A year ago, the Entrepreneurial Agenda took its campaign coverage to Iowa. In a conference room at the Des Moines Partnership, a handful of entrepreneurs gathered to discuss the issues that were most important to them and how well the candidates were addressing them. (You can read that entire conversation here.) Now, on the morning after, we thought we'd give those entrepreneurs the last word. So far, four of the original seven participants have recounted their experience; as we hear from the remaining three, we'll add their voices.
STEVE BOERS, owner and president of T3 Technologies, Inc., a design-build electrical contractor: Last year did not treat my business well. After eight years of success in business ownership, I am sad to say I had to close T3 Technologies Inc. We simply ran out of business opportunities and could no longer support ourselves. On a positive note, to date I have been able to avoid bankruptcy.
To avoid potential long lines I voted absentee ballot a week ago. The economy weighed heavily on my mind and I voted for Obama because he appears to be a person who will listen to his advisers, react accordingly, and not emotionally.
ROWENA CROSBIE, owner and president of Tero International, Inc., a corporate training firm, and Tero Seed Company: This was my first federal election since becoming a U.S. Citizen. There are many benefits to US Citizenship, but it is the right to vote that leads many immigrants, like myself, to pursue naturalization. This year seemed like an especially important one to participate in, and I was thrilled to get the chance to vote.
My voting experience was unremarkable, which is one of the beautiful things about a true democracy. I'm on vacation in Maui this week and had two choices: early voting or absentee voting. I opted for absentee and the process was simple. I understand from friends in Iowa that the lines at the polls this morning were long, even before they opened, so I was grateful for the absentee ballot that I was able to complete and mail in a couple of weeks ago. Like most voters, we're sticking pretty close to a TV today to see the results. In Hawaii we have the benefit of seeing them pretty early in the day owing to the time change.
The issues most important to me seem to be shared by many: economy, international relations, immigration, healthcare, energy policy, taxes, national security and the appointment of Supreme Court Justices. There were many things to vote for on our ballot in Dallas County and I voted a split ticket. For President, I cast my vote for Senator Obama. It is my hope that he is able to run the country as effectively as he has run his campaign.
WAYNE HANSEN, owner and president of Control Installations of Iowa, Inc., a building systems integrator with 84 employees: Business is good here in the Midwest. I am cautiously optimistic this will continue.
Yes, I went to the polls at about 8:00 a.m. expecting a long line of voters. Instead, I was in and out in about five minutes. I saw a neighbor and had a brief discussion with him. He was also surprised that there were not more people there. I believe that Iowa, once more, served as a great place for a sounding board last January as we started the presidential political process. Obama's candidacy would probably have quickly died if he had not been able to pull off the win over Hillary in our state with a low minority population but which was obviously open-minded concerning political equality. McCain was a bigger winner in Iowa than Huckabee in January when he came from behind and made a respectable showing. In the end he pulled it off over the more conservative Republican candidates.
When I went back and reviewed my comments to you from last January, you will notice that I felt Obama represented real change because of his message concerning his refusal to accept special-interest contributions. I'm not really sure how he ended up morphing into a candidate with an extremely different message, breaking those promises made in Iowa. In the end he doesn't represent a political behavioral change, it's just more of the same from a politician. I was very disappointed that he didn't continue on the path of his original message. That said, I was furious with both candidates for the high-pressure sales job that was put upon the American people concerning the $700 billion bailout. Either one of them could have won my vote on that issue alone by voting against it. First our political gatekeepers allow this meltdown to occur because of their lack of oversight and burying their heads in the sand, and then they rob the national treasury to cover their asses, all the while telling us we should vote for them because they are watching out for us. I'm just completely worn out with the whole partisan carousal.
Oh yeah, how did I vote? I am a registered Independent. I held my nose and voted for McCain.
JOSH MORE, part owner of Alliance Technologies, which bills itself as the largest full-service information technology firm in Iowa: As I always do, I chose to vote absentee, which gives me the opportunity to research the smaller races and make an informed choice. I received my ballot in early October and picked a Saturday to do my research. As is often the case, the presidential and congressional races were simple. The other local contests were fairly easy to decide, which just left me with the judges. These are difficult, as the case records are not generally easy to find. I interviewed several friends of mine who work in the legal system and was able to cast my vote. I mailed my ballot back in mid October and just waited out the rest of the race. Thus, I cannot speak for voter turnout at the polling places this morning.
For me, by the end of the race, the main issue was trust. Simply put, I think that Obama will make a better president than McCain. He is inspirational and has a consistent message. He's young, but seems to be able to find good advisers, which makes up for that flaw. In contrast, McCain seemed unable to actually discuss the issues and ran a primarily negative campaign, defining himself by denigrating his opponent. We need a president who can understand the people and countries in opposition and work out a workable solution. McCain is simply not that man, Obama may be.
The other issues that were looming at the beginning of the race -- taxes, the war(s), health care, etc -- became unimportant. Taxes will go up with either candidate; that's seemed inevitable from the beginning. We simply cannot fund two wars on a contracting economy. With the recent financial collapse (which, due to McCain's Keating Five involvement, just harmed him all the further), taxes will likely have to go up even higher. Similarly, the wars will have to end. We're not wanted in either place, and we can't afford to stay there. Also, health care will have to be somewhat socialized, as we cannot afford to support a nation of ailing elderly without going for economies of scale. I don't think that the mechanisms through which that occurs will matter.
So, in the end, with it seeming like either candidate would functionally have to deal with the same issues in the same ways, I voted for the person that I think can do it without resorting to fear mongering and fomenting hatred. We, as a nation, have had enough of that.
UPDATE, Monday, 6:25 pm
ADAM CARROLL, who speaks professionally to students about financial literacy and is owns Four Legacies Mortgage: I ended up voting, but I did it by absentee ballot. I was a fairly decided voter right from the beginning and went with Barack Obama. I did so for a few reasons:
1. He is in touch with this country and what it needs right now
2. My Grandpa is a hard-core Democrat and has been for years. He ran for governor of Iowa in the '70s on the platform of legalizing marijuana, prostitution, and gambling. You could say I've been influenced by him over the years.
3. I heard McCain's response to a question about the middle class being made up of anyone making $5 million a year or less and about choked on my Value Meal.
I thought what was especially poignant about the race was the very end. The "celebration" parties held by both men couldn't have been more of a stark contrast. Obama held his at a public park in Chicago where Oprah was rubbing elbows with homeless people. McCain's party was an invite-only celebration at the Arizona Biltmore. Hello'¶ can you say as different as night and day?