Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship for Over 30 Years

It is with pleasure that I welcome another guest editorialist to this page. Dr. Fred McKinney has been a great friend to the minority business community over the years and is the managing director, MBE Programs, Tuck School of Business . Cheers!

And I am reminded of all those folks who had to count bubbles in a bar of soap, beaten trying to register voters in Mississippi, risked everything so that they could pull that lever. So if I hear anybody saying their vote does not matter, that it doesn’t matter who we elect—read up on your history. It matters. We’ve got to get people to vote.— President Barack Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner, September 18, 2016 (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/18/remarks-president-congressional-black-caucus-foundation-46th-annual)

I understand that the 1800 presidential election between Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, Charles Pinckney, and incumbent John Adams was a particularly vicious campaign. Each candidate used the media to portray their competitors as morally and professionally unfit for the office. You can trace the final and fatal duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr to this election.

While so far there have been no duels involving fire arms, this election season has been like no other in recent memory. The only consensus that seems to characterize this election is that there are hard core supporters for each of the two major protagonists, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump ; and there is a significant portion of the electorate that is not firmly in either camp. Ironically it will be those in neither camp and those that don’t vote that will determine who succeeds President Barack Obama.

Minority businesses have a great deal at stake in this election, arguably more than any recent election, including the historic election of Barack Obama. The direction of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance. The next president will nominate and Congress will confirm a new Justice of the Supreme Court. And with that, the Court will either move to correct the errors of past Courts or put the law on the side of minority business development. We tend think that the law is settled on things like Croson, Adarand, and other cases that eliminated or shackled public sector supplier diversity. The law is rarely settled. It is conceivable that a Court with a “liberal” majority will revisit some of these cases or the cases that are sure to present themselves on the topic of minority business development.

But it is more than the direction of the Supreme Court that will be determined in this election. The next president will be in a position to expand federal support for minority and women-owned businesses. The next president will influence whether more federal funds go into community development or prison development. The next president will set the tone on how corporate America interacts with the diverse business community. The next president will influence whether we have a tax system that is fair, efficient, and supportive of small business development. The next president will determine whether we become a forward looking nation or a backward looking one. The next president will determine whether this country continues to move towards greater equality.

Minority businesses must lead our larger community to resist complacency and cynicism. There are 15 million minority and women business owners. We must have our voices heard. Our voice is the vote. Minority business owners must vote, and more importantly, they must encourage their employees, suppliers, and customers to vote. It gets tricky for employers to engage in active promotion of one candidate over the other, but there is nothing that prevents owners from showing their patriotism by putting up signs inside and outside their offices that simply say VOTE!

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MBE's Business Opportunities resource covers business-related financing, consulting, and programs available for the Supplier Diversity community and M/WBEs. Updated monthly.

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MBE's M/WBE Resource Directory is a comprehensive list of resource organizations (including links) that support the Supplier Diversity community and M/WBEs.

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