Keeping clear of K Street

By Dan Bookham | Oct 14, 2010

midcoast — Chambers of Commerce are interesting beasts. Offering true microcosms of the communities they serve, Chambers encompass all manner of beliefs and opinions through the makeup of their memberships. Often times their members can hold wildly opposing viewpoints (and can quite heartily disagree over cheese and wine at a Business After Hours) but find common ground on bread-and-butter issues pertaining to business, the local economy, and the broader community.

Given that, I wanted to note without favor or prejudice either way that the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce is not a member of nor associated with the US Chamber of Commerce (or any national lobbying outfit, right, left, or center).

The lobbying and campaigning efforts of the US Chamber, Move On, or any organization identified with one party or position (regardless of where one lines up on the merits of the cases they make) have the potential to draw our Chamber membership into debates and positions that would only lead to a spiral of partisan bickering that would prove unhelpful at a time when we need to focus on the real and pressing needs of the local economy. Like the well-mannered dinner party guest, the Camden-Rockport-Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce chooses to avoid 'politics and religion' and focus instead on areas of immediate and deep local relevance to the membership. It is not our place to assume that we know the politics of our members, nor to claim to speak with one voice on behalf of a diverse group on matters of often personal importance.

This isn't an issue of deep principle; this is an issue of practicality. With over 600 members from across the political spectrum, by the time we had anything close to consensus on a political issue (and had dealt with hot tempers, hurt feelings, and principled resignations) the issue would probably have moved on. Far better then to concentrate on what we do best: being an effective advocate for members, the local economy, and the health and vibrancy of the communities we serve. There's plenty enough to argue about there without bringing in national politics!

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