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The discipline of political science is not simply the study of who wins elections, it’s also a study of where people live, what kind of work they do and the culture of specific regions. In Vancouver, Washington a volunteer-grassroots group mobilized to save Columbia Credit Union who, like Community CU, was contemplating a charter conversion to a bank. If you are wondering why there has been no successful member-driven grassroots effort in Plano, Texas, the answer is not complicated, it’s simply political. The best measure of political attitudes in our representative republic occurs every four years. Our modern democracy has two contemporary competing theories that define the two prominent political parties. One (Democratic) believes in a more active role of the Federal Government to insure fairness and equality of outcomes. The other (Republican) supports a limited role of the Federal Government in business, banking, health care and a number of other contemporary issues. It does not matter what you think, voters ultimately decide. Credit unions project messages of not-for-profit and collective financial effort. Those themes may play well in Washington State, but in Texas.not so much. Washington State voted for John Kerry by a margin of 53% to George W. Bush’s 46%. The state that borders Columbia Credit Union’s Clark County is Oregon. Oregon also voted for Kerry (52-48%) as did the rest of the West Coast. Texas went for Bush by a margin of 61% to 38%. The nearest blue state to Texas is 1,000 miles away in Illinois or 1,500 miles distant in California. To be fair, Columbia Credit Union is in a county (Clark) that went for Bush by a narrow margin of 52% to 47%. Collin County, where Community CU is located, went for Bush by a staggering 71% to 28%. In Vancouver, Washington getting a group of people together to save a not-for-profit, member-owned financial collective is possible. In Collin County, Texas..it’s just not going to happen. Collin County is home to some of the largest for-profit companies in America. Members of Community Credit Union go to work at the corporate headquarters of EDS, JC Penney, Computer Associates, Pizza Hut and Mary Kay. They work for small businesses or own their own companies. They live and work in a for-profit world and eschew government programs and vote for tax cuts. That does not make the citizens of Plano, Texas better or worse than their fellow Americans in Vancouver, Washington; it just makes them different. In Flint, Michigan or Brooklyn, New York the word “union” is stated with pride. That is part of a regional political culture. But it is not the political culture of Texas. It is a simple regional and political difference that has been part of our country since its founding. The NCUA is located in the deepest blue sector of our republic: Washington D.C. Is it not fair to suggest that perhaps some of that blue culture colors their decisions. Don’t we have the right to question the effectiveness of the leaders they send out to trump up this ridiculous notion that there is a credit union movement? Credit unions are engaged in a number of political issues ranging from taxation to CURIA and everything in-between. The NCUA has chosen to take the classic role as a heavy-handed government bureaucracy. That mentality simply does not play in the red states where government activism has been going down to political defeat since the early 1990′s. What is left is the glaring need for leadership. Dan Mica, Dick Ensweiler and others are simply not getting the job done. What color is your credit union? And what does it mean to the future of your business? Are you willing to wish your members a, “Merry Christmas” or do you cower to the tyranny of the minority and hide behind “Happy Holidays?” In the past we have avoided discussing politics at work to be polite. It’s clearly time to start facing the facts that if credit unions want to score meaningful legislative victories, it’s time to honestly examine where their voters live, what they care about and what they don’t. It is quite possible that doing so will prove that the NCUA and many credit union leaders are pulling credit unions onto the wrong side of several political issues. One thing is certain, the current leaders of the credit union marketplace who attend a conference a week can not escape this fact.Omni-American and Community were lost on your watch. Jason Dias Trainer, historian, consultant Marquis Software Plano, Texas

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