Zealots decided business was expendable.
Long ago and in another universe, I was a Republican. It seemed a good fit, and I had a choice; Dad was an Eisenhower Republican and Mom was a Roosevelt Democrat, and they got along.
Democrats, I thought, spent too much time studying their navels; too much talky talk, committees, an overdose of democracy. Republicans appointed someone to represent basic ideas and then sent them off to vote, or run the government, so the rest of us could get back to the 9 to 5 routine.
Remember, this was back in the days before the 24-hour news cycle, cable TV, the internet and cellphone productions of YouTube.
Anyway, I voted for Goldwater in my first presidential election because I thought he'd keep us out of Vietnam, and if he didn't, we wouldn't spend much time there before the whole thing would be over, like a John Wayne movie. I usually voted for Republicans at the national level, but paid no attention at all at the state and local levels.
I was aware that there were partisan zealots, but they were harmless unless you insulted their candidate. Sometimes, when things were slow, someone would intentionally say something negative about the other guy's politics just to have some entertainment. There wasn't much on TV, and this was before there was a 24-hour soccer, band practice, yoga cycle in every family.
Back in the day, I wrote columns that were vilified by liberals as being the rantings of a Cro-Magnon cretin. When I became the business manager of a newspaper bureau, I got involved with the Chamber of Commerce board, and others, and was president of the Chamber for a while, representing the best interests of small local firms. Good, solid conservative guy, supposedly.
What I knew by then was that businesses can survive most political swings as long as there remains a certain amount of predictability. The enemy of business is not liberalism, nor conservatism; it is uncertainty.
I liked the Republican approach because they at least acknowledged that being in business was not, in itself, an immoral act. Making a profit was not an evil thing. Some of my Democrat friends seemed to think that the role of business was to donate money to charity.
Big business was less conscientious about social issues simply because they were removed, distant and more interested in their investors than their customers, or the public at large. But I was still pro-business, for making changes gradually and incrementally, and including business in the dialog affecting quality of life and public issues.
Local businesses have always been generous. If there wasn't a liberal or even a moderate Democrat within 30 miles (and there aren't many), hungry children would be fed, clothed and provided with holiday gifts. Not a lot of fanfare, either. It's just the right thing to do.
But please, government, give us some certainty, some predictability and some respect.
So it is with a great deal of consternation that I read stats put out by a conservative think tank - not a flaming liberal foundation - called Macroeconomic Advisers, that shows the biggest torpedo blasting holes in the American economy is being delivered by the politically-motivated manufactured crises of the past two years. The chaos that the libertarian wing of the GOP is so proud of.
But that shutdown we just had? Not business friendly. The sequester that the conservative Republicans demanded? Turns out the 5 percent cut in government spending was too drastic and has negatively affected business across the board.
In short, the study shows that the convulsions brought about mostly by absolutist tea party pandering politicians has scared business, left it unwilling to hire, buy equipment, expand, give raises. Employees are hoarding money, fearful of losing their jobs, which hurts other retail firms, and the manufacturers, and the distributors.
For all the rhetoric out of Washington that it's all about jobs, the intransigence of the absolutists has resulted in about 2 million fewer jobs. The unemployment rate would be closer to 6.5 percent. Gross Domestic Product would be at 4 percent, not 2.5.
Staunch conservatives, of course, will continue to ignore the facts and blame the gridlock on Democrats - or "liberals," a word they seem to consider a slur.
The fact is, the Democrats put forth a candidate for president that won the national vote not once, but twice, which suggests that most people wanted to see us doing better than we have as a result of the Republicans continuing to try to sabotage what they were unable to win at the ballot box.