Local businesses in Madison are not scared of voicing their
political viewpoints. And I applaud them.

Take, for instance, back when Gov. Scott Walker decided to
demolish the possibility of a high-speed rail. In response, Chris Berge, one of
the most successful faces in the Madison restaurant business, owner and founder
of places like the Weary Traveler, Barriques, Natt Spil, Restaurant Magnus and
Blue Marlin, tore up his 10-year lease to start a biker-friendly restaurant in
proximity to the downtown railroad station.
In his interview with the Cap Times, he stated, “A healthy middle class is way
more helpful to me than a tax cut.”

Berge brought up a glorious point. Over and over again, it
has been pointed out how the class gap continues to increase as the middle and
lower class continue to suffer from decline. This is not good for Small
Business America.

Small businesses, to me, are the most important businesses.
The bigger the corporation, the more inhuman it becomes. As the distance
between managers and employees increases, the importance of money tramples over
everything else. I don’t expect for businesses to care less about money – I
just expect the care for the well-being of employees to be just as high as the
care of money.

Small businesses offer opportunities for people to obtain jobs
with fair wages and rights. For this reason, it’s important to have more
support for small businesses in this nation and, more importantly, this state. There
should be more resources for people to start a small business and a greater
focus on helping them succeed and having a voice.

Having a voice – that’s the issue I’d like to presently
draw attention to.

There has recently been a lot of hubbub as to whether or not
the new and hip restaurant called Merchant, located on the square, denied
service to Walker. At the time that I visited Merchant this past Friday,
I thought nothing grand of this when my friend, who works at Merchant, told me
about it. I just chuckled and went on with my delightful dinner.

Turns out, however, this had sparked quite the flame
among bloggers. Naomi Houser was the original poster.
From there, such blogs like the Underground Conservative have attacked both Naomi and the restaurant. The restaurant received numerous
threatening phone calls as a result and has turned to neither confirming nor
denying the event happened. What a shame, because if I were the owner, I think
that would be something I’d like to brag about.

With the current state of affairs, I can see how it might be
in the best interest of the restaurant’s employees to neither confirm nor deny
the event happened. Who in their right mind wants to deal with non-stop phone
calls from crazy conservatives who are dishing out zero starred reviews simply
because they are pro-Walker (question: Have they actually even visited the
restaurant?). Moreover, Merchant is trying to make something of its new
business; the last thing it needs on its plate are threats of arson.

All the spiteful bloggers out there claiming that Merchant
did this as a publicity stunt are being ridiculous. Merchant doesn’t need to
create elaborate lies to gain customers – visit them on any given evening and
you will see their food and drinks speak for themselves. Whether or not
this actually happened, why bother caring this much? It’s not like Walker can
sue the restaurant for this – the denial of service wasn’t based off of race,
color, religion, national origin or disability.

Frankly, I think that if Walker is going to deny
people their rights, I don’t see the problem with a restaurant denying him
service. Consistently, we have been watching the man claim that he has a lot of
supporters. Well, I think downtown Madison is trying to show him just how
blind-sighted he is being. And I don’t see the problem with that. When people
feel like they aren’t being heard, they are going to scream louder.

Victoria Yakovleva ([email protected]) is
a senior majoring in chemical engineering.