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5 Reasons for Associations to be Optimistic about the New Administration

5 Reasons for Associations to be Optimistic about the New Administration

By Jordan Wildermuth, MSW, Health Policy & Advocacy Manager

As the season of holiday gatherings winds down, I am sure that on more than one occasion a dinner was interrupted by unsolicited political banter. Around the association table, I would like to offer my gift of five reasons to be optimistic for the 115th Congress and the new presidential administration.

  1. Opportunity to make new friends.

    The make-up of the 115th Congress will be comprised of a number of new faces (7 in the Senate and 52 in the House). Additionally, there will be numerous presidential appointments for federal agencies that have a direct effect on policy decisions. For association staff and leaders, this is an opportunity to build lasting relationships and to become the go-to person on your particular issue. This is also an opportunity to engage your membership in advocacy activities. Make your first priority of the 115th Congress meeting with incoming legislators and agency staff to introduce the association. Don’t use this outreach to blast your policy priorities, but to begin a casual conversation about your association’s mission.

  2. Time to regroup and reprioritize.

    It’s easy to get tunnel vision when your association has set the policy agenda for the year. We relish the ability to be nimble in our responses to policy issues but often have to shift strategy from proactive to reactive when things suddenly “pop up.” Use the time between now and the first 100 days of the new administration to look at your policy agenda differently. Is there another way to get the desired results? Is your issue relevant? Do you need to expend resources on the “pop up” issues? Your policy agenda may not change, but the association will have a renewed sense of purpose for their advocacy efforts.

  3. Everyone is starting at the same point.

    congress sessionUnlike a second-term president or a president-elect that has served in Congress, we do not have a record to look back on to predict behavior on policy issues. This has created a sense of uncertainty among associations because the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown. The opportunity for associations is to begin writing your story before it is written for you.

  4. The checks and balances system still applies.

    No matter what party wins or loses in an election, there is still a process in place to ensure power is not concentrated in the hands of individuals or groups. If you don’t buy into that, let’s look at the ideological variances that exist even between the Republican majority party. There were many Republican members of Congress who did not support President-elect Trump during the election and there still remains the House Freedom Caucus who have just enough members to cause an issue to go awry. Democrat, Republican, or Independent, the fate of an issue still rests on the ability to compromise.

  5. You are still the expert.

    The one constant in politics is that nobody knows your issues quite like you. Policymakers rely on and respect those who provide them with thorough and factual information.

Here’s to 2017 and as always, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu!