Why Most Good People Don’t Run For Office – and other perplexing questions about politics

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

cooper_120613Terry Cooper, owner of Terry Cooper Political Research, addressed many of the hot-button issues dominating politics today.  Mr. Cooper does political research, principally opposition research for Republican candidates. He is a member of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia.  Mr. Cooper spoke at the Wednesday, June 13, 2012 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at the Charlottesville Senior Center. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Bob McGrath.

Standard Podcast [ 1:13:51 ]

Terry is a graduate of Episcopal High School, Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Research Editor of the Virginia Law Review, a member of the National Moot Court Team and elected to the Order of the Coif, the law-school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa. He practiced law with the Wall Street firm Sullivan & Cromwell and held executive positions with three Fortune 500 companies before founding his firm, Terry Cooper Political Research, in 1982.

Terry has taught opposition research at the Republican National Committee’s Campaign Management Colleges, at American University’s Campaign Management Institute, at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, at the University of Florida and at training programs sponsored by the state Republican parties of Virginia, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Washington State.

Terry’s clients have included then-Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich (R-GA); then- Congressmen Tom Davis (R-VA), Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Jim Greenwood (R-PA), Chip Pickering (R-MS) and Jim Nussle (R-IA); Congressmen Tom Latham (R-IA), Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and Doc Hastings (R-WA); then-Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell; and a number of members of the Virginia and Florida legislatures. Terry Cooper Political Research is located at 1111 Timber Trail Drive, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901. Terry can be reached via telephone at (434) 202-8065.

Program Summary

Terry Cooper does political research—principally opposition research–for Republican candidates. His presentation was entitled, “Why good people don’t run for office and other perplexing questions about politics today.” And Terry offered many, many reasons why good people are discouraged from seeking office: it would be like joining the worst fraternity on the grounds; in order to run, you may have to forego your income for all or part of the campaign; you may miss out on opportunities; you may have to take out a second mortgage or otherwise go deep into debt; campaigning can be a huge strain on your marriage and other personal relationships; you have to forego fun things like vacations and other family time; you have to eat lousy, unhealthy food and seldom have time to exercise; you have to spend time with fringe people and importuners; you work as hard as you ever have; you have to spend huge amounts of time asking strangers for large amounts of money; disappointments abound; some of your events are heartbreakingly poorly attended; friends side with your opponent; friends criticize your campaign’s tactics and positions; you’ll be pressured to abide by your party’s constituent groups’ issue agendas; opposition research will be done on you looking at ancient history, exaggerations, items taken out of context, items involving family members, and your finances. Whew!

Terry then gave a history of the Tea Party movement. It began as a reaction to policies of George W. Bush and the Republican Congress focusing on issues such as out-of-control spending, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”), and the bank bailout. But then members of the movement became outraged by President Obama’s actions which were perceived as more out-of-control spending (e.g., the stimulus); cronyism (e.g., favorable treatment of the UAW while shafting of bondholders in the auto bailout); unconstitutional (e.g., the individual mandate in the health-care law and ordering Catholic institutions to provide contraceptives); and failing to punish the bad actors who caused the financial meltdown and indeed rewarding some of them.

The last issue addressed by Terry was the Citizens United decision and superpacs. He stated that the Citizens United decision did indeed follow Supreme Court precedent, and that the fear of heavy corporate involvement in politics is wildly overblown. Further, the proposed constitutional amendment (HJ Res 90) providing that “the rights protected by the constitution…are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes…” would mean that corporations should have no free speech rights, no free press rights, no freedom of association rights, no right to petition for the redress of grievances, no right to due process of law. And if corporations shouldn’t have those rights, how about other artificial amalgams of people such as the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, and the Piedmont Environmental Council?