Pumping Yourself Up Ahead of GAC: Editor's Column
In my roles over the years at Credit Union Times, I’ve attended 11 of the last 12 Governmental Affairs Conferences held by CUNA–forgive me a maternity leave. The event always attracts high-caliber members of Congress who are key connections for credit unions to develop. It also attracts the largest credit union crowd of any conference around, and Washington, D.C., isn’t normally as pleasant in February and March as it has been this year.
Sitting down to write this column, I was thinking, as you may, “What good does it do to have congressmen and senators, who often know relatively little about credit unions specifically, come speak to the group?” How is it beneficial to credit unions to listen to members of Congress, particularly in an election year, spout off about their pet political projects or sometimes make campaign stump speeches?
Credit unions need to up their own games. If you’re volunteering, great. Keep it up and do more. If you’re donating, keep it up and do more. If you’re working on a nonpartisan GOTV campaign, how can you expand that using social media? Even if you’re not comfortable with supporting one candidate over another, you can make members aware of certain issues that are important to your credit union, such as a sustainable energy bill that might be heading up for a vote.
The credit union community will need to have this foundation of political involvement, not only internally, but with credit union members should a life threatening issue, like Treasury’s proposal to combine the federal banking regulators, arise. Hosting debates between candidates at your headquarters or inviting politicians to cut the ribbon on your new branch are great ways to grab attention that don’t necessarily have to be partisan. These types of events also build credibility among your members on political issues and as a pillar of the community.