It’s hard to believe that August Recess is almost over, especially if you live in Washington. It’s not that I haven’t missed the impassioned debate over the country’s most pressing issues or watching the legislative process unfold; it’s just that those days have been pretty much over for a while. Today, the debate seems at odds with our national sentiment and the true legislative process is as unfamiliar to many members of Congress as it is to most of the American people.
Unfortunately, not much is expected in the way of change when Congress returns to town after Labor Day. In fact, we are pretty much where we were last year at this time and the year before that and the year before that … – on the edge of a fiscal cliff and facing a government shutdown, with important tax provisions expiring or expired and important trade initiatives at stake.
As citizens, are we partly to blame for this dysfunction on Capitol Hill by simply accepting it as the new normal? Have we arrived at a place where the viewpoints are so disparate, that compromise is an untenable option?
I do think it’s possible to turn the tide, but you have to believe you can have an impact. It starts by rejecting the status quo and choosing to be engaged. Most of the men and women whose policies are shaping our business environment lack an education in what manufacturing means to America and what it means to be an American manufacturer. They need to hear from you – the voters – that strength in manufacturing leads to strength in competitiveness, economic growth and job creation, and therefore must be a top national priority.
But the message and dialogue shouldn’t end there. As a constituent, you are entitled to answers and action on the issues affecting your business, your customers and your fellow workers. You are also a great resource to your elected leaders. It’s worth your time to build a relationship with your congressional staff members so that it is easy to exchange information and data on regulations, laws and proposals which affect you. You can also provide input on solutions to current manufacturing challenges and offer support for efforts that will have a positive impact.
Whether or not you helped hire your Congresspeople by voting for them, they still work for you and you can and should hold them accountable. Start by introducing yourself. Then let them have it with manufacturing facts, figures and most importantly of all, stories. It could be the beginning of mutually beneficial relationship.