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Realtor Party? Count me out

One Realtor’s editorial column with her formerly private, controversial thoughts on the Realtor Party.

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Realtor Party

Realtor Party

I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member

I’ve been reading and sitting on the sidelines for months, contemplating this “Realtor Party” movement and wondering why I am not at all a card carrying member of this. After some soul searching and research on the National Association of Realtors (NAR) press, below are my problem(s) with this political movement:

What is the Realtor Party? According to their website, “We are the REALTOR® Party: An energized movement of real estate professionals fighting to keep the dream of homeownership alive for this country. Now more than ever, it is critical for REALTORS® across America to come together and speak with one voice about the stability a sound and dynamic real estate market brings to our communities. From city hall to the state house to the U.S. Capitol, our elected officials are making decisions that have a huge impact on the bottom line of REALTORS® and their customers. Through the support of REALTORS® like you, the REALTOR® Party represents your interests.”

The site continues, “As a member of the REALTOR® Party, you…

  • Vote for REALTOR® Party Candidates.
  • Act on REALTOR® Party Issues.
  • Invest in RPAC.”

Why I do not support the Party

While I am for homeownership, I don’ t believe that every red-white-and-blue American needs to or deserves to buy a house. Oh my God! Blasphemy! A Realtor stating she is not for homeownership for each and every American! Yes, you have that right, some Americans don’t want to or don’t need to buy a house. Some shouldn’t. And many don’t have the economic means to do purchase and support the house once it is owned. So there. As a Realtor I make my living my helping people buy and sell houses. But that does not mean that it is a God-given right for every single American to buy one.

Homeownership is a priviledge and unless you have a bag of cash to pay for this purchase outright, you will be beholden to banks and underwriters and appraisers. You will have to prove your worthiness to purchase and repay this debt. And if you don’t have the financial stability to do this, then you may not be able to buy a house. Period.

Voting with the REALTOR Party

As for the points above “As a member of the REALTOR Party, you…” let me address these one at a time.

I will vote for who I want to, whether or not they are the REALTOR Party Candidate of choice. I vote with my head and I vote for who I think the best candidate is, no matter what their party affiliation or whether or not they are the “union endorsed candidate” or not. I do my research and never vote straight party line, Democrat, Republican or REALTOR.

This reminds me too much of when my father, a teacher, would come home from school and hand out little wallet cards telling my mother and grandmother who to vote for. The wallet cards were a cheat sheet filled with teacher’s union candidates. As far as I knew, my father, mother and grandmother walked into the polls and voted for whoever was listed on that wallet card. They didn’t think or question. The card was all knowing. The union was God. That is until the union forsook the teachers in my father’s district in the 1980s and sold them out to another school district. Today I wonder who my father now votes for, without the union to guide him. He probably votes straight party.

Not me. I do my research and vote for the candidates who I believe will do the best job, no matter what the REALTOR party says. So no, I won’t be marching into the polling station and voting for your REALTOR party candidates. I have a brain and an opinion and I’ll be using it.

Acting on REALTOR Party issues

ACT on REALTOR Party Issues…. Okay, that’s an interesting one. The REALTOR Party expects me to contact my local, state and national politicians to spout the party line and urge them to vote for issues that support homeownership and our business. That makes sense.

A few years ago I worked side by side with one of our state representatives to change the way our school districts were handling tax assessments and appeals. I worked with him for several years. Nothing changed. This politician beat his head against the wall and we were so close to fixing something that is very wrong with our state system. Twice, the state’s governor promised us if we got support passed in the senate and house he’d sign the bill into law. Twice, he lied. I got a very up close and personal view of how our government (on a state level at least) works. Those few years of me being at the forefront of this movement were enough.

I will never run for any government office — and I’ve been asked. I’ve been asked to run for school board and turned it down twice. I was asked to run for county positions and ran for the hills (including one very important political position running the county). And I was asked to help recently with a state initiative and I refused. I am burned out. I see how the inside works and it is ugly (uglier than seeing sausage being made).

God bless anyone who wants to attempt this thankless job. I will lend my verbal support but will no longer serve in the trenches. It’s a thankless job where those who are idealistic are beat into the ground and those who have ulterior motives step all over the rest of the soldiers.

