We tend to view elections, particularly presidential races where no incumbent is up for reelection, as potential game changers. The president, more than any other political officeholder, can influence so many aspects of our lives.
This year, judging by the headlines, many folks view our most recent presidential race as a once-in-a-lifetime, if not once-in-a-century, election. There’s plenty of interest in—and debate about—where our nation is headed next. While the president-elect’s supporters eagerly anticipate changes in federal policy, another segment of the electorate worries about what those changes might be.
On behalf of South Carolina’s member-owned electric cooperatives, let me assure you that no matter what happens in Washington, D.C., we will continue to operate on the same principles that have guided us for more than 75 years. We work for the benefit of our members, and we seek to empower and strengthen our local communities. By following this standard, we can play an influential role in the debate on energy policy, regardless of the political winds or who holds elective office.
A little presidential history might help put things into perspective. Pop quiz: Before Donald Trump, who was the last Republican president born in New York City?
The answer is Teddy Roosevelt, who was also the first president to introduce the idea that rural America needed significant attention and development in order to improve the lives of farmers, ranchers and business owners. While his famous fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, tends to get the credit, it was Teddy who first articulated the vision of electrification in rural America.
With that in mind, we look forward to seeing what new ideas President Trump might have for benefitting rural America and those we serve. And we’re ready to do our part in representing the interests of South Carolina cooperative members.
In South Carolina and across the nation, electric cooperatives should be held accountable for being honest brokers of information on energy policy. We must continue our history of providing responsible, reliable analysis that lawmakers and regulators can trust as the unvarnished truth. Our honest, unflinching approach to public policy is the only credible and enduring reason for cooperatives to have a place at the table when the details of energy policy are ironed out.
We believe all politics is local. Whenever leadership is dealing with an issue that will affect a local cooperative, it’s our duty to get that area’s input, no matter the time or effort. Informed decision making keeps us accountable to the people we serve.
By definition, cooperatives are a joining together of interests for a greater good. When advocating for a public policy that will benefit our members, we must enlist the aid of other interested parties. Since the policies we champion come from the ground up, our recommendations are thoroughly vetted, making it easier to attract allies who will work with us for the common good.
Finally, we have an obligation to paint a picture. Numbers, charts, graphs and PowerPoints have their place, but we bring real names and faces to the debate. It’s our job to tell the story of how a policy or regulation will affect you—our friends and neighbors—the people we serve on a daily basis.
Politics and public policy can be a chaotic business, but by following our principles, South Carolina’s electric cooperatives will always be in a position to represent the interests of our members.