Political Action: It’s Time to Get in the Game

Dave Kilby

With reapportionment and the mood of the nation potentially swinging toward the center, 2022 could be the perfect time for more chambers to engage in political action.

Brad Hicks emphasized this point while accepting his W.A.C.E. Life Membership at our conference last month: “You have to engage in advocacy and political action. I really mean engage. I’m not talking about forums and distributing ecumenical information. I mean when your members are getting bullied…you stand up for them. When it’s the same people doing the bullying year in and year out…you replace them. More and more, the two major political parties are driven by the 10% on the far right and the 10% on the far left, holding hostage the 80% of us in the sane center, who recognize that we HAVE actual problems and we just want them SOLVED, not used as campaign fodder. That 80% is starved for vision and leadership…and that ought to come for you and your chambers.”

Yes…vision and leadership!

With more than 24,000 responses from businesspersons to our W.A.C.E. Chamber Performance Survey, 71% say that it is VERY IMPORTANT for their chambers to help elect business-friendly candidates to office.

Help from Boot Camp

Admittedly, the definition of “help elect” can take many different forms and pathways. And those options will dominate the program content and discussion at our Political Action Boot Camp in Las Vegas on Thursday, May 19.

Among the Boot Camp agenda items will be:

• Today’s Political Landscape.

• Political Action A to Z.

• Setting the Stage for Success.

• Influencing Outcomes Without Endorsing.

• Essentials for Winning Elections.

• Maneuvering Through the Land Mines: Best Practices and Lessons Learned.

Why is it that pretty much EVERY labor union endorses candidates and is engaged politically? Yet, on the other hand, only slightly more than 30% of chambers do so…even though, as stated above, more than 70% of businesspeople want their chamber “in the game” helping elect business-friendly candidates to office.

Sometimes the decision to get involved politically is the easy decision compared with making sure it’s done correctly.

Battle-Tested Ideas

The Boot Camp in Las Vegas will put it all on the table — the good, the bad and the ugly — and participants will walk away with best practices and battle-tested ideas for winning elections.

When you’re sitting in the stands watching the game, you must accept the results given to you by those on the field. Essentially, you only have minimal (if any) influence in the final score.

When you’re IN the game…you CAN make a difference. There’s no time like the present to make the leap and get into political action.

I hope to see you in Las Vegas on May 19.

Dave Kilby is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.