Business or Politics. Pick One.
I frequently listen to music as I work. For almost three years my music source of choice was the online service Pandora. Until two weeks ago. I’m done with Pandora; I’ve replaced it with Songza, which so far seems great.
Pandora operates on the “fremium” model, which means you can get their basic service, with commercials, at no charge, or you can pay a small fee for premium service and skip all the ads. For all this time I haven’t minded the ads: it’s the same model of commercial radio I grew up with, but fewer ads and more choice. It’s fair. Who could complain?
Until the political attack ads started. Mind you, from both parties. Democrats bashing Republicans, Republicans bashing Democrats, all paid for by superpac money, which if you’ve noticed means their level of vitriol is typically through the roof, their burden of proof nonexistent.
Let’s pause here. I am a dedicated member of one of the two main American political parties. While I find both or this year’s remaining candidates yawn-inspiringly moderate, I would very much prefer one in particular to win this November – more for who he can nominate to the Supreme Court than any policy differences we’ll see between them.
However, I don’t think this blog, or my other social media outlets, are the right places for me to preach my politics. You see, I know that a lot of my closest online friends and followers disagree with me politically. That’s okay – even good! If we don’t engage each other in respectful discussion, this republic that I love so much is going to divide itself ever further. If we live in an echo chamber of our own opinions we won’t grow, and personally, I can’t imagine anything duller than that – or worse for the health of our democracy.
I count myself a business expert, not a political expert. My readers look to me for guidance in the first, not the second. If the values I espouse in business bleed over into their political lives, all the better. But I’ll let that happen or not as each person decides.
So back to Pandora. I found both candidates’ ads offensive, though of course one much more so. But it wasn’t until my seven year old remarked on an ad that I really got my dander up. With big eyes and a terribly worried face, she stood at my office door and said,
“Daddy, is [one candidate] really trying to destroy America?”
Really, Pandora? Really, local doctors, whose waiting room TVs are often turned to a very partisan “news” station? Really, bombastic business colleague?
Folks, our nation is currently divided fifty-fifty Democratic-Republican. That means that for every potential customer who sees eye-to-eye with you in the upcoming election, another will be repulsed by your brand of politics. Even in solid “red” or solid “blue” areas, there is usually a quiet minority of 1/3 who disagrees.
Business leaders, can you afford to alienate half or even a third of your potential customers? I don’t know about you, but if I lost 50% of my business, my family would suffer. Are you that rich, that you don’t think it matters who you piss off?
I look to my favorite actors and musicians to entertain me. I look to my business icons to tell me how to run a company better. I look to my doctor to fix what ails me, or keep me working right in the first place. And I I look to my favorite brands to sell me the stuff I need or want.
What I don’t look to any of these specialists to do is step outside their area of expertise and try to sell me their political ideas – especially when those ideas take the form of hate. Life is too short to pollute it with destructive political acrimony.
I know a lot of you disagree with what I’ve just written. Let me have it in the comments. I’m no oracle – Much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been wrong once or twice, and I’m sure it’ll happen again.
Graphic by Josue G