DUBLIN, Ireland -- Dan Mica, CUNA's president and CEO, paced the stage with almost missionary zeal at the WOCCU 2006 World CU Conference as he talked about the importance of politics for credit unions.
Beginning with the number of stories throughout history where an outcome was changed by a single vote, including the loss of a U.S. credit union law, he said, "Never again," would he let that happen.
He named three principles of politics that were behind the creation of CUNA's politicking efforts:
1. All politics is local.
2. Out of sight, out of mind.
3. What have you done for me lately?
He said that for years U.S. credit unions weren't a regular presence on Capitol Hill. Through their Hike for The Hill program, credit union people are regularly coming to their representatives' and senators' offices. He said a Vermont senator pointed out that once he rarely saw anyone on a credit union issue, now they were in his office in what seemed to be a weekly basis.
Mica spoke of CUNA's Zip Code project where they can quickly draw on the number of credit union constituents. He maintained when talking to a legislator, it helped to be able to say, "There are 240,000 credit union members in your district that care about this."
CUNA has created a PAC. It helps to be able to offer contributions to get men and women on The Hill to listen.
Mica mentioned when he was in Ireland a few years back, he saw a building called Credit Union House. He felt that the U.S. Congress needed to see a Credit Union House. CUNA's now is close to the Capitol. They regularly invite Congressmen over there. A technology buff, Mica has a screen and hook-ups so credit union people from the Congressman's home district can wave and ask questions directly. Mica's smile left no doubt how effective he thought that was.
He is concerned with the banks' virulent attacks on credit unions. He said he has seen a list of banks' priorities where the No. 1 item was to get credit unions taxed and lower down the scale was to fight terrorism and put their own financial houses in order.
As he paced and talked, he made it clear to the 1,850 attendees he was not giving up the battle and that whatever battles they fought in their countries, they should apply the three principles of politics while never giving up.