inter-departmental relationships suffer.

    In fact, healthy adults know that they cannot and should not always say what they think. If your staff has totally lost that filter, it’s time to get it back. And in fact, if you are worried about inter-departmental relationships, this is a key.

    What makes all of this more urgent is this:

    You say that she “would rather die on whatever hill she’s battling that day than let someone (especially a new guy) get away with saying something she doesn’t agree with” That bolding is yours. It’s incredibly problematic that she would take that kind of attitude to anyone joining the team. If it’s obvious that she’s being especially ferocious to someone who happens to have committed the crime of being male, you are REALLY asking for trouble. If you allow it, you could be looking at a significant legal issue.

    Reply
    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Knowing when to keep one’s opinions to oneself is definitely a key part of adult behaviour! I mean, nobody wants or needs a running commentary of what pisses me off today or yesterday or last week.

      Not my workmates, not my staff, not my friends, not my husband….it would probably annoy the cat too.

      Reply
  63. Liberal feminist*

    While I probably agree with the viewpoints on your team, it just sounds like too much energy is being spent being passionate about politics to be a healthy environment. That work environment might be suitable at a planned parenthood clinic or a campaign manager’s office. But at a brokerage office, it just sounds unhealthy and exhausting.

    Reply
  64. Erik*

    Creative Director here. @OP, I hope you take Allison’s advice to heart. As a fellow creative, I know we are wildly misunderstood in most environments we end up in. This often means upper management leaves us to our own devices because they see us as all the misfit toys. But this is bad for them and for creatives because fundamentally we just want to make good work and this “hands off the crazy kids” approach lets exactly these kinds of things fester.

    I work for a really conservative company, too. But unlike you I live in an extremely liberal place. So naturally, the stuff you are talking about bubbles up. I’ve had to gently and not-so-gently remind my folks that sometimes a conversation doesn’t belong in the room. Whether we all agree is irrelevant. We take paychecks from people who may or may not agree with us and if we value that relationship even at just that base transactional level, we should mind how we hold space for views opposed to ours and consider the channel we use to express it. They’ve figured it out. We have a text chain. I’ve excused myself from it and gone back to it on and off. But company email and slack have boundaries and everyone knows it.

    Creative Director, make no mistake here. You set the tone. You create the space. If your editor is running amok over this, have a frank, private and definitive discussion with her. Tell her that this is both unacceptable and continuing with it has consequences as she contributes to a counterproductive and unprofessional environment. Explain what happens if it isn’t addressed. And then do it.

    And tell your new designer how excited you are, but make sure you clarify that it’s a bit of an outspoken crew. Help her/him feel welcome. Help the whole team welcome this newbie and set the tone! You are a creative leader and can empower your team to create a fabulous environment all around themselves.

    As creatives we are highly adaptable and capable of change. Lean into that muscle. And remember you’re not alone even if in that org you work for it can feel that way. Holler sometime if you think it’ll help.

    Listen to Allison. She has your ticket.

    Reply
  65. Sled dog mama*

    I work with someone much like the editor, she is always right, has an opinion on everything (even things she has never heard of) can’t stand to let anyone else have the last word and everything is a hill to die on. She often says she can’t help herself. She is exhausting. She clearly can help because she has taken to giving people the silent treatment when she decides she has been wronged.
    She also claims that everything is an accommodation for her OCD.
    We’re slowly addressing these issues with her, including that no you can’t just decide that taking your coworkers papers (or other work) and completing/filing without telling them is not a reasonable accommodation.
    This is a long slow process but if

    Reply
    1. Sled dog mama*

      Not sure where the rest of the sentence went.
      This is a long slow process but if you are willing to start now and stand firm with everyone you can transform this situation into one where people with wildly varying opinions work together without issue. Will you lose a person (editor or new hire) along the way, possibly. But especially in Editor’s case is that the right person for the team if you are looking for a team that can appreciate and acknowledge each other’s strengths and complement each other’s weaknesses

      Reply
  66. Manders*

    This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately! I hate conflict and try to avoid speaking about a lot of my political views at work, but I have friends who feel like they don’t have a choice about doing so because their gender identity, sexuality, race, or religion *is* politicized in a way that’s visible and can’t be turned off in the office. Sometimes things that feel minor to me are really emblematic to them of not being respected or seen for who they really are. And we’re in a very liberal area–I think some of them would be even more hypervigilant if they were living in a conservative religious area and the world outside of work felt hostile.

    Is the editor dying on every hill even tangentially related to politics, or is she talking about her own personal experiences as a marginalized person? I do feel like that can change the way these things are approached at work.

    Reply
  67. CurrentlyBill*

    A couple thoughts…

    When someone is willing to die on a bunch of hills, let them.

    Actually, it all feels like someone could make an office sport of winding up the editor with seemingly innocuous comments and timing her rants.

    Of her rants go against religion or conservative Christians or other religious groups, it also does put you at risk of a hostile workplace harassment complaint. Obviously conservative and religious are not necessarily synonymous but they can be closely related and it’s easy to cross that line in criticism and open yourself to a lawsuit for allowing that environment.

