Happy Election Day! I hope all of you here in the U.S. have voted or will do so before the day’s end. While I’ve often stated we don’t do politics in this space, I’m going to make an exception today and talk about something that’s been going in the political world that I find repugnant. I can hear you all wondering which of the hundred of things from which one can choose I’ll mention!
I’m doing so because today a business point makes the political one (usually it’s the other way around here) and they’re both instructive Think about your business and businesses in general for a minute. I know of very few that discourage customers. Some country clubs and co-op apartment complexes won’t do business with consumers wanting in. Some professionals in the service sector – doctors, some consultants – are picky about accepting new clients. That’s about it. I’m not talking about an overbooked hotel or a full restaurant – they’ll take your money but they don’t have room. Even when business is going well we all need new customers to keep it going. We’re not in the business of doing anything that suppresses consumers from becoming customers. Turning people away in good times discourages them from ever coming back, particularly when we need them the most.
Government’s consumers are voters. Part of what each citizen receives for their tax dollars along with roads, schools, and protection is the right to vote. The ability to influence everything else that the government does. The more citizens that participate in the voting process the more likely it is that those who are elected will reflect the majority will of the people, which is a good thing in my mind.
That’s why the efforts by some to suppress the vote is not only repugnant, but short-sighted. Government needs customers – voters – just as any business does. Curtailing voting hours, sending out misinformation about polling places, and positioning poll-watchers to intimidate voters discourage customers. No business can succeed doing that and maybe that’s why government is failing in many ways.
There is another truth here. No business can succeed by cheating. Neither can a political party. Voter suppression, which seems to be perpetrated by one party almost exclusively – is cheating. Suppressing the votes in areas that historically have not voted to support your candidates is wrong, and writing it off as “politics” is worse. When a business sells you something using bait and switch tactics they’re cheating and we all get angry when that deception is discovered. Maybe this kind of behavior is part of why many people feel disconnected and angry at government?
There are many ways to give feedback to a business these days and many people do so via online reviews and social media. If you’re being smart about your business you’re listening carefully to it. You’re certainly not telling customers to go away. Today is the day when all of us as customers of government have the chance to offer feedback. I’m intending to offer mine. I hope you all do the same. Let’s hope they’re listening. What do you think?