RPAC...Then and Now

The year was 1969. The Beatles had their last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London.

The Vietnam War was raging. Richard Nixon was president.

Woodstock attracted more than 400,000 rock-n-roll fans to upstate New York.

In France, the first Concorde test flight was conducted. (The American-made Boeing 747 jumbo jet also made its debut in 1969.)

The first man landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The Pontiac Firebird was introduced. (In 1969, I wasn’t old enough to drive. However, I bought a used Firebird, canary yellow, in 1978. I sure got a lot of speeding tickets in that thing!)

In 1969, the average income was $8,550 a year. The average cost of a new car was $3,270, and gas cost 35 cents a gallon. The average cost of a home was $15,550.

And you know what else happened in 1969? RPAC, the REALTORS® Political Action Committee, was born. (Actually, its first name was REPEC, Real Estate Political Action Committee. But it was changed to RPAC, REALTORS® Political Action Committee, by 1974, the year after NAR hired its first lobbyist.)

Yep. RPAC is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Why is RPAC so relevant today?

RPAC supports political candidates who share our views, or at least are open to hearing our views, on real estate issues.

Let’s be honest. Having elected officials as our friends leads to public policies that help preserve our ability to generate income as real estate professionals. Now, that’s the truth.

RPAC also helps keep homeownership affordable, which benefits consumers and REALTORS® alike.

RPAC works to support elected officials at local, state, and federal levels.
And having friends in government at all levels helps us create good public policies.

A local example is limiting home rule in municipalities throughout the Mainstreet territory. (Home rule leads to broad taxing powers without voter consent.)

A statehouse example is preventing the expansion of rent control in the Illinois Legislature. (Rent control leads to lower property values and poorer living conditions.)

A federal example is extension of the national flood insurance program in Congress. (The absence of a national flood insurance program leaves tens of thousands of properties uninsurable, which makes them unsellable.)
RPAC gives REALTORS® a voice with lawmakers on issues like these. And these issues affect your pocketbook.

If RPAC is such a good thing, why don’t more REALTORS® make a voluntary investment in it? After all, RPAC is like insurance for your pocketbook.

Why don’t more REALTORS® act in their own self-interest and invest in RPAC? It’s only $35 a year. I mean, come on, that’s lunch for two people.

It’s a very good question. And I admit, I don’t know the answer for certain. But do I have some theories …

Theory No. 1: Some REALTORS® just don’t like politics, pure and simple. I get it. We just want to make a living, take care of our families, and stay out of trouble.

Theory No. 2: Some REALTORS® are fed up with the state of politics today. We don’t want to reward bad behavior – think of all the partisan antics going on in Congress right now.

Theory No. 3: Some REALTORS® have strong opinions about which candidates, and which issues, are really important to them. Gun rights. Abortion. Health care. RPAC doesn’t address these issues. Well, maybe health care. NAR has lobbied for association health plans, but that’s another story.

Let’s look at my three theories…which really are REALTOR® objections to participating in RPAC.

  • No. 1: Some REALTORS® just don’t like politics. You may not like politics, but it’s part of life. And if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu. RPAC gives those of us in organized real estate a seat at the table. And a voice.
  • No. 2: Some REALTORS® are fed up with the state of politics today. I probably should amend this to say, who isn’t fed up with the state of politics today? All the more reason to participate in RPAC, which gives focus to the issues that do matter in real estate and the economy. RPAC is bipartisan. We’re not Democrat or Republican. We’re the REALTOR® Party.
  • Which brings me to No. 3: Some REALTORS® have strong opinions regarding which candidates and which issues are really important to them. And herein lies a big problem, in my opinion. You’ve might’ve heard me say this before. Too many REALTORS® don’t see themselves as REALTORS® first. They see themselves as Republican soccer moms. Or devoted Rotarians. Or diehard Cubs or White Sox fans. With their identity as a REALTOR® being somewhere down the list.

As REALTORS®, we’d be better off thinking of ourselves as REALTORS® first and foremost.

And recognize that RPAC is an essential part of being a successful REALTOR®… then, now and in the future.

1969 gave us a lot of good things … the Pontiac Firebird, the first man on the moon. Great rock-and-roll music, from the Beatles to Janis Joplin.

And yes … RPAC, the REALTORS® Political Action Committee.

This year marks RPAC’s 50th anniversary.

Let’s make the most of it.

I ask you to join me in encouraging your fellow Mainstreet REALTORS® to invest early and often in RPAC. Let’s make it a special point of emphasis throughout 2019, RPAC’s 50th anniversary year.

Because investing in your future livelihood is in your best interest…and the best interests of your clients, the homeowners and property owners of Chicagoland.

RPAC. It’s the REALTORS® Political Action Committee.

Bipartisan. Focused. Effective.

And if you’re involved in real estate, it’s a wise investment.

RPAC was relevant in 1969 and it’s even more relevant in 2019.

Thank you for investing in your future livelihood by investing in RPAC.