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Can we all get along?.

The next presidential election takes place on Nov. 8,2016. During those 449 days, anything can happen. Jim Gilmore could take off to become the GOP standard-bearer and face off against Democrat Martin O'Malley (yes, we had to look both of them up too).

The one thing we do know is we'll have 449 days to become politically outraged about something, and political outrage is not good for business. There are exceptions: Bumper sticker manufacturers, advertising agencies and many forms of media like TV and newspapers profit from political conflict (business newspapers like this one, not so much). Social media in particular thrives on outrage--outrage and selfies.

But businesses, particularly enterprises that serve the public, generally don't gain from alienating potential customers.

Last week saw a couple of examples of unnecessary friction.

In Fayetteville, supporters and foes of a proposed city ordinance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity clashed at a rally held to protest the ordinance. Police were called and the ordinance supporters left without further incident.

In Little Rock, a restaurateur emptied a water pitcher on a small band of protesters outside his downtown restaurant.

The protesters were demonstrating while Sen. Ted Cruz dined with Gov. Asa Hutchinson. The restaurateur, who said his action wasn't politically motivated, has apologized, but his business was vilified on social media.

"We didn't have anyone ask us to move or claim that we were blocking their way," one of the protesters, who were described as peaceful and quiet, told the Arkansas Democrat- Gazette. "We actually had really good public dialogue with a lot of the patrons who were coming out of" the restaurant.

There's an ancient but still relevant insight into outrage: "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger."

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Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Aug 17, 2015
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