Business and politics: A deadly combination?

Dusty Hartl, Opinions Editor

The United States has been debating whether corporations are constitutionally “people” for a few years now. Citizens United was a Supreme Court ruling that declared that corporations can be considered

This decision has opened up new doors for corporations and businesses. In Milwaukee, Penzey’s Spices emailed a newsletter to their customers, condemning the election of Donald Trump and all those who supported him.

Penzey’s owner, Bill Penzey, said, “You just voted for an openly racist candidate for the presidency of the United States of America…You really are a good bunch, but you just committed the biggest act of racism in American history since Wallace stood in the schoolhouse doorway 53 years ago, make this right. Take ownership for what you have done and begin the pathway forward.”

This newsletter has prompted many to take action and many call for a boycott which was not successful because Milwaukee tends to lean Democratic. The question remains though, should a business use its resources to promote one political agenda over another?

It is not a surprise that they can, but should they, from a business standpoint? A lot of people shop at stores and relax from their everyday lives, but when a business engages in political discussions it takes away from that peaceful experience.

When customers receive something such as a newsletter, they do not expect to be bombarded by political propaganda and an owner who condemns their customers for their beliefs.

If this was a reversed and someone was condemning Clinton, would that be respected or promoted?

The idea that just because someone chose to vote for Trump, that they instantly “committed an act of racism,” is horribly misconstrued. Someone should not feel unwanted by a business or feel as though their beliefs are wrong.

Businesses should appeal to their customers, allowing them to feel welcomed and comfortable while shopping in a store. People can always chose to shop elsewhere, but why run that risk?

Not only can these businesses put their customers in a difficult position, but they can put their employees as well. If a business gets involved with political discussions, or thoughts, those can be transferred to the representation of their employees.

West Sound Workforce said “35% of employees are uncomfortable discussing political views at work.” Now, imagine the person discussing political views is the boss or CEO.

Political opinions have no place in the workplace or in a business. We need to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and safe working and shopping.

The best way we can all ensure that this happens is to respect, acknowledge and understand each other and their opinions and beliefs. This can be by not discussing them or by simply ignoring someone when they start to ramble on about something they believe.

Employers need to ensure that employees are represented in the business. There are going to be individuals who have differing beliefs and those need to be respected.

Instead of focusing on all the bad things that have happened in the recent years, why not take a positive approach and extend a hand in friendship and tolerance instead of one laced with cyanide? When given the option, choose the higher road.