Promising to contribute to RPAC as a Party member

And finally, if you are a true REALTOR Party member you will contribute to RPAC. Nope, never going to happen in my world.

I donate each year to our United Way (I am a Pacesetter and send a significant contribution in before the campaign officially starts) which goes to support 13 local agencies. I am a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow (Sapphire) and donate every year to the annual fund for our fundraisers. I send individual contribution checks to the politicians of MY choice.

Why don’t I contribute to RPAC? I choose where my money goes. I send charitable contributions to the charities I choose. I send political contributions to the politicians I choose. I don’t want to send money to some bit PAC or slush fund to allow someone else to decide who deserves my funds. I am sorry if that sounds anal or controlling, but a few years ago, I read a piece about a monument that a group I belonged to had donated millions to. I realized that the millions could have gone to feed the hungry or clothe the homeless in my area, not to this piece of bronze or steel in a park. At that point, I decided to give contributions to the parties and the groups I want to support, not some general fund that I don’t have a say in.

The Groucho Marx quote is appropriate here: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” I am my own person with my own mind. Nobody defines me in one word — not a party affiliation as Republican or Democrat or REALTOR.

I am a REALTOR. I am a wife, mother, daughter. I am a registered Democrat, yet ask me to define my political beliefs and I am a Blue Dog Democrat like my cousin Tim Holden. I am a photographer, reader, writer and blogger. I am an entrepreneur and multiple business owner. I am multi-faceted. I will vote for who I want, who I believe in. I will give money to who I want, who I want to support… No matter who likes it or doesn’t like it.

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Jay Thompson

    July 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Hear that? It’s a small, one-man standing ovation in Seattle… 

  2. ericaramus

    July 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I will take that as a compliment @Jay Thompson 

  3. drewfristoe

    July 12, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Erica, I agree with a lot if not all of what you have said.  It is your right not to want to be a member of “The Realtor Party”  BUT I do see that it has its place.  Having been involved on the State and Local level, working with The Party, I have seen my work be helpful.  From a national level with Flood Insurance, to a local issue we had with Septics.  

  4. Roland Estrada

    July 12, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I vote Conservative, period! If some the The Realtor Party agenda happens to fall into that slot, fine. 

  5. JayMyers

    July 12, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Love, Love, LOVE this. I agree with almost everything.
     
    This RPAC stuff is getting out-of-hand and downright ridiculous. I really pity the members who sit and complain about special interest groups and lobbyist and wanting smaller government but are either ignorant or blind to the fact they are continually fueling the fire with their contribution to one of the more powerful -lobbyist, or PAC groups in D.C. 
     
    With technology where it is now all members should be able to give their input where this money is used, if they are even interested in doing so is a whole other issue.

  6. JuliaOdom

    July 12, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I could have sworn I was the only one! What is good for Realtors is not necessarily good for the country and I’m not going to advocate for my interests over the greater good.

  7. Jeff Brown

    July 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    As a second generation Reelitor, I’ve watched every level of their so-called ‘leadership’ for over four decades. I’d compare it to the Keystone Kops, but don’t wanna insult the Kops. This new ‘party’ is merely another example. 
     
    I’ve never solved the dilemma: Are they that stoopid, or do they think we are? Or both? At least they’re somewhat entertaining at times.

  8. joemspake

    July 12, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I am with you 100% Erica.  I have built my business on doing what is best for consumers and not what is best for NAR.

  9. denise.hamlin

    July 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Nicely put Erica. I don’t agree with putting us all in one sack either. We’re as diverse in our thoughts, ideas and motivation as the rest of the nation. Being members of NAR doesn’t mean they get to tell us what to think. We can do that all on our own. @JuliaOdom Nice to see you chime in. Exactly what I would have expected. I’ve missed seeing you around lately.

  10. TAR_bca

    July 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    If you don’t think political advocacy is important to our industry, just ask an appraiser how it’s worked out for them …
     
    The appraisal-industry trade groups were unwilling or unable to have any effect on the implementation of HVCC … and it’s turned their business upside down and put a lot of them out of business.
     
    I don’t agree with straight-ticket voting either, but I know that the Realtor Party, Realtor associations, and RPAC. are all critical parts of the political advocacy game … a game the real estate industry MUST play. @laniar

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