I feel like I’m in the election cycle that never ends. As of this writing, Election Day is tomorrow and I couldn’t be happier. I’m ready for this to be over and ready to have my friends and family back. Regardless of whether you are red or blue, own a small business or work in one, we have work to do:
- Apologize to your colleagues and work friends: I hope I get my Facebook stream back. I’m looking forward to the name-calling, insulting remarks, and rude behavior in the name of politics to come to an end. I’m wondering where civility went. I’m wondering where common courtesy went. I’m wondering why long-time friends feel so good about calling me stupid and attacking me over the things that I believe. I’m wondering why hate speech is acceptable among many of my otherwise kind and considerate friends, simply because everyone doesn’t agree with them — I’ve been married more than 30 years and my wife and I often disagree, but we don’t talk to each other like that. To my friends, I tried to keep my opinions and emotions in check as we discussed the candidates and their positions. I know I wasn’t always able to do so. Please forgive me for being a bore. Our friendship means more to me than who is in the White House or whom we send to the Governor’s Mansion.
- Apologize to your employees: If you were one of the small business owners who threatened employee jobs if one or the other candidate for President was elected, you should be ashamed. I’ve survived a number of economic recessions and watched business owners struggle to stay afloat and keep their employees, but I’ve never heard one of them presume to tell their employees how to vote or suggest that if they didn’t vote a certain way they could lose their jobs. If you are one of them, I hope when we exit this Great Recession, your employees head off to greener pastures — which they will. Did you forget that in the United States of America our vote is private? Our vote is our own.
- Roll up your sleeves and get back to work: As much as we’d like to blame the politicians in Washington for our woes, small business people are pretty darn resilient. It’s time to go back to work. It doesn’t really matter who is in the White House, products and services that resonate with the market will come out on top. The aforementioned recessions I’ve lived through have taught me that hard work and determination win — whining about what happens in Washington doesn’t.
- Encourage your elected officials to represent the interests of the country: I believe what’s good for the country will be good for small business. Special-interest money drives the debate these days. Tell your congressperson or senator to ignore bias media outlets, walk across the aisle, shake hands and do the work of the government. In recent memory, I can’t think of a time when I’ve seen anything but gridlock. Nothing happens with such a partisan vote unless you hold a majority in the House or Senate. This is no way to run a government. This is insanity. If this continues, it doesn’t matter who is president, we’ll be having the same discussion next time about broken promises and lies. Isn’t it time that we started worrying more about good ideas and less about where they came from? The late President Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets credit for it.”
- Vote for someone different next time: I’ve never voted a straight ticket. In fact, I usually vote against the incumbent. It’s too easy to go back there and forget what you went back there for. Two or three terms should be enough for anyone — that’s 18 years in the Senate and six years in the House. Washington is never going to pass term limits in our lifetime — it’s up to us. I will be voting for at least one candidate this year that is personally distasteful because the other one has been back in Washington for too long. It’s time we all did the same.
- Carry on: Over the course of my career, I’ve seen elected officials come and go. Business moves forward. It struggles, but it moves forward. Encourage and inspire your employees to perform at their best and carry on. Don’t whine about whether or not your candidate for president won the election. As of today, the day before the election, it’s too close to call. Half the country will be disappointed; the other half will be gloating. Neither behavior is going to help us create the products and services that will keep our businesses alive and thriving. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get back to work.
Whoever is our next president, I hope he is successful. I will encourage my representatives to worry less about where the ideas come from — to cross the aisle, shake hands and get to work. Will you?