Hugh Morgan, owner of Satchel’s BBQ in Ann Arbor, doesn’t describe himself as a political guy.
He’s a barbecue guy, and his staff will tell you that Morgan preaches about the importance of keeping your focus on what you do well. “We can’t be all things to all people,” he’ll say, “even in the realm of barbecue.”
Then why, his staff wanted to know, did he publish an online post about Michigan’s Proposal 6 on Satchel’s Web site?
“It’s funny,” Morgan explains with a chuckle, “I hadn’t discussed it with the staff ahead of time, and when we talked about it, they did not think it was a good idea.”
From Satchel’s blog:
I have decided to dip my toe into the murky waters of politics this year. I do so reluctantly. I am fully aware that folks come to Satchel’s for good food and service, not to hear me opine about headlines in the news. And generally speaking, I avoid controversial discussions like politics and religion and the designated hitter (a terrible idea!) After all, I am from the Deep South. I grew up in a society where children were seen but not heard and where everyone avoided broaching any indelicate subjects. We liked to talk about things like Alabama football and the weather. And golf. Lots of talk about golf.
Despite these reservations, I have decided to give away pulled pork sandwiches (one per customer) on November 7, 2012 (the day after Election Day) if Michigan votes against Proposal 6. Proposal 6 is a much advertised (but often misunderstood) proposal that is financed and supported by the Ambassador Bridge Company (the folks who own….you guessed it, the Ambassador Bridge!)
Morgan said that he loves to banter with customers and staff about any subject, but when discussing the blog post, his employees, “in their own unique way, said, ‘What were you doing?!?”
Morgan attempted to explain his rationale for getting involved in this issue. He cited the reasons listed in his blog, here. And then one employee asked the question that made it clear to Morgan that this was an issue worth addressing:
What do you have against a bridge, anyway?
“That was the crystallizing moment, because several people are saying I think we need a second bridge, I think I’ll vote yes,” but Morgan says the fact that a yes vote is actually against a second bridge is only one piece of the confusion. “The whole thing can be summed up in one word: confusion.”
Morgan says he looked at polling data early in October, and was surprised to see that the votes were rather evenly split. He said deceitful political ads also “lit the fire,” prompting him to address this issue.
So what if Proposal 6 is defeated?
Satchel’s BBQ Pulled Pork cooks overnight, so Morgan said he’ll have to tune in and take an educated guess at the outcome before the polls even close on election night. He’ll need to purchase and begin cooking extra meat even before knowing the results of the vote.
Morgan said he hadn’t put any thought into how many sandwiches he might serve up on November 7th if the proposal is defeated. “I bet we won’t do 100, but I hope it’s double that. It’ll be fun, maybe bring in some new people. It’ll be a charitable sort of celebration.”
And as for other ballot matters, Morgan is making no political promises. Will there be free brisket or sides for any of the other election outcomes? “No,” Morgan responds with a laugh, “I don’t have the illusion that my opinion is all that important.”
Morgan does not plan to get political over any of the other matters going to vote. “Proposal 2, the library, those are tough issues. There is no genuinely obvious right answer. Even if you feel strongly about it, you can at least acknowledge the debate.”
But Morgan feels differently about Proposal 6. He is hoping that, as a state, we can first “get a consensus on the easy stuff.” As a small business owner he’s hoping his message is clear: “Our community wants our state to be better.”