In the midst of today’s polarizing political climate, I sometimes hear people say they prefer not to get involved in politics. It’s dirty, negative and depressing. It’s a sport fought with knives. All of which may be true to a point. But, as distasteful as politics may be, politics will never ignore you. It will influence the amount you take home in your paycheck, the quality of your children’s education, the condition of the roads you travel on, the safety of your neighborhoods and so much more. The only question is whether you’ll influence politics.
Someone once advised me to figure out reality and deal with it, even if I don’t like it. The reality is, politics influences elections which determine who will lead our government. Government is intricately woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. As businessmen and businesswomen, we have certainly experienced government reaching into our professions, trades and businesses. Whoever wins elections gets to establish priorities, policy and the direction of government.
As David Plouffe, President Obama’s campaign manager, has observed, everything a city, county, state or the country has done as a government body has flowed from an election. Take the United States as an example. We built the interstate highway system because President Eisenhower won an election in 1952 and made interstate travel a priority after his experience in Europe in World War II. We went to the moon and back because President John F. Kennedy was elected in 1960 and made it the policy of the United States to beat the Soviet Union in the space race during the Cold War. We set aside millions of acres and established the National Park System because President Teddy Roosevelt won a national election and decided large swaths of wilderness in this country should be protected and conserved for the benefit of all current and future Americans.
All of these great big things and hundreds of smaller ones flowed from an election. Every tax increase or decrease, every war we fought, every regulation imposed or rescinded in some way or another flowed from an election.
This is why it is critical for business executives, owners and professionals—who are uniquely experienced, competent and qualified—to get involved in the sometimes challenging and frustrating world of politics. Don’t let career politicians with narrow windows of experience and no understanding of the day-to-day challenges of business make important decisions without the benefit of feeling your influence in some positive way.
The readers of Nevada Business Magazine are those to whom I make this plea. Many of you should take a season during your business, trade or professional careers to run for public office. Most elected offices do not require you to quit your day job: school board trustees, board of regents, city council members, state assemblymen and assemblywomen, state senators. If it’s not your time to run for public office, support a candidate who is and who shares your values and priorities. Speak personally with your representatives in government, testify before the legislature on bills you support or oppose, get engaged with government affairs committees within your business, trade or profession.
My final pitch for political involvement is to quote Einsenhower. He said, “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.”
You don’t have to do it full-time, just commit yourself to politics part-time. Business executives, owners and professionals cannot ignore politics because politics will not ignore them.
Mark Hutchison, Lieutenant Governor of Nevada