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What Are the Business Repercussions of the Coming Election?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC) has asked its global membership to reveal how the approaching Presidential election will affect business in this economy. "It appears to be one of the great unknowns," notes Alan Weiss, Ph.D. and CEO of SAC, "which may cause voters to actually make up their minds on the day of the election and even in the polling booths."

Here are three samples of the feedback received:

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist and leadership coach and president of Working Resources, a strategic talent management firm in San Francisco, California. He specializes in executive coaching for developing emotionally intelligent leaders and lawyers. He offers a few insights:

Barack Obama links our current economic crisis to tax regulation during the Bush administration and John McCain's role in Congress, while McCain has a populist stance calling for regulation while criticizing Wall Street greed. McCain has repeatedly asserted that the economic "fundamentals" of the US economy are "sound." After much criticism, he is now defining "fundamentals" as the "American worker," which is a bit of a stretch.

Republican McCain blamed self-interest, greed, irresponsibility and corruption at the top of the U.S. financial system as the source of the US financial problems. Democrat Obama believes GOP policies that favor the wealthy are the source of our economic woes.

The US Election now strongly focusing on the deteriorating economy will tell us which candidate has the best plan to right what now appears to be a ship taking on a lot of water. Carly Fiorina, economic advisor to John McCain doesn't believe either presidential candidate can run a large corporation. She wasn't so successful herself as CEO of HP.

Ed Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, Coach to the Legal Profession®, principal of the law practice management consultancy,, offers a different perspective: "Both political parties have entered new ground, each in their own way. In the Democratic Party, the two final contenders both represented history-making adventures. Now, both political parties have assured us that new history will be made for our country, irrespective of which party is elected to the White House. If one believes both the platform statements and the rhetoric to date, the country will also be given an economic choice.

"However, as part of the genius of our centrist nature, we are likely to see slow and modest change only. Where we should look to significant change, change that may last for decades, however, is in the appointments the new President will make to our federal judiciary. These appointments will impact not only the social fabric of our country that is most visible, but also to our business climate most dramatically."

Noted consultant and author John Carroll sees this from the small business perspective of many clients when he says that the upcoming election will tell us precious little about the business climate. "Many business owners and managers see such a huge disconnect between their world and the messages of both major political parties that they've essentially thrown up their hands in frustration."

Carroll, president of Unlimited Performance, Inc. in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, adds, "People, including business owners, will certainly vote with their pocketbooks. For the most part, they'll also look cynically at the winner in the White House race and find little if any of a mandate encouraging them to grow their organizations and increase productivity. They see and hear what they perceive to be mostly lip service in support of real-world business enhancement activity.

"These business owners and operators understand that, beyond their own vote in the Presidential election, they have little control," says Carroll. "They'll go to the polls on November 4 and head to work to do what they can do. They seem to hold little hope of the government being wise enough or having the courage to help them in any significant way."

Weiss concludes, "My own observation is that the election itself, replacing uncertainty with a clear slate and ideology, will serve to bolster confidence no less that the $700 billion rescue proposal that no one is sure will work. This is a crisis of confidence requiring direction more than anything else."

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