With a history that dates back almost 250 years, it’s hard to say that something is “unprecedented” in America. However, this feeling of political turmoil and anger is as close to unprecedented as we can get, in my opinion. The political divide between Republicans and Democrats has always existed, but I can’t recall in my lifetime it ever being this harsh. Friendships and family relationships have ended based on who they voted for in the last presidential election.
Even the safe havens of conversation topics — sports and the weather — have been dragged into the mess.
How does this situation affect your business? Theoretically, it shouldn’t. Meat is, after all, apolitical. In fact, the deliciousness of a good steak is probably one of the few things that people can agree on regardless of political affiliation. The reality, however, is that very few things are able to stay out of the fray for very long.
I recently heard about a small meat market that allowed a political sign to be placed on its property. You see these signs all over the place, particularly when it gets close to an election day. Vote for this candidate, vote No on this proposition. No big deal, right?
Well, the sign happened to take a stance on a very hot-button issue. Once the sign went up, opponents of the sign went to the company’s Facebook page and vowed to boycott the business. It got so heated that the processor posted a message on Facebook apologizing for allowing the sign to be put on its property, and that the sign was removed. That solved the problem, right?
Well, people who supported the sign’s message then went on Facebook and announced that THEY would be boycotting the business, on account of the company caving into public pressure. Because of one lousy sign, people on both sides of the political spectrum got fired up so much that they swore to stop shopping there. Now, this is social media and not the real world. People threaten to take their business elsewhere all the time, but it’s hard to tell if they ever follow through on the threat — or if they ever patronized the business in the first place. The one certainty is that someone at that processor was occupied by social media madness for several days and was tethered to a computer, responding to Angry Internet People, when they could have been doing something better with their time.
Whether the threats are real or overblown, do you want to be the subject of a boycott? Do you want to be stuck responding to messages from strangers, denigrating your business? The obvious solution is to avoid the whole political mess entirely and keep your business a politics-free zone. We get bombarded with 24-7 news, so it’s nice to walk into a place where news channels aren’t playing on the TV, and the most controversial discussion you hear is whether ketchup belongs on a hot dog.
You, of course, are more than welcome to advertise your personal political beliefs by way of political signs around your business or stickers on your company vehicles. You may get compliments, and you may get complaints. But it will get noticed.