(This post originally appeared on The Hill)
Even though many voters have already cast their ballots, the vast majority of the electorate will be making their choice for president in less than a week. For some, the choice is easy. But for many small business owners I know, the decision is more complex and essentially comes down to this question. Do we choose policy or personality?
On business policies, President Trump has a clear advantage over former Vice President Biden. Biden is proposing higher individual, corporate and capital gains taxes. He supports a national minimum wage of $15 per hour. He advocates mandated paid time off and higher overtime wages. He wants to fully restore the Affordable Care Act and reverse the president’s executive orders on things such as Association Health Plans and “skinny” health plans that give employers and their employees more potentially lower cost health care options.
Biden also stands behind California’s recent legislation that forces some companies to reclassify many of their independent contractors as employees. He wants to change the rules for contributing to 401(K) retirement plans, which could limit business owners’ contributions. He wants more regulations protecting workers and hopes to disallow non-compete clauses in employee contracts. He speaks out against big business and the wealthy, regardless of the contributions and “trickle down” effect these organizations have on the many small businesses and communities that rely on them.
Trump wants none of the above. He proposes no new taxes. He supports further de-regulation. He is pro-employer. His policies are, without question, more small business friendly than his opponent’s. So, on the issue of business policy, Trump wins. Under his administration, businesses would potentially be in a better position to prosper than under Biden. And this would benefit not only the owners but their employees, customers, suppliers, partners and communities who rely on them.
But unfortunately, for the small business owner, a president is not only about his policies. Personality – and all the ingredients that make a competent leader of this country – equally factors into the decision. In that regard, the president is woefully deficient. Because, let’s face it, President Trump does not have a very good personality, at least as a leader. He misses opportunities to say the right things and bring the country together. He’s divisive. He’s crass. He’s boorish. He’s arguably made racist, misogynist and xenophobic comments. His base loves him. But being a leader means leading everyone, not just those who show up to his rallies.
Over the past four years, we’ve all watched Trump make inappropriate comments about other world leaders, embarrass his followers with unnecessary tweeting, and insult, dismay and alienate good and patriotic people who would have served this country with competence. All of this is because of his chaotic, erratic and unprofessional antics. His leadership and management performance handling this impossible-to-handle pandemic has been vastly overshadowed by his tantrums and selfish decorum in front of the media and obsessive compulsion to attack his enemies rather than comfort and give direction to his people.
Do people like this run successful organizations? Sure, some do. Are there racists, misogynists and xenophobes who are also CEOs? Yup. But even the worst of them are still adept at hiding these personality faults to the general public. They exhibit diplomacy, decorum and manners when required. They know when to say the right things. They know when to comfort the public and when to keep their private battles private.
Unfortunately, the president isn’t one of these people. And, unfortunately, he’s the president. Do we care? Sure, we do.
Biden has many faults of his own, including some of the things I listed above. But in public he plays the part. And this is important. Few people call him a jerk. And few doubt his ability to say the right things (gaffes aside) and be, at least publicly, presidential. With Joe Biden as president, small business owners will have a leader that has the better personality, temperament and leadership skills to be president. With Donald Trump as president we’ll have a leader with policies that will make us more money.
That’s what it all comes down to. Policy versus personality. What’s more important? Whom will you pick? And whom will the remaining 30 million small business owners in this country choose? For some, it’s an easy decision. For others (like me) it’s not.