PMPA Government Affairs Committee Chairman Urges Members to Vote

Please go to the polls next month and vote.


Please go to the polls next month and vote. That is the message from Roger Bassett, chairman of the PMPA Government Affairs Committee. Mr. Bassett has served on the committee for almost 10 years and was recently named chairman. He is also president and COO of Plymouth Steel Corporation in Warren, Mich.

Mr. Bassett was born and raised in England. He and his wife became United States citizens 2 years ago. “My wife and I are Americans by choice and we’re very proud of that,” he says. “We took the oath of citizenship just in time to vote in the 2008 presidential election.

“The citizenship ceremony was nice,” he continues. “But for me, the most moving experience in becoming an American citizen was the first time I went to the polling station and placed my vote. I know it sounds crazy, but I still get goose bumps when I think of voting for the first time as a U.S. citizen.”

Mr. and Mrs. Bassett lived and worked in England and Canada before moving to the United States. “Even though we regard those countries as being free, there is a special freedom in America that we did not feel elsewhere,” Mr. Bassett points out. “There is a lot more government control in both of those countries. I know they have free elections, but it’s not the same. There are more rules, regulations and red tape that you have to go through in England and Canada; rules that you don’t have here in America.”

Mr. Bassett feels that, in his role as PMPA Government Affairs Committee chairman, encouraging members to vote is more important than promoting a particular candidate. “Whichever way a person leans politically, I implore our members to read about, listen to and understand the issues and the candidates,” he says. “And then vote. Not only should our members vote, but I ask them to urge their employees, friends and relatives to vote as well.”

Mr. Bassett says small- to medium-sized businesses are the engines of job creation in this country. “PMPA companies have created job opportunities for hundreds of people. Even Vice President Joe Biden talks about the importance of small businesses in employing American workers.

“The political differences come into play in how small businesses are treated. That’s where things become somewhat polarized. People on the left tend to believe that small businesses need a combination of government handouts and rules. Those on the right tend to favor old-fashioned, American freedom. They want to be protected from external dangers, but other than that, they really want to be left alone.

“I believe most PMPA members aren’t looking for government bailouts, handouts or stimulus packages,” Mr. Bassett explains. “They just want the freedom to run their businesses in an honest and competitive way. I think they prefer that the government get out of their way.

“PMPA members are generally well informed,” Mr. Bassett continues. “They know what their candidate’s views are. They know by a candidate’s record whether he or she is pro-business. I encourage everyone to read the newspaper, attend town hall meetings or go to a few political rallies to see what the candidates are saying. They can also contact the PMPA for information on the candidates and issues that affect small business.”

Mr. Bassett believes the upcoming November elections will be considered a scorecard for the current administration. “If the Democrats maintain their current majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives, it will be regarded as an even stronger mandate for moving in the direction they are already moving,” he says. “If the Republicans gain control of one or both houses. I think that will soften that sense of a mandate.”

While he acknowledges that most PMPA members support Republican candidates, Mr. Bassett says there are also Democrats who can help small businesses. “The Franklin Partnership—PMPA’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C.—has given us a better understanding of not only the political process, but also a more balanced view of the political world,” he says. “They’ve shown us that there are pro-business opportunities on both sides of the political spectrum.

“Obviously, as small business owners, our collective interest is pro-business,” he continues. “The majority of PMPA members are privately held, family-owned companies and a lot of them are multigenerational. So we tend to support pro-business candidates.”

In addition to getting out to vote, Mr. Bassett would like to see more financial support for PMPA’s political action committee (PAC). “I urge all of our members to consider donating to the PMPA PAC. But the donations cannot be from a company; they have to be from an individual.”

The Government Affairs Committee is responsible for deciding where the PAC money goes. The committee seeks advice from members and then chooses the candidates to support. “We pick candidates that are pro-small business,” Mr. Bassett says. “We then encourage individual members to meet with their district’s candidates and physically hand them the checks from the PMPA PAC.

“We have more than 400 members,” he continues. “So we ought to be able to raise a fairly significant amount of money to support candidates that believe in the aims of PMPA member companies. It would be better if each of our members gave something rather than a handful of members giving larger amounts.”

In summary, Mr. Bassett says, “My first request is that every one of our PMPA members vote next month. And secondly, that each of our members gives something to the PMPA PAC. But the strongest message is please vote.” Roger Bassett can be reached at rbassett@plymouthsteel.com
or 586-755-5800.