    Reply
    1. Badger*

      “Of her rants go against religion or conservative Christians or other religious groups, it also does put you at risk of a hostile workplace harassment complaint. Obviously conservative and religious are not necessarily synonymous but they can be closely related and it’s easy to cross that line in criticism and open yourself to a lawsuit for allowing that environment.”

      Thank you, I knew there was risk of a hostile workplace complaint but I didn’t know quite how to articulate it.

      Reply
  68. Twill*

    Yeah just came here to say I am about as liberal as they come, and I would R U N from this work environment!!!

    Reply
  69. singlemaltgirl*

    having working in traditional/conservative environments before, there is no ‘political’ talk – it’s just status quo demeaning, demoralizing, mentally exhausting, etc for those who aren’t white, middle class (or higher) and who don’t fit the gender stereotypes and so on. it always seems to be ok for BIPoC, women, LGBTQ2+ people to code switch, to swallow their discomfort, to smile politely, to not ‘hear’ the denial of their personhood, their culture, their identities laughed about, joked about, and degraded. you know, the women are ‘girls’ and the men are men. women are look better in heels, and your natural hair should be straight, and don’t ever bring up the partner that doesn’t fit in with the heteronormative culture.

    i can’t say for certain how ‘extreme’ the culture is or if it just ‘feels’ that way given they are in a conservative office where the politics are so ingrained as conservative it isn’t considered ‘political’ – just the detractors of said culture are. the editor can help herself but probably finds it mentally exhausting to be faced with microaggressions on the regular. frankly, i’d find another place to work, for all of them. there’s plenty of conservative/traditionalists out there (mostly men) who would be happy to take jobs away from women (who should be home tending their families anyway….). i can probably guess that in such an environment, being ‘feminist’ is simply asking women to be treated and seen as equitably as the men and it would absolutely grate so much you’d need some time to vent.

    it’d be great if places treated people regardless of gender, race, culture, religion, etc. equitably – but given that’s a political statement – white people usually have the luxury of denying ‘politics’ when it suits them while others do not – but that’s not the world we live in. that being said, the manager needs to manage the culture. if the organizational culture is traditional/conservative and all that comes with, all her dept hires need to be aware of that and to either tow the line or move along. she probably needs to do a housecleaning since some people code switch and ‘go along to get along’ better than others. it takes a great amount of mental energy to deny who you are in order to fit in to the white, heteronormative, judeo christian default. knowing that’s what you’re going to have to put up with is important for any hire to know.

    Reply
    1. Spencer Hastings*

      “Judeo-Christian” = “Christian, but we pay lip service to the Jews and pretend they agree with us on everything, and ignore them when they don’t.”

      (at least, that is my impression, as someone who was raised Jewish)

      Reply
  70. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    Oof, this sounds…terrible, if I’m honest. I recently worked with someone who would die on ANY hill (and I mean ANY hill, including work policies that didn’t affect her job…they’d previously affected her job, but after a reorganization, they didn’t). It was EXHAUSTING and she was not thought of fondly amongst anyone who had to work with her for more than a couple of hours. It was hard because I really liked her as a person! But if anything came up that she had a dissenting opinion on, it was terrible.

    I shut political conversations down with her. We differed on some things and agreed on others, but because I didn’t want to have an endless debate about any of it and staying silent felt like implied agreement, even concerning things I feel deeply about, I felt that just saying, “Okay, well, I’m done talking about this,” was the best way to go. I cannot imagine working in an environment in which this was (inadvertently or not) encouraged.

    I also had a hard time with an entirely different set of coworkers who I had to share space with whose only conversation topics were Weather and The Most Depressing News Stories They Heard That Day. I was really struggling with my mental health at that time and hearing about heinous crimes didn’t help. There was even a particular story that I’d been avoiding given the headline and my emotional state at the time. I told my coworker that I’d been avoiding it when she brought it up and she felt that was a signal to tell me about every gruesome detail of the crime. It was very frustrating.

    All that being said, I obviously wouldn’t fit in in this environment. I’d absolutely want to know if this was the sort of culture I was walking into (though I’d prefer to be given the information and left to decide for myself rather than having someone decide for me what I can and cannot tolerate). And, as Alison implied, I don’t think I’m remotely alone in feeling this way. It’s not that I never discuss politics — even with people I disagree with — but having experienced the dogged determination of people who NEED others to hear what they have to say…it IS exhausting and it’s definitely something I would dread as an employee if I knew that I’d have to face it every day.

    (Also, I obviously don’t know Dies on Any Hill, but in my experience, the kind of people looking for a fight like that often don’t express their opinions kindly or with any indication of having an open mind, which will make many who disagree with them feel as if they’re implying that they’re stupid, reprehensible, etc. and certainly won’t encourage healthy discourse. So, the employee that disagrees may silently go through their job assuming that one of their coworkers would outwardly hate or deride them if they knew the truth about their views. It’s just…not healthy behavior to allow, and may already be affecting fellow employees whether they’ve said anything or not.)

    Reply
    1. Sled dog mama*

      I see you’ve met my former co-worker who would die on any hill that came up (surely there can only be one of her).

      Reply
  71. Nancy*

    OP you need to be stricter with the editor about what can/cannot be discussed in the office.

    My views are probably close to the editor’s. I still would not want to work in that office environment and would not be happy to find out after accepting the job. Plenty of people can agree with someone and still not want to listen ab