Politics affect every aspect of our lives, from what we learn in school to how sales taxes are calculated. Most people have a general knowledge of politics as it pertains to the president, federal, state, and local governments. However, a new presidential election approaches in November. It would be nearly impossible to list all the ways politics can influence creative entrepreneurs. However, knowing the laws and requirements allows one to make informed decisions. Creatives and entrepreneurs need to understand how politics and political change can affect them and their livelihoods.
Politics and social commentary
The most common way that politics can affect creatives and entrepreneurs is through political commentary. Creatives have frequently used their talents to express opinions on politics. In 1964, Norman Rockwell released his painting The Problem We All Live With reflecting the story of Ruby Bridges and the racism she faced while trying to attend the newly integrated William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Rap group N.W.A. released their song, “Fuck tha Police” in 1988, calling out racial profiling and police brutality against African Americans.
In 2003, the country music band, Dixie Chicks, wrote their biggest song, “Not Ready to Make Nice” in response to criticism they received for speaking against President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. While on stage, lead singer Natalie Maines made the controversial statement, “…we don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” The band received a large amount of disapproval including death threats and boycotts. The following lyrics detail the death threats the band received while on tour following Maines’ statement:
“And how in the world
Can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Saying that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over.”
Many people are familiar with creatives making political statements through their art, but entrepreneurs can make political statements as well. Oftentimes business owners make decisions about their businesses depending on their political views and those decisions suggest support for either a specific politician or a political perspective. As an entrepreneur, it is important to note that aligning your business with a certain political stance has its pros and cons and should not be done so without the thought of possible consequences.
In addition to affecting social commentary, politics also influences creatives and entrepreneurs financially. When changes in political perspectives shift, so does the economy. Stocks rise and fall with the introduction of new policies and regulations on businesses and consumers. Because of this, the ways in which entrepreneurs and creatives conduct business is largely dependent upon politics. For entrepreneurs, knowing the current legislation and requirements to start a business is key to a proper foundation. “The creation, change, or removal of legislation could have a huge impact on your business. Economic development opportunities could give you grants or incentives for starting a business, or niche-specific developments could have a drastic impact on how you choose to move your business forward.” (StartupGrind.com)
The Covid-19 pandemic provides another example of the relationship between politics and the financial stability of creatives and entrepreneurs. Unemployment rates due to Covid-19 have soared across the country. Normally, self-employed, freelance, or gig workers are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. However, on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed, including a section dedicated to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. “The PUA program will provide unemployment benefits to those not ordinarily eligible for them. This includes individuals who are self-employed, gig workers, 1099 independent contractors, employees of churches, employees of non-profits, or those with limited work history who do not qualify for state unemployment benefits.” (Georgia Department of Labor) Many creatives are independent contractors or freelancers, some of which work gig jobs on the side, and the majority of entrepreneurs are in fact, self-employed.
Politics shape the way an entire generation thinks about themselves and those that come before and after them, effecting what they consume and what services they feel they need. Businesses aim to provide a solution to a problem and these problems come in many forms. When political party leanings shift, it is usually due to changing demographics. If people feel as though their last elected official didn’t meet their expectations, they might want to elect a new candidate. Dissatisfaction with a new administration does affect spending habits. Some people may purchase firearms, others may decide to hold off on buying a new home. These decisions influence what services entrepreneurs and creatives will provide to their consumers.