In March 2014, Brendan Eich was appointed CEO of the Mozilla Corporation. Eich was well-qualified for the position—he had co-founded the company and served as its chief technical officer. Yet his tenure lasted less than two weeks.
Eich was forced to resign not for any corporate malfeasance or personal scandal. Instead, he was targeted by progressives for prior political activity. In 2008, Eich had donated money to support California’s Proposition 8, a proposed law to define marriage as heterosexual union. LGTBQ activists advertised his opposition to same-sex marriage, created a petition to demand his resignation, and urged users to boycott Mozilla’s web browser. They succeeded.
I remember Eich’s cancellation clearly because it was the moment I internalized fear for my job security, when I understood that my ability to raise children, send them to a decent school, and pay my bills was contingent on not offending progressive orthodoxies. It was less about the specifics of gay marriage and more that I understood it was not safe, economically, to express conservative political or religious views. Adherence to progressive ideology—ideas that go far beyond the now-settled issue of gay marriage—was becoming a basic prerequisite for employment and economic mobility.
I’ve come back to this incident again and again as a key to understanding the right’s embrace of Donald Trump.