That is politics anyway? Dictionaries define it with words such as policy setting, opinions, affairs of state, running the government, governmental theory, or statesmanship. Pretty heady sounding stuff, but what is it really?
The citizens of Iowa charge both sides some $60 million every four years just to tell them how they feel politically. Not bad work if you can get it; good for you, Iowa. The voters of Dixville Notch, N.H., (all 75 or so of them) stay up until 12:01 a.m. the day of the primary so they can vote first. Pretty exciting. They do it every four years because they’re involved; not many people live there, but a lot of people know about the town.
The networks sponsor debates so we can hear what the candidates think — where they stand — then after the debate, those same networks tell us what the candidates really meant by what they said. Listen and decide for yourself.
One of my favorite definitions of politics is when you want something approved and you don’t get it, that’s politics; when you do get it approved it’s not politics, it’s preparation.
Does politics make any difference to us in the remodeling business? Nah, why would it? We don’t need politicians; they just come around asking for money. If there is something on the ballot that we don’t like, we can vote against it. Done deal, but is it? Aren’t we better off working to elect good people with integrity and judgment so we can feel they will approach a problem the right way and find a solution?
We have some bad eggs in government but, generally, we are blessed with some really good public servants — not because you can get him or her to give you something shady, but because they are reasonable and fair.
If you belong to a trade association, probably some of your money is used to support a candidate through BuildPAC or a similar organization. We work to get the right people elected, those who understand business, and ones who will listen when we offer advice.
Congress was about to pass an immigration bill that would hold the contractor responsible if one of his subs had an illegal alien on the payroll. You might not even have known it, yet you would have been guilty. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) went to Capitol Hill and lobbied against that part of the bill, and it didn’t pass. Who do you suppose would have done that if NAHB hadn’t? Anybody? What about lead-safe work practices on the job site? What were reasonable standards? NAHB spent $250,000 on research to show what was reasonable. Who else would have done that?
I almost got beat up a year or so ago when I suggested in this column that we as contractors make sure that, if licensing was inevitable in our area, we participate in the process. You don’t have to give money; you can volunteer to work on a candidate’s behalf. If you don’t like the people who are in office, go to work to change the incumbents into former office holders.
There are three things you can do about the way things are being run: you can pull up stakes and leave (the grass is always greener right?); you can keep your head down and hope for the best (except if you aren’t the lead dog, the view is always the same); or you can get involved and have something to say about how it’s done. Sure there’s a little risk to getting involved, but there is more risk in doing nothing.
We admire successful companies. Most of the top-line companies I know of around the country are involved in their communities either personally or through their trade association. They participate; that’s all that’s necessary. All too often we let someone else decide who will run the government — local, state or national — and when that happens, the only thing we can do is to gripe about “politics”. If you get involved and participate, no matter what happens with the vote, you’re on the winning side.