Most readers will be familiar with the term “Political Capital": sentiment that a politician has a legitimate mandate to enact policy in the eyes of the voting public. (http://www.politicalcapital.info) It refers to the trust, goodwill, and influence a politician has with the public and other political figures, a type of invisible currency. However, can it be applied to elected offices in Freemasonry as it can be to other non-parliamentary institutions – could we then call it Masonic Capital? Can the sentiment produce a strong quantum of capital after a Political election, a time in politics often called “the honeymoon period”? Can Political Capital be lost, and how? How can Political Capital be accumulated?
Thankfully, most Freemasons will respect “the office” of their leaders even if they are unenthusiastic about the incumbent. If there is Worshipful Master or another leader with little or no Masonic Capital, members may withdraw from active participation at meetings and if we are fortunate they will maintain an association with their brethren. They will hope that in the next cycle of elections Freemasonry will get a leader it deserves, one with a high level of Political Capital – hope it will now all just go away! If we will be unlucky if disruptive disfranchised freemasons attend meetings and create disharmony. Leaders are not likely to accumulate much Political Capital on their election unless there has been a wide voting franchise (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Universal+franchise) and in Freemasonry a candidate should have demonstrated that he excels at furthering the three great principles of masonry – brotherly love, relief and truth. It is likely that he will benefit by demonstrating a capability to “grow” Freemasonry by his personal community high standing, increasing its numbers, retention, community “penetration”, infrastructure and wealth to support greater benevolence. It will be a disadvantage to be seen to have been supported by an amicus curiae group, no matter how powerful. No lodge, despite its exclusiveness and distinguished membership, can confer Political Capital. A process which is seen to have been designed to secure a particular type of outcome will not gain Political Capital. It will be a disadvantage to be seen in the past to have been responsible for or closely associated with strategic policy decisions that have not enjoyed wide spread support.
It will be difficult to earn Masonic Capital unless things are done that the greater majority of Freemasons believe to be important – to further our principles and growth. A campaign trying to sell what many will see to be unimportant achievements or just saying we are good people will not wash in the pub test. We need to have mandated performance objectives at the highest levels as are found in a Public Company.
Without a high quantum of Political Capital and the potential to accumulate more midterm, a leader will be unlikely to be able to harness the energies of Freemasonry, motivate its members, arrest the decline in numbers and its community standing, and substantially further its objectives both in individual Lodges and our other Masonic Organisations.
May all of Lodge Devotions current and future leaders enjoy strong and deserved Masonic Capital and employ it wisely.
Yours fraternally ,