I do not share the political position that Mr. Orr put forward in an ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader. But I understand why he did and the politics he was supporting.
Politics is much like religion. You either actively search for what you believe to be most consistent with your interests and values, or you adopt the religion and politics of your family and community.
I believe Mr. Orr’s politics were learned and adopted from the community that he politically ‘came of age in’. Not his teens or twenties, but rather his thirties and beyond.
When Mr. Orr finished his hockey career, he was a legend and bankrupt. He probably had limited professional skills beyond his considerable hockey abilities. What he had developed was determination, a good heart, and a world-class reputation. This is what he needed to leverage to succeed in his post hockey years.
I suspect that Mr. Orr’s financial success depends in large part on people, particularly businessmen, who valued his company and his endorsement. Given the regional nature of hockey almost a half century ago this probably meant he was supported by businessmen in the U.S. northeast. Having a legendary hockey star on hand to shake hands at a car dealership, or to speak at a sales meeting, would have been a good business investment. Although I do not know the details of Mr. Orr’s business activities, we have seen how his presence at a Parry Sound event can bring out folks and open wallets for charitable causes. That ability can be leveraged for charity and business.
The politics of these northeast U.S. businessmen would have been conservative and Republican. Being adopted by this community, not as a shill, but as a legend who could connect to people, meant that he learned their style and their politics. It wasn’t a matter of not biting the hand that feeds you but rather a belief born out of experience that these are good people, and their politics make sense. Until some four years ago taking out an ad in support of a Republican president would not have been newsworthy or polarizing.
I worked in the U.S. for the better part of three decades. I would estimate that more than 80% of my American business friends vote Republican. These are good people with whom I don’t agree when it comes to politics. Some are mortified by the behaviour of the current president and just don’t want to discuss it. How they voted last month I don’t know, but I suspect most voted Republican down ballot and did not check the box for president. While they might not have been willing to support Trump, they certainly weren’t going to vote for a Democrat. They have a conscience but are still Republicans to the core.
I think Mr. Orr was encouraged by his ‘community’ to place the ad. If you benefit from having Republican connections, you sometimes have to prove you are ‘all-in’. It’s not unlike a religion where you are expected to demonstrate your commitment by going door to door to share the faith, or standing on a corner and asking for donations, or even going to war. Fortunately, it’s not like an inner-city gang where you prove your loyalty by ‘offing’ a member of an opposing gang.
Let’s cut Mr. Orr some slack and appreciate him for what he is and what he does. We shouldn’t judge people by their race, religion or politics. Let’s judge people by their actions, not their opinions.