We live in a world that makes it incredibly easy to share our views and opinions. Our phones are an instant connection to news outlets and social media sites, and the two can create a very polarizing look at the political horizon. With the Presidential election looming, it can be hard to bite your tongue. But if you don't, there are some financial risks that go along with freely spouting your political beliefs.
They Could Cost You a Job or Promotion
By far, the biggest impact political views can have on your life is work-related. Like it or not, your employer, boss, and clients can discover a lot about you through social media sites. Aside from making sure you don't appear as if you're doing anything inappropriate or illegal, you also have to be very careful about the political views you post or comment on.
One day, you could be raging against a new bill introduced by a Republican, or ranting about an act signed into law by a Democrat. The next thing you know, that big promotion you were gunning for at work has gone to someone else. Your political views should not have any bearing on the work you're doing (unless you are actually in politics), but people are people. It's quite possible your views will rub someone important the wrong way, and they will respond in the most effective way they know; they'll hit you in the wallet, or the career.
Perhaps the boss's wife works for a political party for which you have expressed extreme disdain. Maybe your CEO voted for Romney, and you have an Obama sticker on your car. It could even be as simple as liking a comment or story on Facebook that is in direct opposition to your employer's views. Yes, it's a free country, and yes, freedom of speech is one of the guiding principles of our nation. But do not underestimate the pettiness of regular people. If you are going to have opinions on political subjects, do not blast them far and wide. Talk them over with your friends and family. Keep your views away from anywhere that a boss or coworker can see, and worse, react to. You could even get fired or laid off, under the guise of a different reason.
They Could Cost You Customers
If you're a small business owner, you have to be very careful about the political views you take a stance on. And openly shouting about the things you believe in could cost you customers, income, and even your business. The news outlets have reported time and again about small business owners who have abjectly refused to back down from an opinion deeply-held by the political party they support.
Simply by having a sticker for either the Republican or Democratic party in the store window could be enough to scare away people with opposing political beliefs. You've just lost a sale; one that could very easily have happened if it were not for the announcement.
Online, a prospective client could do a quick search on your social activities, see a lot of blustering about certain political views, and choose someone else. Even if you're a freelancer doing writing, hair styling, or gardening, the kind of views you openly express can bite you, and that hits you in the wallet. Not only that, but word of mouth can spread, and suddenly you have not lost one customer, but five or six. Was the loss of income worth it to tell everyone something that was on your mind? Did it have to be said?"
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They Could Get You Sued
If you're a small business owner, or occasionally employ someone (even if it's just a guy who mows your lawn or cleans your windows), you have to be very careful about how you hire and fire people. Specific laws have been put in place to prevent employers from discriminating based on political beliefs. Not all states have these laws, but many do. And violating these laws could result in legal action.
For example, a boss could notice a lot of Republican paraphernalia adorning an employee's car. Maybe there are party line stickers on there, including pro-gun control and pro-life statements. This could enrage him or her, especially if these views are the polar opposite of what he or she believes. So, the boss has a word with HR, and the employee is terminated. That is a clear case for a lawsuit, and could cost the business owner not only a great deal of money, but perhaps the whole business. And what's more, the news could spread, meaning clients and partners decide to take their business elsewhere.
It's fine to have political views, but there are limits to the way you can act upon them. Even if you really, really hate the political opinions of an employee, you cannot terminate them just for that reason.
They Could Lead to a Costly Break-Up
This story comes from someone I used to work with. Christopher (not his real name) was known for being outspoken, especially on politics. He had very strong views, and was pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, and hated big government. He was also engaged to be married, to someone who was of a similar mindset, but nowhere near as passionate or outspoken.
During the 2012 election cycle, his posts and rants on Facebook and other social media sites reached epic proportions. What he didn't know was that his fiancée's parents and siblings did not feel the same way about his views. They tolerated him, for the most part, until his rants crossed a line that triggered a family meeting. They did not want their daughter/sister marrying someone who was so politically opinionated.
Of course, the tension was too much to overcome, and they split up. It was not a cheap break-up (they rarely are). So be warned. If you are in a relationship with someone, and know your views will be a serious cause for concern for his or her family, keep them to yourself for as long as you can.
Have your political views ever cost you?