Normally, the holidays bring some family discussion on politics. This weekend, those discussions were limited. The following is the extent of the political discussion I had this weekend:
Family member: Have you heard about what Howard Schulz [Starbucks founder] is doing about politics?
Me: A little. I don’t know much, but to me, it sounds like Schulz is saying “we just need to all get along and do the stuff I (or my side) want to do.”
Family member: No, that’s not it at all. He, and others like Ariana Huffington, want to end the gridlock in government so that government can get some things done.
Me: Do you realize you said exactly what I said, just differently? When people say they want to end the gridlock, they mean they want to do the stuff that they think should be done, but not what the other side wants to do.
Family member: I don’t think that’s true. I want to do the stuff that my side wants to do and the stuff that your side wants to do.
Me: Really? Name one thing that my side wants to do that you support?
Family member: Well, I can’t right now.
Me: Then what you said is just a platitude. It sounds good, but means nothing. It’s tough to do what one side wants to do — which ends up growing government — and what the other side wants to do — shrinking government — at the same time. That’s why there’s gridlock.
Me again (summoning Walter Williams): Here’s the thing. We need to get more of our decisions out of politics. You and I don’t have to fight over which jeans we should wear because we each get to make the choice that’s right for us. I don’t get to force you to wear the jeans that I like. But, if ‘we’ said as society that we all have to wear jeans, we’d fight over which jeans to wear and some group of people would end up forcing their preferences on everyone else.
I think Schulz has a brilliant business mind. I encouraged my family member to read his book Pour Your Heart Into It. It holds a lot of good lessons for starting, growing and running a business.
I also encouraged my family member to look into what other business leaders have to say about politics, like John Mackey, CEO of Whole Food Markets.