It’s easy — perhaps unavoidable —
to be cynical in our age of irony and full disclosure and 24/7 coverage of
scandals large, small and at times nonexistent. And yet … those of us of a
certain age can remember a time when Civics was taught in classrooms and
citizenship was practiced and praised as a community virtue. And, yes,
elected officials were looked up to as role models, not down on as sleazy or
oily or corrupt.
The news media that are now so
constantly available to us, extract a price from us. As the number of media
outlets has grown, exponentially it seems, the nature of the coverage has
become more sensational and the tone more shrill, with tabloid tactics now
too often the province of the mainstream, and not just the fringe, media.
In a simpler time, viewers would take in
the evening network news, and readers, the local daily paper. Now these
viewers and readers have been dispersed among a huge and growing array of
media outlets, both electronic and print. This of course has led to much
more feverish competition among these various media, each seeking out larger
scandals and more egregious wrongdoers. Such constant one-upmanship in the
down-and-dirty may boost ratings, but it oftentimes deflates our opinion and
distorts our view of institutions that we should scrutinize, certainly, but
that we should also respect, such as law enforcement, the courts, and
elected officials both local and national.
And it’s with this as a backdrop that
about 3,000 electric cooperative leaders from across the country journeyed
, the second week of May, to visit with Members of Congress on issues
important to your community, and your cooperative. Representing
’s 13 electric cooperatives were about 65 folks, mostly board members
elected by fellow cooperative member-consumers.
’s electric cooperative leaders visited with eight of the Commonwealth’s
11 Members of Congress and with both
Senators, John Warner and Jim Webb.
Specifically, we asked these elected
Devote adequate national resources
to research and develop the technologies needed to address climate
change, and to offer not-for-profit electric cooperatives equitable
incentives to deploy these technologies.
Maintain the traditional mission of
— and provide adequate funding levels for — the federal Rural
Utilities Service, which has for over 70 years provided loans to
electric cooperatives to allow us to build and maintain the
infrastructure needed to serve our member-consumers reliably and
Help rein in rail-transport costs.
Rehabilitate and maintain a strong
federal public-power program, including the two hydropower units in
Southside Virginia that provide an important part of the peak-load needs
of the Commonwealth’s electric cooperatives.
Provide appropriate incentives for
electric cooperatives to build power-generating
facilities that use renewable fuels, on a par with incentives provided
to other types of electric utilities.
(For more information on any of these
issues, just drop us a note here at Cooperative Living, using the contact
information in the adjoining box.)
In hallways and offices and meeting
rooms all around Capitol Hill, your cooperative’s leaders practiced the
old-fashioned art of face-to-face conversation and give-and-take with our
elected representatives in
. As a constituent, it would obviously be easier to send your representative
an e-mail or sign a petition or make a phone call; but for an elected
official, there’s surely nothing quite as earnest or honest or impressive
as having “the folks back home” sit down with you and share ideas and
Even in this hyperlinked age, it seems
that there are still few messages more compelling than those delivered by
the “feet on the street” of concerned citizens.