You probably don't care about the election taking place next week. Well, you do care, but not that much. Admit it.
You’re not alone. In less than week, voters across the country will hit the polls. In Washington, all 435 seats of the House of Representatives and 36 seats in the Senate are up for grabs.
The Republicans have a very good shot at taking over Congress, which would seriously threaten the president’s agenda and would likely prolong gridlock in Washington through the next election cycle. Or the Democrats may keep a slim margin in the Senate and their party’s hopes alive for the changes they want.
Not only that, important issues will be coming up during the next two years: immigration reform, tax reform, deficit reduction, changes to our healthcare law and the minimum wage. These are all issues that affect you and me as small-business owners.
Meh. We don’t care. Why is that?
1. There won't be enough of a majority to get anything substantial done.
Even if the Republicans do take control of Congress their majority will be slim. So slim that the president can easily veto any significant piece of legislation they send to his desk (i.e. repeal of the Affordable Care Act) and there’s nowhere near the two-thirds majority vote in both Houses needed to override.
Major reforms to our tax code are also out of the question and any serious action taken on immigration reform or deficit reduction will be watered down with enough special interests that their effects will be nothing more than public relations posturing ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
Business owners know this. Meh.
2. Our local elections are more important.
If we’re going to drag ourselves to the polls this year it probably won’t be because of what’s going on in Washington. Local issues will motivate us. Although it’s questionable whether there will be an increase nationally, minimum-wage laws are up for a vote in cities and towns throughout the country and increases will have an impact on our bottom lines.
Legalization and de-criminalization of marijuana is a hot topic, which could provide profit-making opportunities for some, and moral dilemmas for other business owners. Oh, and speaking of moral dilemmas, more than a handful of local municipalities are strengthening their laws against discrimination of LGBT communities and some business owners have very strong opinions both for and against that too.
Depending on where you live, there’s legislation pending that will levy more regulations and taxes on fracking, which in a time of rapidly falling oil prices could significantly hurt local energy companies that provide jobs and work for small businesses. Some states (such as my state of Pennsylvania) are grappling with their own pension reform and budget issues. These are just a few of the local issues that concern business owners more than what’s going in D.C. this midterm season.
3. But most importantly, and you hate to admit it: things aren’t so bad right now.
The economy isn’t going gangbusters, but it’s growing between 2 to 3 percent. This is a lot better than some of our European friends nowadays. Inflation and interest remain low and the stock market, even with its recent volatility, is still at historical highs.
Unemployment is decreasing, consumer spending is rising and most economists are predicting a strong holiday season. These are all reasons why just about every survey of small-business owners taken during the past 30 days have expressed optimism, confidence and plans for future growth and hiring.
Is this because of Washington? Actually, it’s likely despite of Washington. It's evidence that even in an atmosphere of higher taxes and more regulations, American businesses are resilient and entrepreneurism is alive and well.
So yeah, I get it. The midterms are meh. You’re not alone. And you have good reason to feel this way.
But before you drive by that polling station next week just think of this: more than 2.5 billion people in this world do not have the opportunity to vote for their leaders. If that’s not a concern, the U.S. has the lowest voter turnout of any of the most wealthy democracies in the world.
Feeling bad about this? You should. And you should feel even worse when you learn that in countries such as Afghanistan, voters risk their lives to have their say. So you don’t need a hugely compelling reason to vote this year. But please, vote. If not for the interests of your business, at least in the interests of democracy.