A. Scott Anderson: Celebrate nation's birth by engaging in political process

Published: Friday, June 27 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, Aug. 8 2014 12:34 p.m. MDT

Next Friday we celebrate our nation’s birthday. It’s a good time to contemplate some of the basic principles upon which our nation was founded and to personally recommit to carry forth those principles.

In 1776, our Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia to draft a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. As Abraham Lincoln later noted in his Gettysburg Address, this “new nation (was) conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Our Founding Fathers won that war of independence but, a couple of centuries later, we forget the sacrifices of the signers of the Declaration. In applying their names to this magnificent document, they declared that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

History tells us that the Declaration signers became hunted men, branded as traitors to the king. Many were tortured; others imprisoned. Some were killed. Most lost their fortunes. But none recanted their declaration of these unalienable rights.

In dedicating the battlefield at Gettysburg, where the Union Army valiantly fought to save the Union, Lincoln went on to say, “it is for us the living … to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us … that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

To honor our Founding Fathers and those who perished at Gettysburg, and our military protectors who fought in other wars, we must do our part to ensure government of the people, by the people and for the people. The best way to accomplish this is to participate in our political process, register to vote, learn about candidates, attend neighborhood caucus meetings, volunteer in campaigns, vote in all elections, and communicate with elected officials.

At Zions Bank, we believe this is so important that we have created a formal program to encourage political involvement. We call it “Bank the Vote,” and it is entirely nonpartisan and voluntary. We don’t suggest who to support or how to vote, but we encourage political participation.

For the past 10 years, this program has provided resources and training to help employees understand current political issues, get to know elected officials and engage in the political process. Our employees have responded enthusiastically. This year, some 1,725 employees, or 70 percent of Zions Bank Utah workforce, participated in the Bank the Vote program. Eight hundred and twenty-two Zions employees and family members attended their precinct caucus meetings. Some 611 Zions employees and family members were elected to positions at their precinct caucus meetings, including state delegate, county delegate and precinct officers.

All across Utah, about 60,000 people attended the Republican caucus meetings this year, and 12,000 attended Democratic meetings; both were increases from past “off-year” caucuses. Our governance system works best when everyone is involved. Those who participate really give meaning to the old adage that “the world is run by those who show up.”

I’m proud of the involvement and impact Zions employees are making in grass-roots politics. I know firsthand how rewarding it can be, and I congratulate the many Utahns making a difference in our communities. Let’s pledge this Independence Day to accept Abraham Lincoln’s charge to continue the “unfinished work” of good governance.

A. Scott Anderson is CEO and president of Zions Bank.

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