In the summer of 1964, I got into a curious argument -- for a nine-year old that is -- with a dour neighbor who announced his intention to vote for Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican challenger for president who, that year ran against incumbent Lyndon Johnson.
I had seen a disturbing anti-Goldwater commercial on television the week before, which insinuated that should the hawkish senator from Arizona be elected, the odds favored him starting a nuclear war. And for good measure, the ad featured a framed ending with the ominous mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb.
At that young age I certainly didn't want to be reduced to floating particles. I had too many missed opportunities and what turned out to be an extended apprenticeship as an idiot in front of me.
When I proffered my opinion about the future of the country during a Goldwater administration, he informed me that as a young know-nothing - or slightly tempered words to that effect - I should stay out of adult politics and concentrate on things better suited to my age -- like trying to hit a Little League curveball.
As history shows, Johnson was re-elected in a landslide, while Goldwater's running mate for vice president, Rep. Bill Miller of New York, went on to become the answer to a trivia question, as he was first to star in the famous American Express campaign "Do You Know Me?"
Twenty years later, when I met Goldwater at a function in Phoenix, he strangely wanted to talk more about his hobby of restoring old cars than the '64 election, but I digress.
And while I never learned to hit the curveball, I always prided myself on the fact that I was reasonably well informed on politics, not only at the national level, but also about issues and officials at the local and state tiers.
In many professions -- and CPAs would certainly be part of that demographic -- and their respective organizations you continually hear the term "grassroots" when it comes to mobilizing efforts on select issues or initiatives.
But it also begs the question of how many CPAs -- or doctors and lawyers for that matter -- are really in tune with grassroots politics in their communities?
If you had a room of 100 CPAs from various parts of the country and asked each to name their respective congressmen, state senators assemblyman, alderman et al. How many could?
I would venture to guess the percentage would be alarmingly low. And that's a shame because it's at exactly those levels that many of the issues closest to us are decided.
During the hotly contested 2004 presidential race, it was encouraging to discover that a record number of eligible voters had exercised their constitutional privilege. It would be equally encouraging to see hefty numbers pull the levers with as much enthusiasm for local candidates and issues.
Because as any wizened pollster will tell you - all politics are local.
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