The Party of Sore Losers Is Bad for Business

The tea party is doing small business owners no favors by throwing a tantrum over a debate it already lost.

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It is time to start referring to the so-called "tea party" by a name it has truly earned: the Party of Sore Losers (POSERS, for short).

The old name always had the quality of one of those cheap knock-offs that seeks to associate itself with the name of something great in hopes that we'll get confused, though it's practically the opposite of the real thing. Indeed, this faction always was an imposter when it claimed affinity with the great Boston patriots of old. It's time to stop dignifying it with the association.

"The Party of Sore Losers," on the other hand, is a name the faction calling itself the tea party has earned. Those of us who grew up playing team sports or board games with kids from our neighborhoods all remember sore losers. Especially the ones who, after the opposing team scored a difficult touchdown or a game-changing point, would throw a tantrum and try to stop the game. Well, now the sore loser has a political faction to call his own.

Speaking of the kids in the neighborhood, every third grader in America learns how American democracy works. Both houses of the legislature pass a bill. The president signs it, and it becomes law. In some cases, the judiciary is even involved in affirming the law's constitutionality.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the tea party.]

All of the above happened for "Obamacare." Like many small business owners, I am uncertain what the impact of this law will be. Specifically, I am in the process of assessing whether the economy will be stable enough for me to hire with confidence this season. Like the many small business owners who have sought my help in trying to launch or grow amidst the ups and downs of the world economy of the last decade, I myself face uncertainty as I try to determine what the impact of the new health care law on my costs will be.

Yet this is nothing compared to the uncertainty about the core functioning of our system that businesses face today due to the recent antics of the POSERS, as when they decide to play fast and loose with our democratic process and with the financial obligations our government has racked up; when they misuse congressional procedure to shut the government down because they don't like the laws passed; and when they toy with whether to pay for the obligations the government has already incurred. When a faction behaves as the POSERS have, it gives the lie to any pretense that this faction supports the small business owner in America.

It's not just a matter of the specific government functions on which we business owners rely to develop innovations and conduct enterprise, from the Food and Drug Administration approvals needed to take new drugs to market to the IRS offices that process the documentation of a tax error. For businesspeople and consumers alike, a more fundamental uncertainty comes into play when a small but powerful faction refuses to accept honorably that it has lost through our democratic process, or that financial obligations, once incurred, need to be taken seriously.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

There are plenty of laws that I, as a small business owner, question. For example, soon after the Great Recession hit, I went through the process of having to obtain permission for a foreign worker on my team – who in every economic sense was plainly keeping a number of Americans in their jobs through her efficient performance of her function – to be allowed to work in the United States. Like many employers, I had to make an expensive, time-consuming and uncertainty-laden legal appeal, complete with rigid commitments unrelated to the market, simply to exercise my basic economic right to employ someone whose skills made my business stronger and helped me employ Americans.

Restrictions on the discretion of American businesses to hire and invest in developing people, without fear that these employees will be deported, are the opposite of free enterprise. Constraints on the liberty of those employees to make lives free from the threat that they may be booted out of the country are the opposite of opportunity.

I dream of a country in which small businesses and individuals don't have to succeed despite our government, a country characterized by lightweight regulatory processes designed to be manageable by small and growing businesses; a country that avoids stacking the deck against the entrepreneur. For it seems very basic to me that the entrepreneur, like the immigrant, is not only the source of our strength; he also has enough uncertainty to manage without our adding to it senselessly. Still, if I want to fight ridiculous restrictions on immigration, I have to do so through our democratic process.

The fierce opposition prevalent in the Party of Sore Losers to allowing immigrants to make their contributions and to compete freely shows these POSER conservatives' antagonism toward our system of free enterprise and the competitive marketplace. The virulent resistance of this faction to giving full legal rights to those who give our country the best of their talents and the sweat of their brows is an attack on enterprise capitalism itself.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

It is certainly not conservative. The very idea that immigrants should be prevented from freely seeking their fortunes here is the opposite of what that word means, if its meaning has anything to do with conserving the free enterprise values through which America came to be known to generations as the land of opportunity.

It is, plainly, a matter of "turning our back on our history," as billionaire entrepreneur and New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg put it in his graduation address at Stanford this year. In this address, Bloomberg stated the fundamental link between immigration, free enterprise and American innovation simply:

Every entrepreneur who wants to come here to start a business and create jobs in this country should have the chance to do so. They are the future leaders of major corporations that will employ millions of Americans. And every American business with job openings that can't be filled should be able to hire an immigrant who wants to work hard. American immigrants built the world's most innovative economy – and if it is to keep growing, if we're going to keep the American Dream alive, we need those in Washington to fix this broken system – and fix it now.

It is true: the restrictions on immigration favored by POSER Americans are not only anti-enterprise, they also represent a denial of our heritage, and a departure from the source of our strength as a nation.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

There are times when measured language is in order; then there are times when what's needed is to call a spade a spade. "Turning our back on our history" is hardly too strong a phrase. Bloomberg speaks of "national suicide." The Party of Sore Losers isn't really conservative in any meaningful sense of the word, is it?

As long as the GOP remains hijacked by this radical faction, the Republican Party must be written off as a viable source of conservative contributions to our competitive political process. We cannot look to it to keep our government limited if its idea of doing so is to bring the democratic process itself to a standstill. That is just what the Republican Party, hijacked by the POSERS, has done. It has done so not only through the present shutdown, but also through its unprecedented misuse of congressional procedures to obstruct the will of the majority. Speaker Boehner's refusal to put a "clean bill" that would end the shutdown to a vote, in the face of the likelihood that such a bill had the votes to pass, is but a culmination of this. The sore losers got their way with tantrums; spoiled, they scream for more.

What shall we tell those third graders, taught to think we as a nation uphold a different standard, premised on the fundamental principles of fair competition? If you don't like a law, you work to change it through our democracy. If you struggle, this is a land of opportunity. These principles are the foundation of our system.

In throwing a tantrum on the national and global stage, instead of honorably accepting that it lost the political battle over Obamacare, the Party of Sore Losers has shown the extent of its disregard for the principles of fair competition on which our political and economic system is based. Today, these POSERS who call themselves the tea party are giving our third graders a sad education indeed.

Alejandro Crawford is a senior consultant at Acceleration Group, where he develops strategy for leaders seeking to commercialize innovation and master change. He also teaches courses in entrepreneurship and growth strategy. He graduated from the Tuck School of Business in 2003.