Associations are the voice.Associations are strong vehicles for representative government.
Our 16th president once said, "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent." When we go to Capitol Capitol, seat of the U.S. Congress
Capitol, seat of the U.S. government at Washington, D.C. It is the city's dominating monument, built on an elevated site that was chosen by George Washington in consultation with Major Pierre L'Enfant. Hill to represent our associations, our presence reminds legislators of Lincoln's words.
Recently, however, some in Congress have chosen to neglect Lincoln's wisdom. These government representatives criticize crit·i·cize
v. crit·i·cized, crit·i·ciz·ing, crit·i·ciz·es
1. To find fault with: criticized the decision as unrealistic. See Usage Note at critique. what they perceive as a multitude of special interests abounding in Washington, D.C. They justify this critical look at various constituencies with the 1994 federal election results. Some public officials view the turnover of both House and Senate as a national mandate: The people are saying, "No more business as usual. Americans want bold initiatives to correct what is wrong with the country."
Congress tends to look for simple answers to complicated questions. In this case, those on the Hill have attempted to deflect de·flect
intr. & tr.v. de·flect·ed, de·flect·ing, de·flects
To turn aside or cause to turn aside; bend or deviate.
[Latin d the public's restlessness restlessness
a state manifested by increased motor activity, constant walking, vocalizing, lying down and getting up. May be caused by psychological factors, e.g. separation from young, or by pain, or deprivation of water. by claiming special interests are responsible for congressional legislative gridlock Gridlock
A government, business or institution's inability to function at a normal level due either to complex or conflicting procedures within the administrative framework or to impending change in the business. . Just who are these special interests? Look in the mirror. Each of us probably reflects several special interests. That's what That's What is one of the more idiosyncratic releases by solo steel-string guitar artist Leo Kottke. It is distinctive in it's jazzy nature and "talking" songs ("Buzzby" and "Husbandry"). makes representative government representative.
Recently, associations have been targeted by Congress for promoting special interests, and I guess we're guilty as charged. But why shouldn't associations represent member interests before Congress? Isn't that what representative government is all about?
One real strength of associations is evident in the definition of the term. Each association is a group of like-minded individuals or companies that interact for the mutual benefit of all. Not only is there safety in numbers in numbered parts; as, a book published in numbers.
See also: Number , there is also power, especially in Washington. Small companies derive positive value from being associated with large ones. The process works the other way, too. Larger firms find that sometimes their very size works against them. Who do you think engenders more empathy empathy
Ability to imagine oneself in another's place and understand the other's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. The empathic actor or singer is one who genuinely feels the part he or she is performing. - an impersonal im·per·son·al
1. Lacking personality; not being a person: an impersonal force.
a. Showing no emotion or personality: an aloof, impersonal manner. multinational conglomerate conglomerate, in business
conglomerate, corporation whose asset growth, often very rapid, comes largely through the acquisition of, or merger with, other firms whose products are largely unrelated to each other or to that of the parent company. or the local store owner who knows the member of Congress or senator on a first-name basis?
It's interesting to note that some members of Congress have been critical of associations when, in fact, associations exist for the same reasons as Congress: to debate issues and determine a common course of action that benefits all.
Associations and their members will probably continue to come under scrutiny by Congress. Unprecedented and unjustified criticism of associations for simply participating in the legislative process will not diminish overnight. But associations need to be heard on Capitol Hill.
Constituent relations probably take up more time than almost any other exercise for a member of Congress. It's how members get elected and, more important, how they remain in office. Those who lobby recognize this fact and make senators and representatives aware of how their constituents feel about issues and how issues will affect them.
So each association periodically should audit its government affairs process. Do you have a grass-roots organization in place? Are you communicating to your members about issues of common concern? Do you have a way of speaking in a unified voice to Congress?
Washington is sometimes a contradiction in terms Noun 1. contradiction in terms - (logic) a statement that is necessarily false; "the statement `he is brave and he is not brave' is a contradiction"
logic - the branch of philosophy that analyzes inference . Considering that it's our nation's capital, it has a small-town feel. Communication is the currency that adds value to congressional politics. People involved with a particular issue generally attend the same hearings, show up at the same meetings, and talk to the same people. What that means is no communication is privileged. Anyone with an interest in a particular issue or position has ready access to it. That's why I believe every citizen should be involved in our democratic process. Associations provide the best means for many of us to have our voices heard in Washington.
I also encourage active association members to take it to the next level. Look at what the American Society of Association Executives The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) is a non-profit professional organization for executive directors and executive vice presidents of professional societies both in the United States and abroad. , Washington, D.C., is doing and how you can get involved.
There is no doubt in my mind that some will continue to be critical of those of us in associations. We will be singled out as special interests that inhibit inhibit /in·hib·it/ (in-hib´it) to retard, arrest, or restrain.
1. To hold back; restrain.
2. rather than aid the legislative process. The best way to overcome this is to work within the association framework to prove our value as legislative resources.
Thomas Jefferson once said, "Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle." I think we in the association community understand this. The question is, does Congress distinguish between the two?
RELATED ARTICLE: HIGHLIGHTS
* ASSOCIATIONS EXIST for the same reasons as Congress: to debate issues and determine a common course of action that benefits all.
* IT'S IMPORTANT FOR EACH association to periodically assess its government affairs process. Do you have a grass-roots organization in place? Do you have a way of speaking in a unified voice to Congress?
RELATED ARTICLE: Twelve Reasons Why America Needs to Sustain Its Not-for-Profit Associations
* Stakeholder stakeholder n. a person having in his/her possession (holding) money or property in which he/she has no interest, right or title, awaiting the outcome of a dispute between two or more claimants to the money or property. participation
* Community service
* Global competition