Getting Politicians on Our Side
Happy New Year. Or should I say, Happy Election Year, because, like it or not, this is an important election year.
Happy New Year. Or should I say, Happy Election Year, because, like
it or not, this is an important election year. The Presidency is
up for grabs, and so, too, at least, the House of Representatives.
If we are silent now, when the candidates are running, you can bet
they will be pretty silent in return when we ask for their support
on important legislative votes. We have to go to work now, and stay
at it all the way through November so that when the persons who
are elected assume office they will know who we are and what we
need, and will respond in kind.
Credit Union Point Persons
There are not many candidates running for president, and what few
there are, are going to thin out this winter in the first flush
of primaries. We should find someone who can go all out on each
candidate's campaign. Not only would this person pour a lot of energy
into the campaign but also tell the candidate that he or she can
be the source of information and wisdom about credit unions and
credit union members, being sure, of course, that the candidate
understands that the number of credit union members in this country
runs to 70 million.
Eventually, one of the candidates is going to be elected president.
If all works out well, our 'point person' will still have the ear
of the president on credit union matters when the new administration
runs the country and the gratitude of the president for help in
his campaign. But we have to get these 'point persons' into place
right away. Of almost equal importance is to work on candidates
for the House of Representatives. We should have some of our people
working on most candidates' campaigns. Some candidates are, of course,
hopeless, but the majority are open to effective arguments in favor
of credit union issues. As in the presidential campaign, we should
work both sides of the aisle; we need not favor either Democrats
or Republicans but only persons who will honestly consider and hopefully
support our credit union appeals.
Again, we cannot wait for September to do this. We should start
now and stick with it so our message can sink in. 'Hit them early
and often' should be our guide slogan here.
The Money Game
Candidates love volunteer support, but they love money even more.
Our point persons should work all their credit union contacts and
ask for financial support for the candidate they are supporting.
PACs really are not going to get the job done any more. Candidates
need lots of individuals who can sit down and write them a check.
The Credit Union Appeal
So here is what a point person might attempt to do: Use the credit
union's newsletter or Website to solicit funds from members for
candidates. The appeal to the members might go something like this:
'Members, we are not recommending which candidate to support --
we do not think that is appropriate -- only that you support one
in a significant way. Demonstrate to the candidate of your choice
that credit union clout makes a difference. Do so by writing a check
to his or her campaign and add something like the following: 'I
am a credit union member for good government. I want to assure the
freedom of choice of Americans to join a credit union and in this
cause I am sending you this check in support of your campaign. It's
for credit unions that I am supporting you.'"
I don't know how many members will respond to such an appeal, but
even a few would likely have an impact. Candidates don't forget
letters like that. Such letters should come in a steady stream,
so the message is etched in their brains.
It's Time to Act
I hope that the importance of this work is appreciated across credit
union land. In the last Congress, the banks finally got what they
had been working decades for. But the landscape for credit unions
is basically unchanged since the 1930s and we now have more fetters
than other financial industry institutions. In the next Congress
and under the next presidential administration will be written the
rules for credit unions for a long time to come.
By working now for candidates we can be assured later of friends
in high places.