I saw on the news the other day that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) won his primary race for the U.S. Senate. I smiled as it brought back a memory I have of McCain from around 15 years ago. That was when McCain was still a maverick. I can’t believe he really said in his recent campaign that he was not a maverick; this after basically wearing the term as a badge of honor for most of his career. Politics makes people do some crazy things, and I guess McCain is not immune.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still admire John McCain. In fact, I count among some of the greatest honors I have had in my life the opportunity to meet and shake the hand of Senator McCain, as well as the former Senator John Glenn (D-OH). Both are former fighter pilots (Navy and Marines), one a POW for over six years, one an astronaut and the first American to circle the Earth. When you stood in the presence of these two men, you immediately knew you were observing a totally different breed of cat. They just exuded an aura of confidence. I guess after you sit on the top of a rocket or endure a Vietnamese prison cell for years, there isn’t anything else in life that is going to scare you.
But back to my McCain memory. It relates to a speech he gave at an AICPA program in D.C. around 15 years ago. This was a “Grassroots” conference AICPA coordinated where CPAs from all over the country came to D.C. to learn about political involvement and visit members of Congress. McCain was one of the keynote speakers at the program.
He started his talk by thanking all of the folks in the audience for being there and for coming to Washington, D.C. to meet with their elected officials. He observed that he knew all the attendees had “something better to do” than being there. That they each had busy lives and that they all had a job or career, a family, a community, or other interests to which they could be devoting their time. They all had “something better to do.”
But then he went on to note that if people like them – the folks with “something better to do” – did not get involved and participate in the political process, then what would be left were the people with “nothing better to do.” And that was not a good alternative, for our country or for them.
I am fond of the saying that “the world is run by those who show up.” If we are not willing to get involved in – politics, our professional organizations, our schools, our religious organizations, etc. – then we really are ceding our right to complain about what happens in any of those spheres. They will be run by those who do show up. That is how it works. We are lucky that we have a lot of talented CPAs who show up all the time for TSCPA, even though they have something better to do.