Operators should vote, volunteer and stay involved in the political process

As we count down to the Nov. 6 election, the angry rhetoric is ramping up.

Even my most politically savvy industry friends are looking forward to the end of this presidential race.

While many of us don’t live in so-called swing states, those who do have been inundated with negative volleys in the form of paid political advertisements. These 24/7 political ads can raise one’s blood pressure even if you are listening from the next room.

But there are plenty of other reminders that Election Day is coming, even in the nonswing states. Lawns are full of pro-Romney and pro-Obama signs, sometimes right next door to each other. Pleas for donations can be nonstop, especially if you have shelled out in prior elections.

Many people have astutely said that religion and politics are good topics to avoid in polite company. I couldn’t agree more, although I don’t always follow that advice myself. I have been known to venture into political discussions, especially in interviews, since so many restaurateurs are active in national, state and local politics.

Clearly, who controls the White House, Congress and the state offices matters to restaurant operators and the industry at large.

While campaigning in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made no secret of the fact that he was anti-smoking and likewise concerned about the spike in obesity rates.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to industry observers when Bloomberg drastically raised the cost of cigarettes with new taxes and ushered in legislation that banned the sale of sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces.

Restaurant operators are seeing red about the latest legislation, which is set to go into effect in less than six months.

For the most part when candidates speak, the electorate should listen because these elections have huge consequences for us all.

Campaign rhetoric is important because it is often a blueprint for what a candidate intends to pursue once in office. So attention must be paid.

As small-business owners, many restaurateurs have a strong motivating factor to pay attention to politics: the bottom line and success of their operations.

Obviously the industry comprises Republicans and Democrats with most leaning toward the GOP, which is considered more business-friendly.

Regardless of your political affiliation, it is crucial that you vote and better still get involved in a campaign. You meet like-minded folks who are trying to make a difference, and you play a part in trying to influence the outcome of the election. And as an added bonus, you might pick up some new customers in the bargain.

For those of us who don’t live in swing states, it can be somewhat frustrating to think that our vote doesn’t count as much as the votes in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado or North Carolina. But think again, because every vote does count in myriad ways, despite all the frustrations that come from the Electoral College.

Lots of restaurants are having some fun with the election, naming cocktails and sandwiches after Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, often to raise awareness and get out the vote.

Helping to get out the vote is laudable, especially when our country is experiencing such tough economic times.

As Americans, we are united in many ways. We all hope for better times ahead and look to our elected officials to get us there sooner rather than later.

So make sure you do your part: Vote, encourage others to do the same, and if you have the time, volunteer for the candidate of your choice.

Feature, Philanthropy