The other day I read an article on a financial website that discussed the increasing popularity of “passive” investment funds — specifically mutual funds that represent an entire major stock index such as the S&P 500. Because such funds include shares in all the stocks listed in an index, the fund’s value is dictated by the movement of the entire market. This requires minimal fund management. Oversight is “passive” so management fees are miniscule, hence the popularity.
I started today’s commentary with that financial anecdote because it got me thinking about how appealing it is to find an approach to any situation that only requires passive involvement. Then I thought about that adjective, “passive.” It’s relaxing. It sounds so peaceful and benign — yet in some situations it can be a destructive activity. Doing nothing is doing something. Just look at the 2010 and 2014 election years when too many Democrats stayed home from the polls and we ended up with years of congressional Republican obstruction.
These thoughts led to another aspect of that investment article that struck me as also worth mentioning. We all look for ways to protect and enhance whatever assets we accumulate in our lives. And yet, perhaps the most precious assets we Americans have is our Constitution and Bill of Rights — and the democracy and equality they protect. Many of us take this valuable legacy for granted. And yet, year to year it requires our attention and our involvement. We must never allow an erosion of our democracy that squanders an inheritance that took two and a half centuries to build.
At last Sunday’s NTD Annual Dinner, I was reassured that this battle to protect our Constitutional legacy is not being conceded to the far right. Our Dinner’s guest speakers, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and Congressman Sean Casten, came to congress in 2018 as a result of hard fought, grassroots campaigns involving hundreds of volunteers. Their words at the Dinner made it clear that they plan to fight even harder to hold on to their congressional seats against an onslaught of right wing money. (We can expect tough challenges to some of our state office holders too.)
So, “passive” is not a word we should even consider as we go into 2020. Democrats, across the country, certainly were not passive in 2018. That momentum has stayed with us. Let’s keep it going.
Scroll down this page and you’ll see a number of opportunities to get involved in meaningful activities. It’s not too early to begin. (The Republicans already have.) And, however you choose to become involved, you will make a difference. Politically, passive never wins.
Nels Howard, NTD Member Since 1973
P.S.The financial article I mentioned above did warn of some potential dangers that may be inherent in passive funds. You can google “passive investing bubble” if you’re interested. It’s worth a read.