Like it or not, we must be politically engaged!

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I read and consider every comment readers make to this blog. I’m grateful for your involvement. And, when readers disagree with me and offer a different point of view, I’m all for it because it makes this blog more valuable.Sometimes, however, the comments clearly indicate that I either didn’t communicate a subject well or wasn’t convincing. Specifically, I refer to recent comments that this blog is political. Some examples:

“Most of Norm’s blogs are political,” wrote Steve S. “Last I checked, a dealer’s bottom line has very little to do with politics,” he added. Or, Tired politics commented: “This boat dealer blog has turned into a constant rant for regarding the wasted ABCDEFG boat organizations/associations. Boat dealers should be focused on retailing & servicing boats, not politics."

I absolutely agree . . . boat dealers should be focused on retailing and servicing boats. That is job one! I’ve never intended to indicate otherwise. Moreover, Steve S and Tired Politics are right in saying I deal with political subjects. I do when it’s important and can impact dealers. But when Steve S says “a dealer’s bottom line has very little to do with politics,” I must say: wrong -- it has everything to do with politics!

If there was ever a time when dealers could ignore political concerns it’s in the past. Today, public policies on the federal, state and local levels impact a dealer’s bottom line as never before. Issues raging from paying increased taxes to paying for expensive environmental requirements to paying for mandated employee benefits to witnessing governmental directives negatively impacting customers to . . . well, you get the idea. Like it or not, political considerations are now in virtually everything we do!

It’s also a fact that no dealer can, by himself, go to Washington or even his state capitol and get lawmakers to pass favorable legislation or kill an unfavorable bill. No dealer, by himself, stands a chance of seriously influencing policies and rules promulgated by the endless list of regulatory agencies effecting boating. Success in these arenas only becomes possible when the boating industry comes together in action.

Sadly, there’s also a frequent assumption that our national associations like the NMMA or MRAA, or our state marine trades associations, will “just handle these matters.” It’s true both national associations have veteran lobbyists doing a first-rate job in Washington, and most state associations do exceptionally well advocating in their respective state capitols. But, none can get the job done alone. It takes membership participation. Even supporting a PAC, while very important, is not enough. There must be active member involvement.

Dealers must be engaged in the formation of public policy. It’s simply good business. All employees should be so encouraged, too. Political action does not diminish the selling and service priority. Anyone who can’t make time for both could be helped by some time-management coaching.

When an issue requiring “grass roots” (that’s dealers, employees and, yes, sometimes even customers) influence is at stake, we must be willing to become engaged. Public policies can make or break us. That’s why, when necessary, I use this blog to inform dealers of important political issues we should act on.


The impact of a burning river

When the Cuyahoga caught fire in 1969, it set off a chain of events that led to federal action for clean water. It was a huge win for the environment and those who use the water for recreation, but our work isn’t finished.