With just a few days left until the election, rhetoric is heating up. As a small business owner, I think often of my Grandmother's admonition that religion, politics and how much you earn are never good topics for polite company. The mechanisms of politics often makes it seem like we should all be wearing our political hearts on our sleeves for all to see. To do otherwise, pundits announce, is to be unpatiotic.
Hogwash! My politics, to the best of my knowledge, contribute nothing to my ability to do the work you need done. The only influence your knowledge of my politics might have on you is that you may not give me the job if my politics disagree with yours. Is that fair? No. Does it happen? Most certainly. I've seen wonderful business relationships tossed out the window when politics got in the way.
Perhaps you have decided you will only work with folks who support your candidate. That is your right. In a free market capitalistic society, you have the right to do business with whom you choose. But I have no obligation to help you make a choice based only on political considerations by telling you whether I support Obama, McCain or someone else. And if you ask me who I'm voting for, I will most likely ignore the question or indicate that's between me and the voting booth.
Sometimes we learn of a person's political leanings because they work on someone's campaign. I applaud those of you who do this as our political system is dependent upon such voluntary assistance to those running for office. But that still does not give you the right to impose your beliefs on me for purposes of work. I'd feel the same way if you were to ask if I am a born again Christian at our first project meeting. That information is personal and I feel it should remain that way.
Many of you will disagree with me on this one. I'm prepared for that. But I also know how difficult politics becomes as we approach a major election. In these times of financial turmoil, we can ill afford to lose clients. It is our responsibility to give careful thought to what we say to clients and how it may ultimately damage or enhance our working relationships.
I encourage ALL of you to vote. And I hope you will all help others to vote if they need a ride to the poll or a bit of urging to vote in that first big election since becoming of age. But please do not make your personal politics a basis for offering that help.
Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, or a member of the many other small parties who have caring members on their rolls, I think we may agree the one thing we can ALL do to contribute to this election is to make sure as many eligible voters as possible make it to the polls to vote. So let's keep politics out of the business meetings and offer to carpool to the polls on election day! You may keep a client happy and help the environment at the same time!