A Look Back
Today is the wake for Governor Mario Cuomo. If you are a certain age, you can’t help but be a little nostalgic and wonder what’s gone wrong with national politics. Mario Cuomo and Ronald Reagan were the two most formative political personalities of the eighties. In many respects, the views they both articulated so well in their vastly different but incredibly effective speaking styles are still being debated today.
Political commentators correctly point out that Cuomo’s 1984 Keynote Convention Speech in which he chided the Republican Party for its alleged indifference to the poor and minorities was a speech that propelled him to the forefront of the Democratic Party. He did not completely relinquish this stage until he decided not to jump on a chartered jet waiting in Albany and enter the New Hampshire Presidential primary in 1992. What this analysis overlooks though is that a year after the Governor easily won a second term, Ronald Reagan easily won the state in his bid for re-election. It was the second time the conservative icon had won the state and he is the last Republican presidential candidate to do so. Whereas Governor Cuomo saw the nation as a tale of two cities, Ronald Reagan saw a nation where the individual was transcendent and his aggregate dynamism propelled the nation as a whole. The two politicians couldn’t hold more divergent views, yet were both embraced by the political system.
Viewed through the prism of today’s ultra-partisan and crass political environment, this shows how much politics has changed for the worse. New York, and indeed the nation as a whole, was willing to embrace both Governor Cuomo and Ronald Reagan even though they proudly articulated distinctly different governing ideologies. Today, governors become politically suspect for so much as shaking the hand of the President from the opposing party (just ask ex-Florida Governor Charlie Christ and current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie). Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill worked with President Reagan on a series of tax reforms in the early to mid-1980s. In contrast, Former House Majority Leader, Republican Eric Cantor is out of a job today in large part because he had the audacity to suggest that Republicans should consider passing immigration reform legislation.
What’s gone wrong? Somewhere along the way, politics has become a civic religion in which neither party has room for anyone who is not a true believer in all that their party represents. Whereas Governor Cuomo and President Reagan were allowed to articulate competing visions, but then participate in a political process in which the opposition was respected and dealt with; such actions today are the surest way for a politician to be marginalized by his own party, castigated on talk radio and primaried. The best re-election strategy is to stand for nothing and oppose everything.
If you think that everything that government does is intrinsically bad, then this current ideological holy war works just fine. But if you work for a credit union and are directly influenced by government policies and regulations, then the danger of this approach is self-evident. There is a lot that needs to be done that simply isn’t getting done. Politics works a heck of a lot better than people think. Our elected representatives are ultimately a direct reflection of the electorate. Take a look at the competing 1984 Convention speeches from Governor Cuomo and President Reagan. You will vehemently disagree with one of them, but you can take pride and long for a day where such competing views are nourished and assimilated into a political process that was actually designed to get things done occasionally.
NCUA Issues Supervisory Letter
This is my first post since my phenomenal holiday hiatus and I just wanted to give you a heads up on a supervisory letter issued by NCUA in late December. If your credit union has money servicing businesses such as check cashers or money transmitters within your field of membership (FOM), take a look at this guidance which explains the basic responsibilities that credit unions have when opening accounts for these businesses. Frankly, none of what the NCUA is suggesting should surprise you, and if it does, you should get to work on improving your BSA processes as soon as possible.