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The credit union industry is searching for improved profitability but is falling into the trap of pursuing business lines and strategies that blur the distinction between banks and CUs. I submit that if CUs dilute their distinction from banks, banks will gain more market share with their vastly larger budgets and more extensive partnerships. I propose a different course.

That different course can be seen in a political analogy.

There are relevant lessons that can be learned from the success of Senator Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) presidential campaign strategy. It has succeeded in selling messages for new thinking, change and collaboration with a grass-roots voice. His campaign has affirmed that many disenfranchised people can be mobilized. In particular, a notoriously apathetic demographic, young people, have been successfully engaged. One key to this strategy is the perception of choice–differentiating his message from that of Senator Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign and from the current administration, which he has convincingly characterized as the same old political model.

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