Since I started at BizTimes Milwaukee in June 2011, I have met and heard from a number of business leaders about politics.
I have seen speeches by mayors and governors, presidents and CEOs, listened to some disparage the other side and some publicly call for fewer regulations or more government funding. Some leaders have even threatened to move their companies out of state if things weren’t going their way politically.
I have moderated reader comments on our website and social media posts that have gone beyond those public jabs and fallen right into the gutter – attacking people’s very character and being, just for holding different beliefs.
One idea has stuck with me through it all. One speech sticks in my memory as the shining beacon to which we ought to aspire.
It’s Sheldon Lubar’s May 2012 speech at BizTimes Media’s annual BizExpo, when he was awarded the Bravo! Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lubar got onstage in front of hundreds of Milwaukee business executives, some of whom surely did not agree with his political views, and asked everyone to return to an environment of respect and civility in their discourse.
This was in the thick of the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, when tensions were high and insults were spewed with reckless abandon across the state. Wisconsin had become bitter and polarized, and the leaders of the business community needed to find a way to return to common ground to make any progress, Lubar said.
“We must respect each other and understand that none of us is always right or always wrong,” he said.
“We need people like you and me to stand up and declare we have had enough. We must ask for civility whatever is the outcome of the recall election. No – we must insist on civility and insist that these two leaders of their respective parties collaborate and recognize the problems facing Wisconsin and compromise to achieve effective solutions. We cannot heal or move ahead unless these two leaders commit to returning civility to Wisconsin. I hope you agree with me.”
You can watch Sheldon’s speech here: http://bit.ly/2dzBvbR.
He earned a standing ovation for his call for civility in Wisconsin.
Clearly, Sheldon struck a chord. No one wants a divisive political and business climate. Cooperation can help us make progress.
As another Election Day draws near, think of Sheldon’s words and remember that your neighbor is not so different from yourself. Love and respect each other, and once this election is through, no matter the outcome, let’s move forward together.