The role that government relations teams play during presidential elections.
I’ve always been fascinated by political news, and elections in particular. I was a budding news nerd as a kid (I blame my father, who was a political reporter in Washington in the 1970s) and still remember my diary entry reporting to no one in particular that President Nixon had resigned. The more surprising news may have been that, despite my odd hobbies, I actually had friends.
I laugh about it now, but I think I was onto something in my own adolescent way. Although we bemoan the tone of our campaigns and the political divisions among us—and we may show questionable judgment when we choose leaders who subsequently resign rather than face impeachment—elections are, at their core, hopeful moments. They let us envision a different future where the things we care about reach their fulfillment and make America better.
Of course, that means vastly different things to different people, and to see what those differences look like, just keep your eye on associations for the next year or so. Government relations is a core association function, but presidential campaigns let GR teams up the ante: Candidates are eager to engage on issues, and media coverage heightens public awareness and offers organizations more opportunities to get their message out. In this issue, Mark Athitakis reports on how associations are leveraging the 2016 campaign season and adjusting their tactics to press the issues that matter to their members.
That opportunity is what associations have in common; their agendas will clash spectacularly, as the voters’ will. Will we ever find a way to align our different viewpoints into a vision of the future we can substantially agree on? It’s the political challenge of our time, and a hope I’m clinging to.