We should not be applauding

Last week, I attended the keynote breakfast at the Midwest Conference on Philanthropy.

Eleanor Clift and our local political reporter, Steve Kraske, were the keynote speakers, and the topic was one that would lure me at any hour: the impact of the 2012 elections on the nonprofit sector.

I’ll get to the insights that I gleaned from the actual presentation in some future posts.

But the title of this one?

It refers to the introduction, which, honestly, is the part that has been stuck with me for the past week.

The nonprofit executive and committee member for the conference who had the job of introducing Kraske and Clift started his remarks with this statement: “Republican or Democrat, we all agree on one thing: we can’t wait for this election to be over!”

And about 2/3 of the room applauded.

And I was appalled.

I mean, I know that I’m in the minority, in terms of my fascination with politics. And, of course, I don’t watch television, which means that I am mostly protected from the attack ads on TV. I get the mailers, sure, and a few phone calls (how I LOVE political polls!), but I mostly opt-in to political debate and discussion, rather than having it land in my living room.

But, really. This was a room of nonprofit executives. Collectively, our ability to achieve our missions, and even our very existence, depends to a large extent on the tenor of social policies. And those policies are absolutely influenced by the outcome of elections, these elections.

So, what you’re saying, with your catcalls in response, is that you can’t wait to get back to your regular business, uninterrupted by something as apparently trivial as the future of our professions, our industry, and our nation.

We cannot afford to leave this election to a political vacuum. We have to be there. Not reluctantly, with our eyes half-averted.

Full on.

I’ll save my applause for election night. I’ll celebrate democracies that work, those who have poured their hearts into the business of winning the public’s, and, I hope, those courageous and visionary candidates with whom we’ll now get to work as elected officials.

I won’t be clapping just because it’s over.

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