The importance of grassroots advocacy

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Kudos to the National Marine Manufacturers Association for the creation of Boating United, a new grassroots advocacy platform that has real potential for increasing the influence of recreational boating in Washington.

The NMMA’s initiative is a reminder that grassroots advocacy is, by far, the most powerful route to influencing public-policy decisions. Boating United has been initially designed to advocate on the national level. Eventually, it might also be further developed to help on state levels.

Right now, going to the website and registering will enable you to easily send messages to your congressional representatives or regulatory agencies. Two current issues, for example, include the need to revise or repeal the unworkable Renewable Fuel Standard (the ethanol mandate); or the critical saving of boater’s access to Biscayne National Park under proposals by the National Park Service.

To check it out, I registered my information, pressed the “Take Action” button and sent off messages on both issues. It was easy. Moreover, within a few minutes I received back email confirmations of receipt from my two senators here in Florida: Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson.

“Our goal is to be as inclusive as possible,” NMMA grassroots and government relations manager Michael Lewan said. “We know that any issues adversely impacting one segment of the industry will undoubtedly impact the industry as a whole. We intend Boating United to supercharge the industry’s advocacy by many stakeholder groups on many future legislative and regulatory issues.”

So where do we go from here? With the Boating United site now launched, the immediate objective should be to grow participants. While Lewan hasn’t set any target number, its clear building participation as fast and large as possible is now his top priority. After all, we already have industry issues and it’s a certainty we’ll be facing more.

To that end, manufacturers and industry suppliers should immediately consider urging all their employees to become registered members of Boating United.

State and local marine trade associations should become players, too. They should be encouraging their dealer and marina members to join Boating United now. The advantage of being registered is that they’ll directly receive updates on issues and, particularly important, will be able to easily engage and respond.

Boating United is, therefore, an online community of marine industry stakeholders to directly participate in advocacy efforts. It’s a digital platform that can make our voices louder and we all should be members.

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