Posted on Sep 16, 2008
John M Grau
Maybe I’m taking this too personally, but I don’t think either presidential campaign likes me very much. The media is against me, too. It may be self-centered to think so, but I keep imagining that they have a picture of me posted somewhere with the words “bad guy” underneath it.
Why am I all of a sudden so undesirable to political campaigns and media pundits? Well, I’m the product of a small town (population: 500). The high school I attended was part of a consolidated school district, and my graduating class had less than 200 students. I went to church every Sunday (still do), and I owned shotguns (still do), hunted, and knew how to field dress small game (might have forgotten how to do that).
My dad was a small businessman. He ran his own neighborhood grocery store and later opened up a one-man real estate brokerage. In addition, he served on the County Board of Supervisors. We received calls at home from his constituents whenever they had a problem with county services.
Once he received an irate call from a lady who ended up being unhappy with his answer. She suggested that he was overpaid. My dad said he figured out that he cost her four and one-half cents per year in taxes. He said he would mail her back a nickel, and she could keep the change.
At any rate, listening to condescending comments about small town ways and values – “clinging to guns and religion” – hits home to me. I can relate to Sarah Palin. The media thinks those of us who grew up in rural areas are naïve and amusing.
On the other hand, it seems that Palin doesn’t like me that much either. Both campaigns have railed against special interest lobbyists and Washington insiders. Despite my small town roots, I now live in the Washington, D.C. area, and I work for a special interest group with a well-funded PAC. I feel like I need to sneak down back streets with sunglasses on, and my baseball cap pulled down low over my face. (For my views on special interests please see my April 30 posting on this blog).
The interesting fact is that whoever gets elected will be looking to associations and association PACs like NECA for information and money. They can’t operate without us, and they shouldn’t. We have as much right to participate in our government as anyone, as well as a professional responsibility to our industry and public safety.
I was concerned how NECA’s status as having one of the 50 largest PACs in the country might reflect on our members. One of our political consultants, Robert Raben, told me not to worry. Electrical contractors are small business people, and small business can do no wrong. Small business owners are your neighborhood grocers or real estate agents, like my dad. Both political parties recognize small businesses as the biggest source of economic and job growth, and they want to be associated with them.
So it seems that in this election NECA contractors are golden. I, on the other hand, am left to bitterly cling to my guns, religion, and Gucci loafers.